Peter Roberts

Another British watchmaker has up until now is Peter Roberts. This is his Grand Complication 5 (£20,000 + VAT according to the website)

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Peter is one of the great veterans of British Watchmaking, having spent 45 years in the business.

Peter qualified as a Fellow of the British Horological Institute in the early 70s. He was the first student from the UK to attend the original WOSTEP course in Neuchatel Switzerland under the direction of the founder Mr Andre Farine. During his time there he developed and constructed a unique mechanism for the Valjoux 72 chronograph.

To advance his horological experiences he spent time with IWC in Schaffhausen and then moved to the main Rolex factory in Geneva. At Rolex he gained the title of “Official Rolex Watchmaker” and so then was transferred to Rolex UK where he spent several years.

Peter then took a position at Garrard and Company – The Crown Jewellers – as Head of Showroom repairs. This was a move that was to change his life as one day a young lady walked in called Marie-Louise and as they say – the rest is history.

He was offered the chance to pass on his knowledge and expertise to the next generation, so qualified as a lecturer which led to him spending 13 years teaching technical horology at Hackney College. One of his teaching projects was designing a rather interesting version of a detent escapement for the students.
Peter became Head of Watchmaking where he taught many fine students including Stephen Forsey, Peter Speake-Marin and Simon Michlmayr.

Peter, Marie-Louise and their family returned back to Geneva where Peter took up a position in a rather special department at Rolex.

After an exciting couple of years the family returned to the UK where Peter and Marie-Louise set up a consultancy in horological technical design where they have advised and assisted a number of British and Swiss brands. One of these companies was Bremont, where Peter spent an enjoyable 4 years and developed amongst other projects, the famous MB roto-click bezel, floating anti-magnetic cage and also their beautiful Marine Clock (which was conceived on his kitchen table!).

Peter spent many years as a consulting lecturer in the UK for Rolex. And of course, he still keeps his watchmaking skills up to date, as he looks after much loved watch collections for a select clientele.

The Roberts horological dynasty continues as Peter’s son James is currently training with his father on chronograph mechanisms.

When Peter and Marie-Louise have any spare time they like to walk in the beautiful Kent countryside or the tranquil surroundings of the Swiss Jura.

For more information www.peterrobertswatches.com .

Scottish Watch Brand – Instrment

In today’s Financial Times I came across an article discussing this Kickstarter project, INSTRUMNT watches from Glasgow.

The watches themselves are to my mind very similar to the Uniform watches that have been on sale for a while. At the heart of these watches is the familiar Swiss Ronda 585 3H quartz movement.

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I am not sure where they are actually making these watches. If you want to find out more before I get back to them their website is www.instrmnt.com.

Watchmaker Loomes on top of the world – watchpro.com

Here’s a nice story on the Watchpro.com website. I have not seen it reported anywhere else, not even on Robert Loomes own website.
Feb 9, 2015
The Robert Loomes & Co. Everest watch.The Robert Loomes & Co. Everest watch.

British watchmaker Robert Loomes will be presenting a mountaineering team from the Royal Gurhka Regiment with watches to help them scale Everest in May.

Stamford-based Robert Loomes & Co. has been working to raise funds for high-altitude health and education organisation The Mountain Trust and will present a number of watches to the Gurhkas in March, ahead of an Everest expedition to celebrate their regiment’s 200 years of service with the British Army this year.

Charles Malcolm-Brown, chairman of The Mountain Trust, will give a presentation before the specially-prepared watches are officially handed over on March 10 at Stamford Town Hall.

The Gurhkas also support the work of the Mountain Trust and are said to be enthusiastic about being equipped with British watches. Mechanical watches are seen as more reliable than quartz alternatives, which can freeze up in the kind of conditions experienced on cold weather expeditions.

Climb leader Captain Dick Gale of the Royal Engineers, currently attached to the Gurhkas, will also be present to receive the watches with some of his team before flying out to Nepal the following week.

Robert and his wife Robina first met at high altitude in Bolivia 24 years ago, almost making it to an altitude of 6,000m. The summit of Everest is at 8,848m.

Selling online: an ultra-rare Roger Smith Series 2 – Salon qp

Some great photos in this piece from the Salon QP website

Something we’ve almost never seen is a watch made by Roger W Smith  for sale online. And it can be yours for… £115,000. Pictures from WatchXchange

Ownership of a Roger W Smith timepiece represents the ultimate horological ambition of many, many serious collectors around the world. But given the tiny numbers of watches that emerge each year from Smith’s Isle of Man studio, and the lengthy waiting list involved, very few people will ever get their hands on one.

Which makes the appearance of one for sale online a rather interesting occurrence – in fact, we thought it may be an internet first, though a comment from the PuristsPro here suggests a bit of precedent (well, if anyone should know…). This Roger W Smith Series 2 has just shown up at the recently launched (and evidently well-connected) online seller WatchXchange, whose founder we profiled in QP magazine in November (read it here). It is priced on the website at an undoubtedly hefty £115,000.

