Gasgas Bones

GasgasBones is a small company started by Chris Evans.

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GasGasBones

Chris served nearly 25 Years in the Royal Air Force as a Survival Equipment Fitter. As a Survival Equipment Fitter he was responsible for the service, repair and rectification of man carrying parachutes, harnesses, Brake parachutes, Night vision equipment, helmet mounted sights, some ejection seat components, lifrafts and Apache flying clothing and lots more ! He did tours in The Falklands, Kuwait, Oman, Jordan and Afghanistan along with a ton of shorter detachments in other counties along the way.

As GasGasBones he has been making bespoke nylon watch straps for over seven years. The first velcro strap not long after getting his first Omega Speedmaster Pro. Since then he has built up a great range of straps that are pretty much unique. They suit many tool watches and have been used on anything and everything in the past years!

From the introduction of the Bremont MB range of watches and for around 3 years after, Chris produced the nylon straps issued as the secondary strap included with the MB watch. Due to family commitments in late 2011 he unfortunately had to cease in manufacturing the standard MB straps. However, in 2013 he was pleased to resume manufacture of this standard strap for BREMONT along with the red stitch Martin Baker strap. The MB1 watch and strap is only ever available to to ejectees that have used the Martin Baker ejection seats to escape their crippled aircraft. He is am also very pleased to say that he designed and manufactured the strap used by Bremont ambassador Gary Connery who became the first man to leap 2400 feet and land safely without using a parachute !!

GasGasBones currently produce the nylon straps for three watch companies.

In late 2013 GasGasBones released my first watch, the 6B MK1 which is a military inspired mechanical chronograph. A limited edition of just 20 it sold out within three months. The success of the MK1 has gave the confidence to release a second 6B watch, the MK2 which is available now.

C9 GT40 POWER RESERVE – LIMITED EDITION – PRE ORDER NOW FOR END NOVEMBER

Christopher Ward have announced a new limited edition watch which appears to be following the Bremont lead of adding bits of “precious” material to add “heritage”. In this case they are including metal from a GT40 car.

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This is what they have to say about it.

One of only 107 GT40s produced between 1964 and ’69, #P-1075, with its innovative monocoque chassis and distinctive pale blue and orange Gulf Oil livery, was an engineering triumph – where British modifications fine-tuned an American automotive powerhouse to create a legend of the endurance racing circuit. And the fact it is still the only car to have twice won the world-renowned 24 Hours of Le Mans race, makes it a true ‘holy grail’ artefact of not only British, but global, motorsport.

A laser-cut ‘wheel’ of aluminium from the wheel-spinner of GT40 #P-1075 itself is precious material, then, to be fitted within the backplate of our latest paean to motorsport in watchmaking, the C9 GT40. Set under museum-grade sapphire crystal, the disc reveals between its spokes the workings of the ETA Valgranges A07.161 movement within.

Aspects of the car are replicated with meticulous attention to authentic detail, with a faithful representation of the rev counter evident in each cue of the dial, from the needle hands to the realistic indexes and the bold blaze of the red zone, not to mention the “fuel gauge” power reserve indicator driven by the powerful Valgranges A07 movement. Subtle reference in ceramic to the car’s blue and orange Gulf Oil colours adorns the crown.

Each piece of the 40-piece Limited Edition is assembled by hand in Switzerland by master watchmaker Johannes Jahnke, with the ETA Valgranges A07.161 movement delivering a 46 hour power reserve as well as supreme accuracy.

Pursuing a personal mission, prevailing over adversity, and securing the ultimate prize – triumph – all these make the evocative story of #P-1075 a fertile source of inspiration when we looked to design the C9 GT40 in the spirit of British motor racing.

With only 40 pieces produced of this significant watch, we expect to be flooded with demand for each piece. Use the below link to pre-order your C9 GT40, and contact Wera Mettes (wera.mettes@christopherward.co.uk) if you wish to reserve your preferred serial number (#1-#40) on a strictly first-come, first-served basis.

