Garrick Hoxton sm302 – watch review by ESCAPEMENT

Seeing red

Angus Davies provides an in-depth review of the Garrick Hoxton sm302, available with a broad choice of dial options. However, it was the red dial option which provoked a reaction in this self-confessed grumpy 47 year-old.

Garrick Hoxton sm302

Middle-age sneaks up on the unsuspecting. I have become a grumpy 47 year-old, experiencing a sense of repeated irritation. Indeed, some aspects of modern life quite simply infuriate me. The world has seemingly gone mad.

If I venture into a supermarket and wish to pay for my goods, I am suddenly expected to morph into a checkout assistant and scan my own shopping. Moreover, as an impatient queue assembles behind me, I have to try and pack my shopping. This in itself may not sound much of an issue, but the shopping bags provided are so thin they have merged into one homogenous fusion of polythene and, try as I might, I can’t separate them.

Then, all of a sudden, my till displays a message enquiring of my age. Now I have to wait for human intervention, whilst the ever lengthening queue stares at me with a sense of disdain. I am clearly over 18 years of age and a bottle of Chianti does not constitute a matter of life and death, but automation dictates I now need to be inconvenienced further. The queue is getting longer and I could readily seek refuge in a case of Chianti such is the magnitude of my annoyance.

Is it just me, or has the world gone mad?

Take aeroplanes, I can think of no other area in life where it is considered acceptable to shoehorn adults into seats which are unduly small. The airlines health and safety gurus have decided a reasonable precaution is to warn passengers of the potential risk of deep vein thrombosis. Exercises are described within the inflight magazine, accompanied with small pictures my myopically impaired eyes can barely decipher. However, should I wish to stand and stretch, mitigating the risk of clots forming in my arteries, my actions will be met with ‘the look’ from an angry air hostess who has a trolley to wheel down the aisle, laden with ‘tat’ no self-respecting sane person would ever really consider purchasing.

Indeed, the very notion of customer service doesn’t exist at 30,000 feet. Should you show the merest of annoyance at the brusque service and rancid sandwich presented, you will be met with a strong rebuke. We now live in an age where disappointed customers are labelled potential air rage perpetrators. Don’t even dare complain unless you wish to be tasered.

Is it just me, or has the world gone mad?

The introduction of speed cameras seems well intentioned. However, if you ever look at drivers on the M6 in rush hour, they are not looking ahead watching the road, they are transfixed on the needles of their speedometers, expending huge amounts of energy to ensure their average speed over a given distance does not stray a couple of miles per hour over the limit.

With variable speed limits becoming de rigueur on our motorways, drivers panic as the prevailing maximum speed displayed on a sign is reduced by 10 miles per hour. All of a sudden the driver ahead performs a near emergency stop, anxiously fearing a further three points and resulting in numerous cars behind, swerving in his wake.

Is it just me, or has the world gone mad? You get the idea!

The fact is, many aspects of modern life make me angry. Wherever my eyes look there are elements of living in the modern world which irritate me, causing me to see red. However, whilst I saw red when first encountering a vibrantly hued Garrick Hoxton sm302, very different emotions came to the fore. This is a timepiece sporting a red dial which confers a striking appearance and justifies further discussion.

Garrick Hoxton sm302

In 2014, Garrick launched its inaugural watch, the Shaftesbury sm301. This timepiece represented a departure from the norm. While I am accustomed to seeing watches in the sub £4000 segment being mass produced, by virtue of Garrick’s size, the sm301 is made on a one-man, one-watch basis, typical of manufacturing high-end wristwatches.

Garrick Shaftesbury sm301

Garrick Shaftesbury sm301

It is this low-volume production method which has allowed Garrick to incorporate its own in-house free-sprung balance. The inclusion of a free-sprung balance proves incredibly labour intensive, necessitating much effort on the part of the watchmaker to fettle the balance wheel to run to the specified +3 seconds per day.

Recently, Garrick launched its second, simpler timepiece, the Hoxton sm302. While this watch does not include a free-sprung balance, which is reflected in the price, this model loses none of the hand craftsmanship and aesthetic allure of its older, costlier sibling, the Shaftesbury sm301.

Garrick Hoxton sm302

Recently, I had the good fortune to share a few calm weeks in the company of the new Hoxton sm302.

The dial

The first aspect of this particular Hoxton sm302 to arrest my attention was the dial colour. It is a vivid shade of red with a wonderful metallic lustre to its surface. The dial is machined with a series of concentric circles populating the periphery of the dial area.

