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An Interview with Giles English, Co-Founder of Bremont Watches

Co-Founder of luxury British Watchmaker Bremont, Giles English speaks to People and High Society about bringing life back to British watchmaking, flying vintage planes and testing watches fit for an adventurer’s next trip to Mount Everest.

Please tell us more about founding Bremont watches?

It all came about through my father who was an amazing engineer, a PHD engineer from Cambridge. Although he had the brain for it he was also very practical with his hands; he loved building things. He had a workshop where he built planes, and he built a boat which we went to live on as kids. One of his passions was also watches and clocks. So we grew up around watches and clocks and always loved them.

I went off to go study engineering and was also involved in the family business of restoring old aircrafts. Life changed in 1995 when my father was in a plane crash with my brother. My father died and my brother, Nick, broke 30 bones and was in intensive care for many months. When he recovered Nick and I thought life is very short and lets do something we both love doing. So that’s exactly what we did. We decided to make watches. It was five years until we launched our first watch. It’s very much created out of passion, a lot of sweat and tears.

Hunger and passion are often considered the most important elements to success. Do you agree? What motivates and drives you?

Definitely passion is the driver. What is lovely about manufacturing something like watches is that you are creating something beautiful. So you become obsessed; you want to make it better and better. You want to improve so that’s driving you like an artist; you want to perfect it. If you are three years into it and you haven’t made a watch yet you aren’t going to give up there. You’ve got to turn to your wife and explain why it’s been a disaster so I think there is pride as well pushing you forward.

Working with a brother there is definitely a complete sense of trust; you are in it altogether and you want the same thing for each other. We’ve always been very close and after the plane crash we are even closer and more reliant on each other. 

You and your brother are known for being quite adventurous, flying vintage planes for example. What is the most daring or dangerous thing you have ever done? Also, what would you like to do?

Being that I broke my back in August 2013 in a plane crash I think that probably sums it up. Flying old planes doesn’t necessarily have to be dangerous; it’s calculated risk. I think the older you get the less risks you want to take and you have family you don’t want to let down.

However, I think the adrenaline is a real buzz; getting into an old aircraft, flying it long distances over mountains and over the sea is incredibly exciting and very liberating. There is definitely a sense of risk involved with it, but when you come close with death you see life in rose coloured spectacles again; you appreciate things more. Unless you push yourself in life you don’t realise how wonderful life is really.

How has watchmaking evolved within the UK?

Britain has this amazing history. Two world wars wiped out our industry. We had to build guns, planes and tanks. The Swiss, the neutral country, were building watches so their industry flourished and ours died away. There has always been an on-going industry in clocks and specialist restorations, which kept going. However, for new build of watches on any scale there has been no one until we came along.

We saw that there was a wonderful history of British watchmaking. Probably 60% of the modern movement was designed by British watchmakers and the world sets its time by Greenwich meantime, yet the history of British watchmaking was largely forgotten. So we felt if we could create a beautiful watch we could re-launch this history of British watchmaking and differentiate ourselves.

Today, we have a big apprenticeship scheme for training watchmakers. The industry is growing, but it takes time and a lot of investment.

Bremont watches have gone through an incredible amount of testing. Can you please tell us a bit more about this?

We realised before we launched that we needed to go through a proper testing regime and that’s partly where our relationships with adventurers and explorers came from; if you have a man climbing Mount Everest or walking through the South Pole its really testing your watch. We also worked with a company that creates ejection seats for about 75% of the world’s military flying aircrafts. We had a 2.5 year testing phase where our watches were ejected, crash tested, etc. We developed new mechanisms in the watch to protect it. As a result of that we received a lot of requests from the military. About 20% of our business is delivering to military squadrons around the world, whether it’s air force of military. It is a very proud part of our business.

We also just announced a long term partnership with Boeing. We are creating some watches for them and working with their advanced materials testing research centre, so we can use new materials that have never been used in watches before.

