Tonight Show host Jimmy Fallon presented his father-in-law, Marine Corps veteran William H. Juvonen, with a commemorative Bremont watch during Tuesday’s show.
The Bremont MBI was designed and tested in partnership with British Aviation company Martin Baker and is only available to people who have ejected from planes with Martin Baker ejection seats. The watch features a distinct red aluminium barrel and is protected by an anti-magnetic Faraday cage and anti-shock case mount.
Fallon told the audience that his discovery of the watch happened last summer in London. He was drawn into the Bremont store by the sight of an ejection seat in the window, and after talking to the salesperson, and later his wife, he realized that his own father-in-law had ejected from a Martin Baker seat in 1961.
Fallon told the audience the story of the harrowing escape and then shared a closeup of the watch, engraved with Juvonen’s call sign, “Cosmo.” Juvonen was in the audience and Fallon came out from behind the desk to present the watch and give him a hug.
“Thank you for your service and thank you for your daughter—I love you so much,” Fallon said.
Bremont was founded in 2002 by brothers Nick and Giles English after their father, an ex-Royal Airforce pilot, died in an aviation accident.
The MBI watch collaboration came about when Andrew Martin of Martin Baker contacted Bremont in 2008 with the idea to create a watch that had been through the same testing as the seats that had saved so many lives. “Martin Baker ejection seats have saved 7,500 lives to date,” Nick English tells JCK. “It’s become a really elite club, and it’s really quite special.” As Fallon mentioned on the show, there is already a Tie Club for survivors (Fallon’s father-in-law’s Tie Club number: 228), but Bremont wanted to create a watch they could also buy.
“My brother and I are heavily ensconced in aviation through our father, and we knew about Martin Baker—if you’re a pilot , you know about that sort of thing; from an engineer’s perspective, they are just the ultimate,” he says. “So we did development with them over a couple of years and we put the watches through vibration testing and climatic testing and it built up from there. Their facility is like Q’s laboratory out of a James Bond film, it’s so impressive.”
English estimates that the company has delivered a few hundred of the watches to survivors over the years. “They are seen as almost family heirlooms, it’s a big part of someone’s life when they have gone through something like that,” he says. “These guys who eject from these aircraft, people were literally pulling this handle to save their lives. They were pretty much sitting on shotgun cartridges and to survive these things! It’s such a story.”
Though the MBI is only available to survivors of airplane ejections in Martin Baker seats, two other versions of the watch—notably without the red aluminum barrel—are available for retail purchase, the MBII and MBIII. “It’s become a bit of an iconic watch in the aviation industry,” he says. The retail price of the MBII is $4,500. Martin Baker subsidizes a portion of the price of the MBI for survivors.
Martin Baker verifies the identity of each survivor who wishes to buy the MBI.
“Giles and I would love one, but we can’t have one—it is probably one of the most exclusive watches in the world,” English says. “If we ever have an event and we get two or three of the guys in the same room, they make a beeline for each other.”
Courtesy of Bremont