Garrick Portsmouth

When I met David Brailsford a couple of months ago he told me about the new movement they were working on to put in a new watch to be launched at this year’s Salon QP. At the time the name was Plymouth and he told be it would be significantly more expensive than Garrick’s current range.

More details are now available. Here is what it looks like.

The Garrick Portsmouth
The Garrick Portsmouth

He was not joking about the price, this new watch will be on sale for £17,995.

At the heart of the new Portsmouth is a new hand-wound, exclusive Garrick movement, designed by British watchmaker Simon Michlmayr and the legendary movement specialist, Andreas Strehler. The movement parts are manufactured both in the UK and Switzerland. Thereafter, movement finishing, assembly and regulation takes place within Garrick’s own Norfolk workshop.

Garrick has been for some time making its own- free-sprung balance, delivering a daily variation of just +3 seconds per day. Now, with the advent of the Portsmouth, Garrick has signalled its progression to a higher level, offering an exclusive movement par excellence. 

As with all Garrick timepieces, most of the parts including the case, hands and dials are engineered in-house or sourced locally.

If you cannot wait until the opening of the Salon QP. You can always sign -up for the special collector’s event “the night before” on November 2nd.

This year’s Salon QP looks like it should be a great event for British watch brands.

 

Hamtum – Kickstarter launch

Tomorrow, Hamtun Watches are a small Southampton, British based company, launches on Kickstarter on with a goal of £20,000 to begin production.The Hamtun H1, which has been in development just over a year.

The White dial Diver
The White dial Diver

As you can see from the image above the watch promises to be very handsome.

The watch was designed in Southampton, UK and is built in China at a specialist factory.

The British brand  aim to stand out In a sea of “me too” minimalistic Kickstarter watch campaigns, the aim was to build something that was both truly affordable and high quality. Something people would enjoy wearing, not something to wear for a short period and then dispose of.

The H1 is a custom designed 41mm diameter titanium dive watch. With the exception of the movement, everything is custom made to our designs and specifications.

As well as using high-grade titanium, they have  a matte ceramic bezel, 20ATM water resistance, a double domed sapphire crystal (with anti-reflective coating inside and out), and an option of a custom designed titanium bracelet or silicone strap. It’s available in 3 styles. My personal preference going to the more traditional die watch look – white.

The  interesting part is, they are planning to launch on Kickstarter tomorrow, Tuesday 27 September at 5pm BST/midday Eastern/9am Pacific, early backers being offered the chance to buy the watch  at $199. You can see a preview of their campaign now at https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/rossdavis/2033132819?token=7a9e8bd5 which looks like a great deal if the watch lives up to its promised high quality.

A further element I like is the their use of the Seiko NH35A automatic movement rather than the more usual, for Kickstarter brands, Swiss quartz movement. Many people still do not appreciate how tough and reliable Seiko movements are making them ideal for tool type watches.

I am certainly looking forward to seeing these watches in the “metal”.

Robert Loomes – New Movement

Last week an interesting tweet from Robert Loomes mentioning they would be showing a new movement at the salon QP this year.

In the interests of investigative journalism I sent an e-mail to Robert himself to see if he was prepared to say more before the official unveiling. Somewhat to my surprise I got an very interesting reply back.

Robert clearly does not want to give away all his secrets but he is interested in the word getting out with a drip drip of information.

To wet our appetite he sent me over this picture of the  “Stamford ” movement without jewels or wheels.

The Stamford Movement
The Stamford Movement

The key desire is to have a watch movement with no imported parts, Robert says he has been working towards this for ten years. His company has gradually been making more and more parts to use in their watches based around a stock of 1950’s Smiths movements. They are particularly proud of their enamelled dials.

Robert has gone round the country and re-discovered many of these skills that were popularly believed to have been lost to the country.

The mainplate, cocks and bridge for the “Stamford” are all designed and machined and hand finished in our workshops. Most of the other components are manufactured by small specialist machine shops around the country, either turners ( Robert himself does not use a lathe at work except for a bit of prototyping). Wheels, pinions, winding gear, motionwork, anything which requires turning is easy to outsource once you have a design. Jewels are lasered out for us by another English specialist. 

He does not want to get into “Haute Horologies” with weeks of mirror hand-polishing and finishing. He is more interested in producing wristwatches. So the price should be a fraction of AHCI luxury watch producers, ever if it is still a very expensive beast compared with their previous offerings.

This interview with Robert by Hodinkee on there recent tour of British watchmakers gives some great insights into what he is trying to achieve, interestingly he does not mention the movement.

I am really looking forward to seeing this movement at the Salon QP.

Meerson – Unscripted

Alexandre Meerson
Alexandre Meerson

This week I was very flattered to receive an invitation from Alexandre Meerson to one of his “Un-Scripted” events. This was a lunch event Alexandre hosts himself for, in our case, about 10 people that have been in contact with the brand. During the event Alexandre explains how the brand came about and what it he wants to do with it. From his part he is looking for feedback.

