Are Pocket Watches Practical ?

I had disappeared down one of those internet rabbit holes when I came across an article on an american website entitled “Here’s why your pants have a teeny tiny pocket that’s too small to use”. As a regular wearer of jeans, I had often pondered the answer to this question. I had in the past seen this pocket being referred to a the “fob pocket” but not thought any more about it.

The article explains that the little pocket was originally intended as somewhere to keep your pocket or “fob” watch. They originally appeared on Levis working overalls in the 1890’s when of course pocket watches were common.

During the current health crisis, I am like many of you working from home. I use a pocket watch as desk clock on my limited workspace. So, I thought why not use the watch as it was intended, in a pocket, maybe then I could get to use my wife’s grandfather’s gold Patek. Now before reading the article I had considered pocket watches required the wearing of a waistcoat, a fashion I am still not following despite the attempts of Gareth Southgate. I am however a regular wearer of “five pocket jeans”.  Bingo, I am almost ready to experiment.

My pocket watch is one of the “found in a draw” objects from my Mother’s home. It is a Leonidas GSTP with a government arrow on the back. As with most families we had many family members who did some form of military service in the twentieth century so I am not sure of the origins of this particular piece; I like to think of it as having been my paternal grandfather’s,  he spent the Second World War in the Royal Naval dockyard at Portsmouth, but I not completely convinced,

The watch has passed several decades unused in it’s draw. I took it home and wound it up, as I have come to expect from these less sophisticated vintage items – it ran. Not only does it run, it actually keeps pretty good time. It did rattle a little but all I had to do was prise off the back of the case and tighten up two little screws. Almost set for the experiment but no pocket watch is really practical without a watch chain. Without the chain it difficult to get the watch out of the “teeny tiny” pocket. In two days the famous purveyors of horological goodies, Amazon, supplied me with something appropriate.

So, is a pocket watch viable daily beater after all many millennials use rely on the modern-day equivalent – their mobile phone. An alternative title for this article might therefore be “Can I use a pocket watch instead of my phone?”.

After my couple of days trial, I have reached an interim conclusion that I your daily routine consists of sitting at a desk, a pocket watch does work pretty well as a desk clock. But once you move away, for whatever reason, you do need to remember to take the watch with you. If you try the other option of keeping the watch in the “teeny tiny pocket” it is not super easy to pull out ever time you need to see the time. If, however, you are on your feet most of the time consulting the watch in the little pocket represents less of a challenge.

After posting some images of the watch on Instagram on possible block to regular use of this pocket watch was pointed out by Alexandre Meerson, possible radioactivity of the hands. Making keeping the watch in the little pocket very close to your groin feel less inviting…. Oh well when I get used to using pocket watches I will just have to use the Patek 😊

The Greenwich Time Lady

A couple of weeks ago a thoughful family member passed onto me one of those glossy watch supplements that many magazines publish. As I thumbed through it I did not expect to find anything particularily interesting. To my surprise I came across a review of a book titled ” Ruth Belville – the Greenwich Time Lady” by David Rooney.

Already I was intrigued by the title, as it is very similar to Grinidgetime. Apart from this it promised to add a little more local knowledge to me as a Greenwich resident interested in time. As the title suggestes the book tells the story of Ruth Belville and her family and how they brought the correct time to businesses in London for over over three generations.

For anyone with similar interests it is a fascinating read. On my travels around the town I have found myself looking at places where the family had lived. Even without the local interest the book gives a fascinating insight into the importance of time in the 19th and early 20th centuries and key role of the Royal Observatory in Greenwich.

The book is also a veritable goldmine of interesting horological companies, great inspiration for anyone wondering what to call the latest kickstarter brand.

One slight disappointment for me was that the maps used on the inside and back covers do not actually cover Greenwich Park and as a consequence the Royal Observatory.

William Wood

Again I have to have been a little sceptical of this brand when they first popped up on Instagram, now with the launch of their second watch I have to admit that I was possibly a little quick to judge. The brand like many others just had to get itself of the ground.

The first watch the Chivalrous collection, as you can see above, was a fairly generic looking quartz powered two hander. One feature I did like, as a fan of solid casebacks, was the solid caseback incorporating a brass coin made from a melted down 1923 firefighter’s helmet.

The story behind the watch is quiet interesting, the company’s founder’s, Jonny Garrett, grandfather was William Wood a firefighter. The company, as many others, was launched after a Kickstarter campaign. They have susequently won the Esquire Self-Made Entrepreneur of the Year 2018. They aspire to becoming a British luxury brand that uses recycled firefighting material in a sustainable, cool and chivalrous way.

Their next step towards acheiving this goal is their second watch, the Valiant, an different take on a classic divers watch again using recycled firefighting materials.

In this case the strap is made from recycled fire hoses. For those that might not be keen on a red strap there is also a military version using ex-military fire service green hoses.