Saphira Turrell, Pearl Publicity, London

Saphira Turrell

Premier-Class Polo in the Snow

St Moritz Snow Polo World Cup: 30 January-2 February 2014 The next Cup marks the 30th anniversary of the renowned polo event. Last year around 12,000 spectators enjoyed a spectacular top-class polo tournament in beautiful sunshine albeit freezing cold temperatures. For the 2013 Cup Cartier sealed its victory with a result of 5:4 against BMW thanks to Jonathan Munro Ford (patron), Max Charlton, Nacho Gonzalez and Chris Hyde. “The key to winning a match is to anticipate not only your opponent’s next move but the one after that, wherever possible; and on the snow, a little bit of luck sometimes comes in handy,” commented the delighted patron Jonathan Munro Ford on his victory. Ensure you secure your tickets for this coming year’s not to be missed event. St Moritz White Turf: 9, 16 and 23 February 2014 Your Polo Calendar is not complete without St Moritz White Turf. Undeniably glamorous and unforgettably beautiful, the event is set among the stunningly beautiful snow-capped mountains of St Moritz. The combination of horse-racing, gourmet catering, live music and art exhibitions leaves little to be desired. The attendee numbers tend to be in the ballpark of 35,000. Join them for rounds of champagne in the snow this winter. Images:,

Front Row at Fashion Week: Frills and Thrills for S/S 2014

New York, New York The Fashion Pack’s first stop for S/S ’14: NYC. Top trends for the season: sheer fabrics provided a visual feast for the eyes, whilst monochrome is a must-wear. Tropical patterns, 90s flashback and vibrant orange lips brought light-hearted fun to the runway. Legendary make-up guru Gucci Westman perfected the season's new lip hue at the rag & bone show, proving that orange really is the new black. Parties to be seen: The Couture Council Artistry of Fashion Awards Luncheon and the tenth annual Style Awards. Michael Kors was honoured for his services to the industry at the Fashion Awards. Guests included Hilary Swank, Lily Aldridge and Harley Viera-Newton. Later Nicole Richie presented at the Style Awards whilst Patrick Demarchelier, Kate Upton and Zac Posen left as happy winners. London Bound Dries Van Noten strutted pleats and ruffles down the runway, creating a dramatic and fluid collection, whilst, Dolce and Gabbana felt very golden with rich tones. Colours for London Fashion Week were bright and details were gorgeous. There was a focus on wearability and, like in New York, on customers' seasonal needs. "Usually there is a huge diversity in London, from the romantic to the very modern, but this season it feels like there has been a convergence and they've really sung with one voice […] Very modern, very slick, very conceptual, but without being tricksy." Vogue UK’s Fashion Director, Lucinda Chambers Ciao Milan! SS14 Milan got fresh. Themes, colours and presentation felt young and flamboyant. Milan’s shows were a riot of punchy, rainbow drenched colour. As seen in New York and London, Milan paid homage to the crop top. Plus, sport luxe, retro, arty prints and heavy embellishments were strong trends. Party to be remembered: Condé Nast’s night of music, One Night One Voice, to celebrate Italian culture. J'aime Paris Paris: final stop for the shows. Off the shoulder, power to the 80s and oversized silhouettes were hot trends. We also saw crop tops, colours and prints emerge on the runway. With the biggest news of the season breaking on the last day of Paris Fashion Week - that of Marc Jacobs leaving Louis Vuitton after 16 years- that wraps up SS’14! Images:,, Topshop

The Waldorf Astoria, New York

In Midtown Manhattan, a retreat from the bustling streets of New York City, we find the Waldorf Astoria. It’s the name that is on everyone’s lips when asked about the best of the best in New York City.  

An official New York City landmark since 1993, this Art Deco hotel leaves little to be desired: mosaics, murals and elaborate plaster ornamentation add to the opulence of this striking hotel. It’s a regular for Presidents visiting the city so certainly won’t disappoint. We especially love the individually decorated rooms and suites so it never feels dull coming more than just once. In our experience we have found the service to be impeccable; with 24-hour room service there is little to complain about. Try the Waldorf Salad, it’s a classic. If you would like a bit of relaxation the Guerlain Spa does the trick. 

An Interview with Paolo Macchiaroli, Founder and CEO of My Private Villas

Paolo Macchiaroli, luxury holiday rental entrepreneur, speaks to People and High Society about why the discerning luxury client is now swopping a 5 star hotel for a private luxury holiday villa experience. He talks to us about how the industry has changed and the perks of joining the club to rent your own villa.


Could you please tell us more about founding My Private Villas? What inspired and motivated you?

I’ve been in the Luxury villa rental market for about 10 years. Before My Private Villas, I was the CEO and President of a B2B
company which promoted luxury villas to a network of international rental agencies. 

