To test the new Waterman Apex Limited Edition, Bremont enlisted the help of world renowned big-wave surfer and all-round waterman Laird Hamilton to put the watch through its paces in its natural habitat. Laird is an American sportsman, waterman, pioneer, and innovator who has joined Bremont’s impressive line-up of Brand Ambassadors. A celebrated innovator and guiding genius of crossover board sports including tow-in-surfing, stand-up paddle boarding and hydrofoil boarding, Laird is the ultimate Waterman, continuously pushing himself beyond endurance and expanding all possibilities within the sport. Read our Q&A to find out more about Laird and how he has put the new limited edition Waterman Apex through its paces…
What was it like growing up in Hawaii?
Growing up in Hawaii was a little bit like the Wild, Wild West. It was big ocean, big winds, powerful people and just a powerful land. So it was a strong way to learn on the oceans. My journey started in the rip tides at Banzai Pipeline, the most dangerous beach in the world at the time.
How did you fall in love with surfing?
I fell in love with surfing because it was what all the men around me were doing when I was young. Everywhere I looked there were great watermen. They were great fishermen, great divers, great sailors and upmost great surfers, so surfing and being a waterman was the thing that all the men that I admired did. It was like the national sport and a cultural activity. The ocean is also a place of equality. It's the grand master, the teacher.
How did your relationship with the ocean begin?
As a kid, I began by body surfing, then boogie boarding, then short boarding, from there longboarding and stand-up paddling, wind surfing, kiting, foiling. You just have a plethora of activities and each is like a tool to utilise depending on the different conditions. As you get more proficient at each tool, you're able to use these tools where the conditions require.
Growing up in Hawaii, were there certain people that you looked up to?
Where I grew up lived the best waterman in the world and I admired those who were good men first, before being great watermen. And so, you know, the men that I looked up to were good fathers, good husbands, good friends, just good men. They were who I admired and respected. My stepdad was a phenomenal surfer and someone that I admired and wanted to emulate as a young man.
Why do you feel so comfortable in the ocean?
Well, I think my comfort from the ocean comes from my understanding of it. I’ve developed a certain level of experience in the ocean and I have an idea of what it's going to do. They say that there's a predictability to chaos. If you truly understand the ocean then it never surprises you, it's reliable and truthful and so you begin to understand where the waves come from, what the waves are going to do and what the current does.
What does the ocean mean to you?
For me it's where all life comes from. The ocean covers most of the earth and has the most amount of creatures in it, the biggest creatures, the most vicious ones, the most beautiful ones, the most fragile ones. The ocean means life. Without it, there is no life on earth.
Are there many times where you have been tested beyond endurance?
I've done some pretty epic endurance challenges in my career, paddled between islands, paddled the English Channel, paddled the Molokai Channel, paddled some of the roughest channels in the world. I was working on the film called ‘Waterworld’ and I drove a jet ski from one island and got taken off course with bad visibility and was around 60 miles out in the ocean. I started to think about whether I was ever going to come back again and what that meant to me. I've been held under by waves and wondered if I was going to get back to the surface. As a young child, I was rescued weekly. I was rescued so often. I think that's where I started to get comfortable with that feeling that you might not make it, and so I think that's where a lot of the education came from at a young age. Those experiences have allowed me to go into certain situations that maybe should have been more dangerous for me than they were, because of my comfort and my experience.
How do you not break from something like that?
Well, I think the reason why the traumatic experiences that I've had in the ocean didn't break me was because I love it. I love the ocean, and I would never want to jeopardize that relationship. It's like it's a relationship that you just don't want to end. Even when times are tough, that doesn't stop you. You don't quit. And so that's what keeps me coming back. I love the ocean and that will never end. I'm hard to discourage when I love something!
Tell us about your workout routine and why is exercising so important to you?
Exercising is just as important as eating, sleeping and drinking water. It’s a part of existence. I do it for mental clarity and focus, for preparation and to be able to continue to do things at the level that I'd like to do them. It brings clarity to thought because the system's running well and is functioning optimally. I've developed an extensive workout routine over the years. Some of it has come from being hurt and a lot of it has come out of trying to create a fitness program that's sustainable and that I can do until I'm dead. A lot of my training is based on making me a better swimmer, making me hold my breath longer, making me stronger, making my balance better, but it's also something that I can sustain and not get injured from.
What does it take to ‘find yourself’?
I think to find yourself takes honesty. You have to be honest, not only in your life, but to yourself. My mom said to me once, you know, if you can't be true to yourself, you can't be true to anyone else. Sometimes it's uncomfortable because the truth can hurt.
Have you ever encountered sharks?
When I was young, I was diving on nets and experienced huge hammerheads and giant tigers, but for the amount of time that I've been in the sea, the number of sharks I've seen is so very few. In Hawaii it’s believed that the spirits of your ancestors live in the sharks. They are just one of the most magnificent creatures that have ever existed on our Earth and so to protect them seems only natural. There are people that I know throughout the years that have been attacked by a shark and they always become the greatest advocates for shark preservation and protection because they know it's not personal. When you spend any time with sharks, you realize that they really aren't interested in us.
What does ocean conservation mean to you?
Caring for our oceans is of upmost importance. I'm involved with programs that help the ocean and educate about its beauty and majesty. For some people, there’s a disconnect with the ocean, perhaps because of their proximity to it, but when you’re in it, doing things in it, surrounded by the creatures in it, it changes everything. We have to get people caring about it, through all of these activities we are raising awareness and creating engagement around the topic. In doing this, we all carry it and we all play a part in finding the solutions. I've been gifted with the opportunity to be able to do these things in the ocean that inspire people and so if I share that inspiration with other people then it will hopefully play a small part in making change. You never know who you are going to influence through your actions. I don't know what child or what person I will be able to influence by sharing my love for the ocean and what they will then go on to do to affect change…They could be the next Jacques Cousteau!
You’ve been testing the new Bremont Waterman Apex for a little while now, what do you make of its performance?
The first thought that comes to mind is durability. There are many other watches out there that you just can’t put through the same paces. You just look at this watch and you know that it has been engineered to tackle anything. There’s also something I really appreciate knowing that this has been hand-built by a craftsman and built to last. In the disposable world that we live in now, I think that is extremely important. The mechanism is amazing and to be able to see it working is incredible - it's a piece of art that I can appreciate. What's equally impressive is the fact that it’s water resistant to 500 metres. I hope I don't go down past 100 metres but I know that it can go deeper than I can. So, if I'm down there and I don't come back, at least the watch is going to be intact!
THE BREMONT WATERMAN APEX
Designed to celebrate life on and under the water, the Waterman Apex is a high-performance mechanical dive watch forming part of Bremont’s iconic Supermarine range. Limited to just 250 pieces, the Waterman Apex is not just built to be entirely fit for purpose, but sales of the watch will also be supporting oceanic research for the pioneering non-profit organisation Bimini Shark Lab.DISCOVER THE WATERMAN APEX