© WatchXchange

The Series 2 is Smith’s “production watch” (he also creates unique pieces on a bespoke basis), but don’t imagine series production amounts to volume: such is the painstaking nature of the work in Smith’s studio, fewer than 10 models emerge each year. It’s one of the rarest watches in the world.

Smith began planning the Series 2 in 2002. At that time he had been working under the guidance of his mentor, the great Dr George Daniels, for several years, slowly mastering the 32 watchmaking skills required to make a watch according to the “Daniels Method”. His ambition was to translate these skills into the creation of a “modern, skill-based, high grade British wrist watch”, but it would be four years before a finished model would be created, with a prototype produced in early 2006. The model for sale here is dated December 2006, according to the engraving on its movement plate, making it one of the earliest Series 2 models to have been created.

© WatchXchange

That movement represents so much of what makes a Roger W Smith watch special. Smith took his inspiration from the pocket watches produced in the great age of British horology, by the likes of Tompion, Graham and Arnold. It demonstrates what Smith describes as a quintessentially British style of watchmaking, characterized by the strong three-quarter plate that occupies much of the view, by the depth of the mechanism’s architecture, and by the understated frosted finish, contrasting with black polished steel parts.

© WatchXchange

© WatchXchangeAnd, of course, there’s the small matter of the Daniels Co-Axial Escapement. George Daniels invented the Co-Axial Escapement as a longer-lasting, lubricant-free alternative to the Swiss lever escapement, eventually selling it to Omega, where it now forms the brand’s most important technical pillar. Only Smith is allowed to employ the system outside Omega. In 2010 he delivered his improvement upon Daniels’ design, the Single Wheel Co-Axial, now found in the Series 2 – though as an older watch, this model contains the first generation version.

The case and dial further demonstrate the extreme hand-worked skills of the Daniels/Smith style of watchmaking: a variety of engine-turned dial patterns, and every element cut, engraved or sculpted by hand.

© WatchXchange

This is simply one of the finest watches in the world, embodying the very rarest horological qualities. And a hell of an opportunity for someone with extremely deep pockets. Though whether it’s really worth the readies WatchXchange is asking… well, the market will determine.

The watch is listed on WatchXchange here, and is offered with original box and paperwork. It can be viewed by appointment in central London.

Bremont – Kingsman Special Edition

Being a British male brought up on endless Bond films I felt obliged to go and see this film. I had also heard about Bremont’s involvement so I wanted to see how “natural” their placements appeared. The film as I expected was a little far-fetched but enjoyable entertainment. However, it did seem odd that every watch you saw was a Bremont.

Bremont Watch Company confirms that the Special Edition Kingsman watch range, developed for acclaimed director Matthew Vaughn’s new film Kingsman: The Secret Service, comprises three new models that are featured throughout the film. The film, due to be released February 2015, from 20th Century Fox, stars Colin Firth, Samuel L Jackson, Michael Caine and emerging actor Taron Egerton. The agents from the super-secret British spy organisation, including Nick English, Co-Founder Bremont, who makes a cameo appearance as one of the Kingsmen, can be seen exclusively wearing these custom made Bremont timepieces.

Here is a trailer

http://www.bremont.com/kingsman

Hoptroff “No 16” – Hodinkee Review

The well renowned watch blog from New York has done a great piece on the crazy looking Hoptroff “No 16”. See the link below.

http://www.hodinkee.com/blog/richard-hoptroffs-atomic-watch-prototype-combines

Bremont ALT1-B Review from Worn&Wound

Bremont is one of those brands I just like. I like the way they do things, I like the people who run it, and, of course, I like their watches. Now, this presents a challenge for me as their watches are also out of the typical worn&wound price range, mostly being above $5k. While I think for watches that price, compared to their competitors, they offer much more watch for your dollar in terms of design, build and engineering… they still are expensive and that can’t be overlooked. But, for the sake of my own and hopefully your general love of rugged timepieces, I am going to break the rules today and go hands-on with the ALT1-B.

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The ALT1-B is a bit of an oddball in the Bremont line-up, with a blacked-out design punctuated by moments of bright red. It’s a bit less polite and clean than its various brothers, but what it lacks in friendliness it makes up for in attitude. This is an intense watch that while discreet in some sense, has a severe look backed by functionality in the form of chronograph and GMT complications as well as an internal pilot’s bezel. That said, the ALT1-B wasn’t just created to add a more aggressive watch to the collection, rather it’s based on a watch specially created for the pilots of the B2 Stealth Bombers… perhaps the fiercest thing to fly. With that in mind, the aesthetic of the ALT1-B clicks into place.

Before I get into it, though this isn’t a new watch for the brand, as luck would have it, its does have relevance right now, with Bremont’s recent announcement of their Kingsman Special Edition. For the new Matthew Vaughn film Kingsman (which seems to be about a sort of organization of Bond-like super soldiers in bespoke suits… that I am really excited for), Bremont was asked to produce 3 special edition watches, all of which have the same basic design as the ALT1-B, and all of which appear on the wrists of the actors throughout the film. There is a model in Rose Gold, a model in steel and the an blacked out model (for the trainees) that is very similar to the ALT1-B, save a few dial details.