The villa market has changed very much in recent years, due to the incredible number of villa rental agencies that have appeared on the internet. Some are very professional but unfortunately others are not. Websites are simply cutting and pasting information from another website without having any contact or contract with the owners. They simply add mark-ups and offer the villa for a higher price than the standard rate. This has created a huge confusion in the market. Now the villa rental market is a jungle. It’s not like yacht or chalet rentals where official rates are always used. One villa can be available online for 3, 4 or 5 different rates through different sites. It is not fair for clients as they are overpaying and it is not fair for the owners as they can’t control how much the client is spending. The behaviour of the client has changed as well. Before the client only contacted one villa rental agency, which they trusted. Now they contact 5 to 10 villa agencies, so they do what I call ‘shopping around’. For these reasons almost three years ago I decided on a change as I no longer agreed with the business model. I sold my shares and moved to London. 

When I moved the villa owners I previously worked with tried to convince me to continue to promote their villas. I had an incredible portfolio of contacts and I felt I should either create something new and unique or nothing at all. Then I had a very simple idea to create a private club of owners. 

Do you think websites such as My Private Villas and Homeaway are changing the hospitality landscape?

High net worth individuals are increasingly renting villas rather than visiting a hotel considering these villas have 5 star luxury services, incredible chefs, some villas even have Michelin star chefs. So they have the same or better services than a 5 star hotel simply because they are the only guest. In proportion they spend less, because if you visit a 5 star hotel with a group of 10 people and book 5 penthouses you will probably spend more than booking a villa. This kind of experience is completely different because you are at your private villa, your private home. 

There are also new markets, for example South America or India that did not even know of the possibility of renting villas, they are now discovering this.

My Private Villas offers a luxury experience; what does it offer that makes it most different from its competitors?

From the client side we are able to offer clients the best prices through the owners. Also, we are almost ready to launch an incredible service that none of the other villa rental agencies offer, which is a 24/7 concierge service for all of our villas (with the exception of one in Thailand). This is incredible value as we offer it for free. 

From the owner’s side we offer villa owners promotional and marketing activities, as well as transparency. Usually a rental agency advertises its own company but not the individual villas. We run dedicated promotional and marketing activities for our villas through social media and newsletters. For a villa in Tuscany we might create a promotional activity around food and wine. We have a database of clients already divided in different sectors. We would write personalised emails to all our clients that are lovers of food and wine; it’s like knocking on the right door. 

There is quite a substantial return on investment by renting out one's villa when not in use. Could you please tell us a bit more about the advantages?

Many villas cost a fortune to maintain: fixed staff that take care of the property, general maintenance, etc. Renting the villa when not in use can cover these costs. 

Others rent out villas as a business. Some owners have created companies that own several villas like a small hotel chain. They do it for investment purposes.

My Private Villas has properties in some of the most beautiful places in the world, including the Cote d'Azur, Sardinia and the French Alps. How many properties does the website now feature?

When I launched the company two years ago we started with 60 villas; now we have more than 300 villas. The most important part of my job was to discover new villas. To be honest I don’t have to do this anymore, simply because there is a long queue of villa owners that are waiting to be part of our portfolio because they want to be part of the club. They like that we dedicate energy and time to promote them individually. We share the promotional plan with them every year and they don’t feel just like a number in a portfolio. They feel that someone is really taking care of them. 

We visit all the properties. Word of mouth is the most incredible advertising we can have. We therefore need to control all the villas every year: the sheets, towels, glasses, etc. I have visited thousands of villas in my life and now have an eye for those that will be successful and those that won’t. 

What is your vision for the business this year and for the future?

I always prepare a plan for 3-5 years to create a base for a successful business. I strongly believe especially now with the crisis the solution is to keep the price low and offer extra and dedicated services. 

We are always looking for new properties. We don’t want a portfolio of 1000 villas because we need to control the quality of each villa individually. Instead we will increase the quality of the villas. 

It is also the market that decides how we will expand. Last year if you asked me ‘Paolo, what do you think about enlarging the destination portfolio to the Caribbean?’ I would have probably told you ‘No way- because we can’t control the quality in the Caribbean.’ Then what happened was that we began receiving enquiries from our return clients saying that ‘We had a fantastic experience in your villa in Europe, do you have a villa in St Barts?’. For the first client you think ‘No’, the second ‘No’, the third ‘No’… then you start to think that we should develop a portfolio with the same quality with the most requested destinations outside of Europe. It’s the market that decides, not us. 

For more information about renting a villa or renting out your own villa, visit



Saphira Turrell, Pearl Publicity, London

Saphira Turrell