Angus Davies discovers the delights of the small brand, Brellum and discusses its Duobox family of models.
I have always had a predilection for chronographs. When Sébastien Muller of Brellum invited me to meet him and survey his broad collection of chronographs, I found his offer hard to refuse.
Brellum is based in the Jura, the heart of Swiss watchmaking. Muller is a forth generation watchmaker, perpetuating his family’s prowess at working on timepieces. Having worked in various areas of the watch industry, Muller has become very proficient at sourcing watch components at very competitive prices.
The name Brellum is partly the spelling of the family name, in reverse, while the first letter references Bonfol, Muller’s place of birth. Today, Brellum watches are made in the medieval city of Porrentruy.
The company is a family affair, with Muller’s wife working for Brellum as Technical Designer. Part of the secret of Brellum’s success is that the watches are sold directly to the end-user, sidestepping retailer margins, a fact which is reflected in the comparatively low asking price of the company’s timepieces.
The Duobox models are made in limited runs of 299 units per annum. Each timepiece features an eye-catching glass-box sapphire crystal, enticing light to bathe the dial epidermis and affording an agreeable three dimensional appearance to the face of the watch.
There are no faux proclamations of ‘manufacture movements’, Muller is open about using ETA Valjoux 7750 movements. Indeed, as a fan of the ETA Valjoux 7750, I appreciate the robustness and reliability it provides. In this instance, the movement has been beautifully embellished with blued screws, perlage and an open-worked oscillating mass featuring Geneva stripes. Each watch features an exhibition caseback bestowing views of the movement within.
A COSC certification accompanies each timepiece, which is impressive considering the modest asking price of the company’s watches.
The dial features luminescent hands and applied indexes, augmenting the three dimensionality of the dialscape. Each model features a pulsometer scale while the Duobox Classic Power Reserve L.E.1 also includes a power-reserve indicator.
The base model is presented solely in steel, a costlier version is presented with an 18-carat gold bezel and solid gold indexes. This upgrade attracts a premium of just CHF 455.
Muller is keen to provide would-be wearers much choice and as such offers either leather straps or Milanese style bracelets. Prices start at a very agreeable CHF 2,220, including worldwide shipping.
While Brellum is not the last word in haute horlogerie, it does offer impressive products at very affordable prices.
The use of the ETA Valjoux 7750 confers peace of mind. This robust movement has been extensively used within the watch industry and is well-known for its ease of servicing. The specification of the movement within Brellum’s watches includes some exquisite finishing.
There are many specification details which make Brellum timepieces very impressive for the money. The glass-box sapphire crystal affords a beautiful view of the dial. The timepiece includes applied indexes, rather than the stickers often found on lesser watches. Each watch is tested by COSC, a feat only 6% of Swiss watches attain each year and an expense seldom incurred on watches at this price point.
Lastly, there is a personal angle to Brellum. This is the product of one man’s dream to make quality watches at fair prices and, in so doing, perpetuate his family’s association with horology. Moving forward, I anticipate hearing much more of the 42 year-old Muller and his company, Brellum.
Model: Brellum Duobox Collection
Case: Stainless steel; diameter 41mm; height 16.20mm; water resistant to 5 bar (50 metres); sapphire crystal to front and solid caseback.
Functions: Hours; minutes; small seconds; date; chronograph; pulsometer.
Movement: Calibre BR-750-1; self-winding movement; frequency 28,800 VpH (4Hz); 25 jewels; power reserve 46 hours
Angus is a self-confessed watch addict and is frequently asked to contribute to various printed magazines and websites around the globe. He also writes for individual watch companies on matters of horology and has appeared on television and radio as an industry expert.