C9 GT40 Video

Link to more details & photos

Roger Smith – BBC Interview – By Chris Baraniuk

For the full interview and all the great photos follow this link :

BBC Interview

Fetching hundreds of thousands of pounds, they’re the ultimate statement piece. Who are the people that make the world’s most intricately designed watches?

Unknown

Roger Smith’s heart was in his mouth. Across the table from him sat George Daniels, the best watchmaker in the world. Here they were in Daniels’ own workshop, on the Isle of Man. Smith was only 27. He’d flown over from his home in the north of England to show something to the great craftsman. Something he’d been working on for five and a half years. A handmade mechanical watch.
He waited anxiously as Daniels turned the device over gently in his hands, inspecting every surface and every detail with an authoritative eye. Daniels asked Smith to confirm who had made various bits of the watch. To every question, Smith’s reply came back, “I did.” There were only a few of these questions. And then, Daniels stood up. “Congratulations,” he said, with a smile, “you’re a watchmaker.”
That was how it all really began in earnest for Smith, who shortly afterwards became Daniels’ apprentice. Although Daniels passed away in 2011, Smith now produces his own line of luxury watches, still on the Isle of Man.

Despite the rise of electronic watches, demand for mechanical timepieces has remained among those who can afford them, with manufacturers ranging from Rolex to Patek Phillipe. What’s unusual about Smith and his small team is that they make just 10 watches a year. They’re very rare, very beautiful – and very expensive. What goes in to the making of intricate watches like these?

he RW Smith workshop, nestled in a hamlet on the Isle of Man, is actually a cottage – once Smith’s own house – converted into a kind of mini factory. The whole area is relaxed and rural. On one side of the building lies the Irish Sea, just visible across a field. To the other, Snaefell Mountain, gently reclining in the distance.

Quietly, in the midst of this idyllic landscape, the RW Smith watchmakers spend hours, days, weeks and months crafting the components for every watch. Cutting, drilling, weighing, polishing – all at a minuscule scale. Inside the workshop itself are just three rooms containing some vintage watchmaking machinery, a noisy milling device and a series of benches where the most delicate parts of the procedure can be painstakingly carried out under ample overhead light.
Smith has set everything up as precisely as one of his watches. He points to the milling machine. “It’s German,” he says, “It’s used extensively in Switzerland in the watch industry. And this gives us total independence from anyone. It enabled me to design a new British [watch] movement.”

A drawer in a large cabinet is pulled open. Tiny boxes labelled all the way up to 100 and beyond lie in neatly arranged rows – the individual components for one of Smith’s Series 2 watches. In another corner lies an older milling machine, originally bought by Daniels in the 1970s. It’s not needed anymore. But an even more ancient-looking device near it is. It’s used for engine-turning – a kind of geometric metallic patterning which is one of the signature features of an RW Smith watch design.
Smith points to one of his in-production dials to explain. “A dial like that will take about two to two-and-a-half weeks to make,” he says, commenting that it is designed to be serviceable or restorable in 100 or 200 years’ time – if not more. “The lettering and numerals are all hand cut and we fill those with ink so that they can all be refreshed when the time comes.”

There is a clean whiteness to the metal of the dial and Smith explains that this hue is achieved by heating the material, silver, under a flame to oxidise it gently. That’s the sort of detail few might realise goes into the production of a device like this.
“The finish has got to be completely flawless. There are no excuses, it’s either right or wrong, there’s no in-between,” he says.

The effort required to achieve this level of – to use Smith’s own word – perfection, is mind-boggling. One single watch, depending on its complexity, could take three years to make. And from start to finish Smith’s watchmakers are working to tolerances of within 3-4000th of a millimetre. Anything less could make the watch unreliable. And in the assembly of each one, it’s the final stages which are the most challenging. “It’s very, very demanding,” says Smith.

