Schofield watches have a very distinctive design, which you may or may not like but definitely distinctive. Here is a design that has been shown on one of their recent mailings. As always beautifully photographed, these watches take the Schofield down to the essentials, hence the name Bare Bones.
Schofield plan to make a limited run of these watches, some with rose gold and some with rhodium dials. All will be serialised and marked on the case backs with the Rare Things graphic. Schofield branding only appears on the buckles. Next year they will expand on the model with a production variant.
Here are the details should your appetite be wetted:
Case – Media blasted stainless steel
Dimensions – 44mm diameter base, 42mm bezel, 15.1mm high
Colour – Silver
Crown – Screw in, polished stainless steel, engraved
Dial – Rhodium, stepped, no appliqués, no markings
This event has now the highlight of my Grinidgetime calendar. It is an opportunity for me to meet in person many of the people I have been writing about over the year. Given the number of people that also want to meet these people I limit these meetings to a quick hello, just to put a face to Grinidgetime. Last year I managed to shake the hand of the great Roger Smith. This year there was at least his “Great Britain” watch.
Again, I have to mention I was disappointed that neither Meerson, Pinion or Schofield were exhibiting this year. I was also disappointed that Farer did not have a stand, the brand caught me a little by surprise and I really like their new range of automatics.
Our first port of call was The Deep Time diver’s watch exhibition where I really enjoyed seeing an early Panerai, a Blancpain Fifty Fathoms and an Eterna Kontiki helps which remind us there are alternatives to Rolex Submariners. The first British stop was the Bremont stand, which disappointingly look identical to last year’s. So I moved swiftly onto the first floor where to see the Christopher Ward stand, this year featuring Morgan three wheeler to highlight the relationship between the two companies. There was also their star watchmaker Johannes Jahnke working away at a bench.
Then up to the second floor where I almost literally bumped into Nicholas B-W of Fears Watches looking very pleased with himself. The show was going very well. Chatting with Nicholas he explained a little more to me about the philosophy of the brand. Apparently, he had been advised that the brands history would permit them to be much more upmarket. Nicholas explained that he thought this would be a betrayal of what the brand had been, good value watches with Swiss movements. He went on to explain that one key design feature of the Radcliff watch was legibility in the dark, interestingly having the date window is key in being able to orientate the watch.
My editorial assistant ( my just teenage son) was very impressed, He was even more impressed when Nicholas let him try on “watch No. 1”
The next stop was to say hello Toby Sutton to see how Dennison was going a year from their launch at last year’s Salon. He was wearing the material Denco53 with the French paratrooper strap which is a really great combination. This is the only picture I have managed to find, you must admit this strap looks made for this watch.
A photo posted by DENNISON (@dennisonwatchcaseco) on
Next was Robert Loomes; I wanted to congratulate him on his talk the day before and of course to have a closer look at the new Stamford. I also had the pleasure of meeting his wife Robina, apparently the strategic mind of the couple. Robert was his usual enthusiastic self and was very pleased with the reception the watch had received at the show. It looks like he will be busy for sometime to come.
Our last “British” stop was to see the new “Portsmouth” at the Garrick stand. Here I had hoped to get some pictures of the watch, unfortunately exhibition cases and and an iPhone prevented this. So here is a picture from the Garrick website.
David Brailsford of Garrick was a another happy man. He told me sales at the show were going very well. They had sold out of there Regulator model and the Portsmouth was generating a great deal of interest despite the £17,995 price. So the Norfolk watchmaker is going to busy for sometime as well. Finally, I managed to resolve a doubt I had been harboring for a while, David confirmed to me that the watch was originally going to be called the Plymouth. Being Hampshire born I am much happier with this name.
So to sum up, another very enjoyable show this year. The best news being the great the great reception that the British brands exhibiting are receiving from everyone. Well done.
Salon QP is now over for another year. This year, as I have already written, I was a little disappointed that neither Pinion or Schofield were exhibiting. However, now on my fourth year I am getting used to the format of the show and so I am starting to feeling comfortable in the Saatchi Gallery.
One learning from last year was that around the show there are also some great presentations from interesting people in the industry. This year the talk that caught my eye was Robert Loomes discussing about how he got to be building his movements in Britain; held on Friday lunchtime. Robert is a super enthusiast who apparently would happily tell everyone about is journey for as long as they are prepared to listen. Salon QP disappointingly limited his time.