I have covered the back story to Meerson in a previous post so here I would like to describe how my impressions have changed or not.

Alexandre first explained that he describes himself as a “watchmaker” but he has no formal training as such his mentors were his family. His ambition is to build a luxury “maison” based on excellence (not on perfection).

He went on to tell us that in his search for excellence it took him 4 1/2 years to build the supply chain and 2 1/2 years to persuade  Vaucher Manufacture Fleurier to supply his movements. As a further indication of the quality of Meerson watches the cases are made by the same company as Patek Philippe.

We then got to see and try some of the variants of Meerson’s range.

Altitude Officier
Altitude Officier

Currently the Altitude Officier in black, above, is my favourite of the range. Alexandre describes this as an “everyday” watch., tough enough to take knocks. I would be a little concerned about the water resistance at 30m but Alexandre is sure this is enough for everyday use.

The other range in the Meerson are the D-15 the “high-luxe field watch”, a sport-inspired traveller’s watch. The name of the watch comes from Alexandre’s son’s rugby position.

D-15 High-luxe field watch
D-15 High-luxe field watch

In the “flesh” this is a very nice watch, its curved case sitting snugly on the wrist. I am sure also the GMT function is very useful for anyone who regularly travels across time-zones. This is ,in many ways, the perfect watch for someone that travels , wants a luxury timepiece that is off most peoples radar which also offers the opportunity to personalise. One guest had a small diamond on the face of his watch in celebration of a wedding anniversary.

The last “tip” from Alexandre was a hint of what his “Maison” is looking at for the future – a women’s range. “Women’s watches should not just be men’s watches with diamonds on”

Thank you Alexandre and his time for a great session.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bremont – Royal Appointment ?

A little while ago I saw a tweet from Bremont which I have been meaning to mention here as I thought it was a nice story.

Prince Phillip 95th
Prince Phillip 95th

To mark his 95th birthday Bremont presented Prince Phillip with a watch. Given all the fuss about the Queen’s 90th this moment slipped under the radar.

I wonder if Bremont can now claim “by Royal Appointment” – I imagine not.

Christopher Ward C-9 Limited Edition

Christopher Ward appear to be really embracing the trend of making limited edition of watches by including some “historical material”.  We have seen pieces of Spitfire, pieces of Aston Martin and now pieces of an historical Jaguar.

C-9 D type
C-9 D type
An homage to the Jaguar D-Type that won three Le Mans between 1955 and 1957, a piece from one of the 18 production D-Types has been placed inside. And to mark its most memorable Le Mans victory (in 1955, with Mike Hawthorn driving), it comes in a limited edition of just 55 pieces.
The D-Type has a special place in the hearts of British motorsport fans due both to its design and incredible track record. Our specialist partners, TMB Art Metal, have sourced pieces of the piston from one of the original racing models, which we’ve placed in the watch.

  • Embedded with a piece of piston from one of 18 factory models, sourced by TMB Art Metal.
  • The metal has been laser-cut into the shape of the alloy on the D-Type’s wheel and wheel-spinner, and can be viewed through the exhibition back.

The watch is powered by ETA’s Valgranges A07.161 self-winding movement that’s been specifically built for larger watch cases.

The watch is available for pre-order for mid-October at a cost of £2995

As is also the norm Christopher Ward have put together another cool video

Fears Watch Company

My first contact with Nicholas Bowman-Scargill was through Twitter, he thanked me for mentioning their here in July. Fears Watches is based in Rotherhithe only a sort cycle away from Greenwich, the home of Grinidgetime. Nicholas suggested we meet after the “summer” and he would tell me all about the brand and show me the watches.

Holidays over and we finally met. I must say meeting people that are following their passion is always interesting, Nicholas certainly didn’t disappoint.

Nicholas told me his life story so far, about his interest in watches and trains. After graduating in Economics  he went to work in PR for a few years, this he realised was not what he wanted to do for the rest of his life, his passion led him to convince Rolex to take him on as an apprentice and he worked with them in their after sales department in London for five years.

He still had an “itch” to scratch and was discussing with his family about what sort of business he could set-up for himself, his Mother suggested “why don’t you revive the family watch company – Fears?”

Nicholas knew there were watchmakers in the family but he didn’t realise there was a brand.

Past glory a 1940's Fears
Past glory a 1940’s Fears

Nicholas is great-great-great grandfather founded the Fears Watch Company 170 years ago in Bristol. After passing through the business the business wound down in the 1950’s.

Now after two years Nicholas is ready to re-launch the company at this years Salon QP. He does as much possible within the company himself, he explained how for example he had been on a course to master Adobe rather than employ an outside agency to produce his promotional brochure.

I have seen and tried the prototypes. The watches are very nicely proportioned with a, on trend ( I keep hoping), 38mm case. Nicholas wants to keep the details quiet until the official launch. Nicholas says he wants to remain true to the company’s products and market a well designed watch with a Swiss movement at an affordable price.

I wish him the success his efforts and enthusiasm merit. I still have my doubts as to how much space there is in this segment of Anglo-Swiss watches.