Apart from the straps and the firefighter’s helmet logo on the dial the watches follow the classic format.

Technical Specifications:

  • Swiss ETA 2824 or Japanese NH35 Automatic movement
  • Case diameter 41mm
  • Case thickness 16mm
  • Lug width 20mm
  • Water Resistant 100 metres / 10 ATM
  • 316L Stainless Steel case and metal band
  • Double domed sapphire crystal glass with anti-reflective coating and blue tint
  • Rotating bezel with Super-LumiNova 12 dot
  • Super-LumiNova hands, indices and bezel 12 dot
  • Domed dial with date window and sweeping second hand
  • Crown inset made from original 1920’s British brass firefighters helmet

The watches are reasonably priced at £695 for the NH35 version or £995 for the ETA.

I am sure here might be many watch buyers that for some reason or other are not keen on the military associations of many of this type of watch on offer. These watches offer that alternative. You can discover more and buy the watches at https://williamwoodwatches.com/.

Maals – Scottish Watches Podcast

Another brand that has been on my radar for a while now is Maals. Unfortunately for me, I still not had a chance to see their watches in the metal as the brand is based in the midlands and I am of course in Greenwich. In a normal year I would surely have run into them at one of the numerous watch events, so here is hoping for a “new normal” that will allow our social life to re-start.

As you can see their first watch the “Jumping over the moon” is very distinctive looking.

In the absence of any contact other than a couple of Instagram messages I have been able to gain some insight into the company and the founders via the ever entertaining Scottish Watches podcast.

The watches themselves can be found at https://maals.co.uk/

Zero West – TT58

A GOLDEN AGE FOR BRITISH MOTORSPORT

The latest watch from the Emsworth based watch brand Zero West is the TT58 a celebration of British motor racing. This classic Zero West timepiece has strong minimalist lines, an instrument inspired motorsport dial, smooth case and mirror polished DSL lugs.The TT-58 is British designed and engineered. The watch is powered by the stellar Swiss ETA 2824 automatic movement and is fitted with a ZW handmade strap in British racing green with vintage contrasting stitching and an engraved polished buckle.

Then for me the “piece de resistance” is the engraved solid caseback, unfortunately the best image I could find to show you was this one below from Instragram.

Technical Details

Case

  • 44mm diameter, brushed 316L stainless steel body
  • Match machined, polished, 316L stainless steel DSL lugs
  • 22mm lug width

Movement

  • ETA 2824
  • 28,800vph
  • 25 jewels
  • Self-winding ball bearing rotor
  • Date function
  • Power reserve ~38 hours
  • Water resistance: 10ATM (100m) 100% tested

Price – £2200

For more information and to order https://zerowest.watch/

Special Edition – Bremont

This post title as you might imagine is a little tongue in cheek. Bremont have made a name for themselves launching numerous collaborative special editions, such as HMS Victory, the Wright Brothers or most recently the H4.

Well this week the announced the opportunity for all of us to collaborate to create our own watch, based on the MBII.

The MBII is for me “the Bremont watch” in so far as it is a good, well designed, distinctve watch. The watch has been available in a variety of colour/strap variations for sometime.

You can now specify your own choice of colour for the case, barrel and dial with a display or solid case back – all at the following website https://www.bremont.com/pages/mybremontmb

Hamtun – Kickstarter

I have been following the Hamtun brand since their first Kickstarter project in 2015. I first noted them as they were the first Hampshire watch brand I came across and despite now being a Greenwich resident I am originally from the county. I have still to actually see one of their watches in the metal, I live in hope. However, Ross Davis’ watches have won the admiration of many in the watch community.

This new kickstarter launch went live today and has, as I type, already well over 400 backers for a price of £279. for the version with the PT5000 movement. This movement, for those of you not already familiar, is a copy of the popular ETA2824-2 movement made by HK Technologies in Hong Kong for a considerably lower price.

Hopefully I will one day get to handle one of these watches.

A Positive Story

It is difficult to to think of normal life and how the world was only a few weeks ago during the current health crisis, which makes it difficult to blog about watches. This difficulty is increased as there is very little watch news to report on. On the other hand most of us “non-essential” workers now have more time on our hands so writing could be a useful distraction.

Garrick Watches have solved this dilema for me. Last week they announced their latest watch the S3.

Now, I am not usually a big fan of skeleton dials but I think this is a really attractive looking watch, The blue hands and indicies really make telling the time clearer than it often is with this dial type, which I now understand is not a skeleton but “open worked”.

The S3 feaures a development of the exclusive movement Garrick movement known as UT-GO4., assembled, finished and regulated in Garrick’s own British workshop.

Limited to only 5 pieces per year. Available in steel or gold.

Please note: Each watch is handmade to order and our current build time is around 5 months. Priced at£24,995

.