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The ALT1-B utilizes the same case design as most of the Bremont line up, with their unique Trip-Tick® construction, and beefy 43mm size. As I noted when I reviewed the MB2, the multi-piece case construction is something to behold, something that sets Bremont apart. Aesthetically, it’s quite attractive, utilizing a separate barrel that has textured sides, and beautifully sculpted lugs. On the ALT1-B, everything is DLC black, utilizing the curves for its stealthy intent. Looks aside, it’s also super tough, with a steel bezel and case back hardened to 2,000 vickers for high scratch resistance.

Also like the MB2, the ALT1-B is fitted with Bremont’s Roto-Click® internal bezel mechanism, controlled by the crown at 8. Essentially, this gives tactile feedback when turning the internal bezel, letting you know when it’s aligned. It’s one of those mechanisms that just makes sense, making you wonder why more brands don’t do something similar.

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Where the ALT1-B really differs is in its dial design. The surface is matte black, on which a medley of black, cool grey and red markers emerge for a dial that is dark, yet surprisingly legible. The hour index is presented in large black lume numerals in a blocky type. At 12, 6 and 9, the numbers are cut off by large sub-dials and at 3 by the date. It is quite discrete, receding into the background, seeming more like texture than a primary index. This was a good design choice as there is a lot going on in the dial and had the numerals stood out too much, it would have gotten too busy.

The large sub-dials at 12, 6 and 9 are the 30-minute counter, 12-hr counter and and active seconds respectively. Each sub-dial features circular graining, which gives them a greasy sheen, and grey indexes. The grey, which is present throughout the dial, was a well chosen tone. It’s a cool grey that is light enough to stand out against the black, yet dark enough to keep with the stealth aesthetic.

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Around the hour index is a 24-hour index in the same grey, which is used with the GMT hand. The area this is printed on actually sits slightly below the central surface, which visually separates the information. Around this is a angled internal bezel, which doubles as a minute and chrono-seconds index. Here, once again, you have grey lines and numerals, as well as small red squares every 5 minutes/seconds and a lumed red triangle at 0/60. While there is red in the hands, this is the only red on the dial, giving it added significance.

Thanks to the chronograph and GMT, the ALT1-B packs 7-hands. The hour and minute are both matte black straight swords with lume filling, for a clean and modern look. The GMT hand is a matte black stick with a red triangular tip, that almost appears to float over the dial. The chrono-seconds is also matte black, but has more mass than the GMT, standing out more for it. It has a red tip and a red lined lumed circle at its end as well. All of the sub-dials have small stick hands with red tips, the only difference being that the active seconds hand is white while the others are matte black, separating out the functions. While I understand the logic there, the white hand is a bit distracting amidst all the black and grey.

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Powering the ALT1-B is what Bremont refers to as a modified caliber BE-54AE, which is likely a modified and rebranded ETA/Valjoux 7754. It’s an automatic GMT chronograph with 25-jewels, hand winding, hacking, date, a 42-hr power reserve and a frequency of 28,800 bph. Like all of Bremont’s timepieces, this is chronometer certified by the COSC, meaning it is regulated and 99% accurate. Looking at it through the case, you can see that it is beautifully decorated with perlage, blued screws and a custom Bremont rotor. Because of the stealth aesthetic, Bremont went with an all black rotor with red lettering, which I have to say is really cool looking.

On the wrist, this watch is a mean looking beast. It’s on the large the side coming in at 43 x 51 x 16mm, at times feeling a bit too big my for my 7” wrist, but didn’t look as big as it felt thanks to the all black coating. The Trip-Tick case has beautiful curves that are stylized by the DLC, paying proper tribute to the B2’s the watch draws upon. The dial then appears like a matte black surface from a distance, revealing it’s texture and nuance up close. My problem with many all black watches is that they are hard to actually read at-a-glance, but the ALT1-B is clear as day. The glints of red, and the subtle but visible grey make the information pop-out.

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The ALT1-B is unapologetically a tool watch. It’s tough and rugged with a distinct military feel. As such, this isn’t a pilot’s watch that can masquerade as a dress watch, nor is it meant to. It’s a watch to be used and actually worn (part of what I like so much about Bremont’s watches). It’s a watch best matched with similarly rugged clothing and materials. Think dark and earthy colors, denim, leather, etc…

So, I like the Bremont ALT1-B quite a bit. It’s a fun watch to wear that is exceptionally well made, that I imagine if you have the need for tough-as-nails GMT chronograph, and the around $6,400 to spare, would perfectly suit your uses. What I personally draw from it, since I’m not close to spending that on a watch right now, is more an appreciation for how a blacked out watch can be done right. Many forget that in the end of the day, the watch still needs to be useful. The ALT1-B balances the sleek and aggressive elements of the blacked-out design with legibility, for something stylish and functional.