“Suddenly every single time you pick up the watch you’ve got to protect it with your fingers. You’ve got to think about picking up the screwdriver to un-do a screw, you don’t want to slip because if you slip you could spend a couple of days correcting the fault.”
During this process, the watchmaker can enter a near trance-like state, he admits. “You have to sharpen your wits. You have to just sit down and really concentrate,” says Smith.
As he explains, a watch is a relatively simple concept as a mechanical device. Energy stored in a coiled spring is gradually released by a mechanism called an “escapement”, essentially a series of gears. Ultimately these gears turn a final set of cogs which unwind and move the minute and hour hands. It’s a complicated business, though, because of the small size and the aforementioned tolerances involved. And also because of the longevity. Watch owners expect their watches to work flawlessly without servicing or interfering with them for many years. Imagine, says Smith, asking your car’s engine to be as reliable.

Smith’s low rate of production means there is currently a three year waiting list for one of his Series 2’s. If you are prepared to wait, an RW Smith watch currently starts at £100,000 though he is also making several other watches, using a movement designed by George Daniels himself, which cost £174,000. For some clients that’s a drop in the ocean, though. Smith’s latest bespoke project for one customer will sport a completely unique design. “That will be probably over a million by the time it’s finished,” he says nonchalantly.

Despite being so remote, Smith’s workshop does get visited by his wealthy clients. “They all come at some point,” he says. “I think it’s only really when they come and visit that they fully understand what we’re trying to do here. When they see the kind of working, the finishing of components that go into a watch.”

It hasn’t always been easy. Smith says that there were times in the early days of his business when he was “on the breadline”. At one point, things were so dire that he even had to sell the special watch he made all those years ago to impress George Daniels.
It’s clear Smith has an uncompromising view about quality, and the importance of his craft. “I make no apology for being a purist. Ours is the purest of mechanical arts,” he wrote last year in an open letter online criticising the shortcuts of other British watchmakers. He argued they were misleading customers as to the origins of their watches’ components. Some, it had transpired, were selling Swiss-made movements in their watches while claiming them as wholly British designs.
What does Smith think of the Apple Watch? “Not a great deal really,” he quips. For Smith, a watch is mechanical, it has a soul, he says, and can be seen as a friend or companion. “It might sound a bit nutty, but, you know, it’s something that you can understand and really look at and study,” he explains.

“I don’t know if you can ever have that connection with an electronic thing that you have to keep charging every day and that only has a tiny amount of information in it.”

Bremont – Giles English comments

In an interview with I-Magazine Giles English made these interesting comments which hopefully bode well for the development of the UK watch industry.

What business plans do you have planned for the next five years?

More of the same, growing our UK production and our global distribution

How has watchmaking evolved within the UK?

It’s definitely an exciting time for the British watch trade, the industry has some great guys making watches. People forget that there is a huge history behind British watch making. Our goal has always been to help reinvigorate and restart the industry in Britain. By having our own apprentice schemes and investing in equipment for our new parts manufacturing facility in Silverstone we are definitely building on that.

Garrick Regulator Update

As promised I contacted Garrick to see if they could give me more information about their new Regualtor model.


They are using a base Unitas but adding their own gear train, free-sprung balance and winding barrel. In reality is there not much left of the original movement.

They have been working on this for some time and mainly to show what they can do with standard movements.It’s to showcase their watchmaking.

They are only releasing a limited number because it takes some time to build. Remember they are not mass producing watches and everything is assembled and finished by hand or in-house including the hands, balance and gears.

Garrick is extremely busy right now and they have to have plans to produce realistic numbers. They also think it’s a truly unique watch and want customers to have something truly limited.

Pinion Axis Automatic- Upgrade

Pinion have announced a redesign and upgrade to their original AXIS AUTOMATIC collection of watches.
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When PINION launched in 2013, we debuted with AXIS – a trio of watches available in steel, DLC and bronze. Since then, they’ve evolved their designs with the PURE and REVIVAL watches and have now revised the original line up to bring these in line our current and future releases.

The 2015 Axis will still be sized at 42mm but will take it’s dial reference directly from the graphic language of the R1969 and PURE timepieces. It’ll include a more detailed dial with applied indexes plus the case has been re-modeled to include our two-step supermodel bezel that was last seen on the R-1969.

The collection will be released later this year and will be available in the original form of steel, black and bronze – I’ll keep you updated with more news on this in the coming months.