Robert’s talk was not limited to his new movement, but his watchmaking history that lead up to this point. The key to his story would appear to be Roberts, “well, that should be possible” attitude mixed with a healthy dose of patriotism. To cut a long story short the whole enterprise started with a bet. Now this all seems like a recipe for the usual heroic “could have been, if only ” situation.
The heroine in this story, as in so many, would appear to be Robert’s wife Robina, who in 2011 bought the business and left Robert to get on and do the technical stuff. Robina recognised one of the most important current marketing trends “localisation”, customers, a much better description than consumers, are paying more attention to the origin of the products they buy. This has become very evident in the world of food and drink but is now moving into more durable items such as clothing and of more interest to us, watches. Watches that are now, from a practical point of view redundant, have become more personal statements leading more people wanting to know more about the story and origins of the product the are buying to make that statement. For many people that includes wanting to support their national industry or even to go as far as wanting to know the people responsible for making their watch. These are the people Robert and Robina sell there watches to.
In making their new “Stamford” watch Robert and his team have built on they experience of making the Robin watch using modified NOS Smiths movements. The Stamford being a development of that movement in a case and dial similar to to the Robin. Initially only 24 examples will be made 12 in gold and 12 white gold and maybe one for Robert himself in “stainless gold”. Unfortunately, for those of us with other demands on our salary, the price will be £28,500. I did enquire if there was a chance these prices might drop if production increases and bring economies of scale. The message from was fairly unambiguous from Robert, unlikely. Given the small number of all the components they are are ordering from small local engineering companies it is difficult to lower cost significantly.
Having said all of this I am confident that Robert and Robina will find 24 buyers that believe in their idea of localisation. Congratulations.
This has been a momentous period in the life of Grinidgetime; my first watch to review that is not mine, all thanks to Matthew Fletcher of Meerson Watches who organised a lone of an Altitude Officier in Black.
My first concern was to make sure should anything untoward happen my insurance would cover me, £9800 would make a substantial whole in my current finances – All OK.
Trying to put this value at the back of my mind I now had to try to think objectively about this watch. The first impression is “black” I realise that despite telling Matthew that this is my favourite of the Meerson range, I am currently not a great fan of black straps. My only explanation for this I can think of is that I am not wearing such formal clothing these days. If this was my watch, I would specify a brown strap, which I think would also be more in line with the idea of a field watch. On “field watches” I am also a big fan of “nato-style” straps, thanks to the option to rinse the strap once they get a bit sweaty, this is not an option with the the unusual lugs on the Altitude Officier. Having said all this the black case looks really great, this is an ADLC finish on titanium so super resistant.
Titanium explains the second sensation – lightness. On the wrist the sensation is almost like that of a Swatch, you just do not notice it at all. This is probably helped by the way the watch sit on the wrist.
After these initial thoughts I then started to look more closely at the detail of this watches build and it is here the quality and attention to detail shows. If you look closely at the AM-4808-A movement you notice how careful the finish is when you compare it to more mass-market movements. The titanium case is lovely and smooth to touch. The raised “Breguet-style” numbers, each an individual work of art.
Then on this particular watch the really cool touch…
Yes, this watch is a prototype. I had one very impressed teenage son.
I wore the watch most of the time for almost two weeks, I only left it off in occasions in which I thought I might expose it to undue risk such as decorating at home or riding bicycle quickly over south London’s “pave” the later having proved pretty negative for several of my friends watches.
The impact of this watch on my office colleagues – zero. No comment at all, but not many watches do provoke much comment. This does suggest this is a great “sleeper watch” passing unobserved by the general public, which for many of us is a very positive attribute, leaving its many particular features to be explained to any passing aficionados.
So accepting the premise that I would prefer a brown strap my overall conclusions about this watch is very positive. It is subtly great looking. It is really well made. It is exclusive and, probably what is the most important element for me, is I have met its creator, Alexandre Meerson, on a couple of occasions and I enjoy the way he thinks. This gives the watch meaning for me.
I have left out a lengthy technical explanations in this review. This is because Alexandre has gone to great lengths to ensure the specification is top notch, and I am confident that a Meerson buyer takes this for granted and buys into the authentic and Alexandre’s story.
However for those of you that are curious you can find a full technical description here : http://www.meerson.com/watches/altitude-officier-smallseconds-titanium-whitesilvered-101-oejw-101-OEJW.html