-Shop the Look-
It is that time of a year again and I have been exclusively invited by Bremont Watches to experience a British day out at Henley. The day begins with a luxury chauffeur to whisk me away and I look forward to a Fortnum and Mason treat for breakfast during the journey – who can tell what the rest of the day will bring? This is a five-day regatta with hundreds of boats rowing up and down the Thames, watched by banks of spectators and with over 300,000 watching, we can expect the 2018 Henley Royal Regatta to be a real showstopper. It is the hottest day of the year so far, a perfect start to the day and to enjoy a spot of racing in Henley, so here are a few things to keep in mind before the festivities commence.
Founded in March 1839, it is the best-known regatta in existence – a series of rowing races on the river. This year sees boats from around the world – including Germany, Australia, New Zealand, Netherlands, France, USA, China and Canada – as well as prestigious universities like Harvard and Yale, joining the race. It’s the third-largest year on record for entries, with 565 boats.
Upwards of 100,000 people attend Henley Royal Regatta each July. It is an event caught in a bubble of history with echoes of a bygone era everywhere: fine hats, striped blazers, picnics in the car park, come rain or shine, decorated launches bobbing on the white booms that line the course, Pimms jugs clinking with ice, champagne and oysters, a brass band playing military tunes, and all the while a titanic battle is being fought on the water. Brentwood had dispatched the favourites, Eton, in the semi-finals the day before and Shrewsbury had beaten Radley in a slower time. There is expectation and excitement all along the river bank – not least in the Stewards’ Enclosure where nervous parents fidget, check their watches, exchange anxious glances and wonder why the commentator has not mentioned the race yet. Be patient – the time will come.
-Bremont Watches –
Home to both fiercely competitive rowing and cutting-edge fashions, the regatta will this year be welcoming three new trophies. Elsewhere, it will be the usual bustle of elegance and athleticism about the town, as the social elite, sporting the most sophisticated in haute couture, rub shoulders with sportsmen and women in their physical prime at Steward’s Enclosure.
The best vantage point is from the Stewards’ Enclosure. Perhaps confusingly, you don’t actually need to be a steward, but you do have to be a member or a member’s guest (and the waiting list for membership is currently 10 yrs +). Take the opportunity to tuck into your picnic first in Butler’s Field before heading to the Stewards’ Enclosure, then making your way to the Competitors’ Enclosure or the Committee Lawn – if you’re lucky enough, according to one Henley veteran. Can’t wait a decade? Hospitality enclosures at Fawley Meadow offer the best of the best with a majestic view and an abundance of champagne without queueing, plus the opportunity to speak to Olympic Gold medallists Alex Gregory and Greg Searle. Then you can enjoy a delicious lunch overlooking the river, followed by a beautiful afternoon boat trip and a further bottle of champagne or perhaps a Pimm’s. If all else fails, you can even charter your own rowing boat and moor on the booms like others do.
G. K. Chesterton once said that while Royal Ascot is ‘Britain at its triumphant best’, Henley Royal Regatta is ‘Britain at its leisurely rest’: a time when the country joins together ‘in one great garden party’. True, the dress code is more relaxed than Ascot. Straw Panama hats replace silk toppers, and colourful boating blazers replace black or grey morning coats, but the sporting endeavour is just as great and every bit as exciting. Top squads of rowers will descend upon a sleepy stretch of the River Thames in just over a week’s time to pull-pull together towards victory.
Be aware of the specific dress code for the opulent soiree. Inside the Stewards’ Enclosure is a strict dress code – a lounge suit or jacket with flannels and a tie or cravat for boys, and dresses or skirts (hemlines beneath the knee) but no trousers for girls. Straw hats are optional. The Regatta Enclosure has a more relaxed ‘smart casual’ dress code. Anything goes on the banks, but check with individual hospitality areas for whatever degree of smartness may be required. This is the perfect opportunity to dress in your best, with this sophisticated large Prince of Wales checked blazer from New and Lingwood, a sleek Panama hat from Lock and Co Hatters and a limited-edition briefcase in collaboration between David Gandy and Aspinal of London, everything you need to bring together the very best of British ensembles. The final piece in my ensemble jigsaw is this timeless Bremont watch, which has undoubtedly received the most attention of all. It is a classic Bremont S300 with BE-92AE automatic chronometer, 38-hour power reserve and a 40mm stainless steel trip-tick case construction – water resistant to 30 ATM, 300 metres and co-ordinated with a blue Temple Island strap. What more could anyone ask for in a watch?
In more recent years, the town has earned a new reputation as the home of British watchmaking. Bremont Watch Company established their headquarters in Henley in 2005. These luxury watchmakers design and build beautiful mechanical timepieces near the banks of the River Thames and are focussed on reviving the watchmaking industry in Great Britain. Now, these two Henley organisations have joined forces, with Bremont, appointed the first Official Timekeeper in Henley Royal Regatta’s history. Bremont will handcraft commemorative mechanical stopwatches for Henley Royal Regatta and develop a range of Regatta wristwatches. 2017 marks the first time in 178 years that the renowned British event, Henley Royal Regatta, will partner with a small number of luxury brands. British Watch Company Bremont will be the first Official Timekeeper in the Regatta’s established history.
Thank you Bremont for a wonderful experience at Henley Royal Regatta! Now to keep an eye on the time, watch the start of the very first race and time for some Pimm’s. Cheers!