Garrick Hoxton sm302

I suspect for some readers, the ebullient colour scheme may prove a tad too conspicuous and they may prefer more subdued shades. There is no need to worry, Garrick offer an array of dial options suiting a broad range of would-be buyers. I must confess, the red dial option worked for me and proved incredibly versatile, matching an array of shirts and jumpers and provoking comment wherever I chose to wear the watch.

Garrick Hoxton sm302

Unlike the sm301, where the dial includes a small seconds display, the sm302 presents the hours and minutes alone. This succinct presentation of the prevailing hour represents a charming contradistinction to those dials proffered by some brands which seem at best rather ‘busy’ and in some cases, virtually impossible to read. No such affliction effects the sm302 which tastefully articulates time with seemly poise and absolute decorum.

Garrick Hoxton sm302

The hour and minute hands are produced in-house. Close examination reveals their hand crafted nature with small surface undulations on the recesses to the centre of each hand. They lack the homogeneity of mass produced stamped items typically used on mainstream brands. The resultant subtle nuances reveal a comely individuality which I appreciate, reaffirming this is a handmade watch.

A stainless steel chapter ring sits atop the red dial surface and is retained with three thermally blued screws. I noted the screws were not recessed and enquired of David Brailsford, Managing Director of Garrick, what was the reason for this decision. His answer was clear and unequivocal, ‘We wanted the thermally blued screws to sit above the chapter ring, to engage with light more readily and for the screws to yield beautiful bluish purple shades in ambient light. By recessing the screws we would have lost much of this interplay with light and sacrificed the delightful depths we have achieved using the screws.’ Listening to Brailsford, everything suddenly made sense. The brands attention to detail is incredibly impressive, especially in a company which is still relatively small and young.

The case

I appreciated the polished case of the sm301 with its effervescent mien. Simon Michlmayr and his team are masters of polishing and successfully infused the sm301 with an almost mirror-like gleam. However, with the sm302, the caseband is grained, adopting a gentler, calmer persona. Whilst I like the shiny flanks of the sm301, I favour the muted disposition of the younger, sm302.

Garrick Hoxton sm302

The 42mm case sits comfortably on the wrist and the crown does not impose its presence on the arm with unsightly red marks. This timepiece accords an agreeable fit which should appeal to a wide audience, avoiding the extremes of unduly small or excessively large, dimensions.

Garrick Hoxton sm302

An exhibition caseback reveals the inner psyche of the timepiece, with the finely decorated movement freely disclosed via one of the largest ‘widescreen’ sapphire crystal panes you are likely to encounter. Indeed, Garrick has utilised virtually all of the caseback to reveal as much of the movement as possible.

Garrick Hoxton sm302

The movement

Garrick used a hand-wound, ‘new old stock’ Unitas 6498.1 base movement on the sm301 and the sm302 repeats this formula.

Where the movement of the sm302 differs from the sm301 is with the absence of a free-sprung balance. However, the sm302 uses a screwed balance which will appeal to many purists, myself included.

Garrick Hoxton sm302

Garrick has also elected to eschew the Geneva stripes found on the bridges of the sm301 and employ a frosted finish which I personally find fresh and eye-catching. The appearance of the bridges on the sm302 appearmodern when contrasted with the sm301, but confer a degree of originality which is very endearing.

Traditional watchmaking crafts are still much in evidence, despite the modernity of the timepiece. The thermally blued screws are not mass produced in a large oven, but heated on a bed of brass filings to achieve the beautiful bluish purple hues.

Garrick Hoxton sm302 and Garrick Shaftesbury sm301

Closing remarks

The red-faced Garrick Hoxton sm302 makes me smile. It disarms me with its unique appearance and charming details. Some elements exhibit modernity, which, unusually for me, lighten my mood. I cannot help being drawn towards many ingredients of this mouth watering horological proposition and feeling a sense that all is well with the world.

It is refreshing to see British craftsmanship is still alive and well. Indeed, as a patriot and watch lover I can report, that for once, seeing red actually makes me happy. The future of Garrick looks assured if it continues to produce watches that display such breathtaking invention and skill.

Garrick Hoxton sm302

Technical Specification

  • Model: Garrick Hoxton sm302
  • Case: stainless steel; diameter 42.00mm; height 12.50mm; water resistant to 10 bar (100 metres); sapphire crystal to front and caseback.
  • Functions: Hours; minutes.
  • Movement: Vintage Unitas 6498.1 base, hand-wound movement; frequency 18,000 vph (2.5Hz), power reserve 42 hours
  • Strap: Black leather strap presented with a stainless steel pin buckle
  • Price: £2495 (RRP as at 3.6.2015)


All images bearing the ESCAPEMENT logo by © Euan Davies 2015—watch-review-by-escapement.html