I received an e-mail that I thought letting you all know about. Marloe will announce their fourth watch this Thursday (October 26th) at 3pm (BST).
This watch will be limited to 500 pieces. For the first time from Marloe the watch will use a Swiss movement. The brand from Oxfordshire has used Chinese movements in their first two watches, the Cherwell and Lomond. They followed these using a Japanese Miyota movement in the Derwent.
Having the watch bug, like many similar diseases, can be expensive. The solution is more often than not is to resort to elaborate man maths justifying the most recent acquisition. There is however an alternative; buy a used watch. This solution can offer some considerable savings especially if you broaden your search away from more recent watches and especially from the obvious brands.
Luckily for Grinidgetime, British brands offer considerable opportunities as many have dropped by the wayside with the passing of time. One such brand is J.W, Benson of Regents Street, London. I first really noticed these watches whilst searching for Smiths on e-Bay. One particular model caught my eye. The Tropical with a Smiths movement and a Dennison case. The historical British watchmaking brands in one watch – bingo. Unfortunately the prices being asked are starting to look expensive.
J W Benson originated in 1847, founded by James William Benson and Samuel Suckley Benson. They were regarded as one of Victorian London’s most prestigious retail jewellers and they also manufactured their own watch movements. Benson had prestigious premises at 43 Cornhill and, when the original partnership was dissolved and James William Benson took over the running of the business, they also opened a branch at 33 Ludgate Hill.
A further branch was added at glamorous 25 Old Bond Street and JW Benson proudly boasted an elite client base made up of both British and European royalty and a selection of well heeled industrialists and business figures including the King of Siam, the King of Portugal, the King of Denmark, the Emperor of Japan, the Tsar of Russia and the King of Greece. JW Benson also supplied watches to Queen Victoria and the Prince of Wales. Throughout its history, J.W. Benson Ltd was also official watchmaker to the Admiralty & the War Department.
During W.W.I. the factory was bombed, destroying thousands of timepieces and from this point on the company no longer manufactured its own watches, but still continued as a retailer. The timepieces bearing the company name used high quality Swiss movements supplied by manufacturers such as, Vertex (Revue), Cyma/Tavannes, Longines and by the English maker, S. Smith & Sons.
J. W. Benson Ltd continued until 1973 at which time the name was sold to the Royal jewellers, Garrards.
Now back to my recent e-Bay find a 1960’s J.W Benson with a 17 manual wind Swiss movement.
When the watch arrived in the post I was very pleasantly surprised. The condition was in much better condition than I expected. The 34mm case, in what I assume is gold plate is in great condition apart from a few scratches.
The movement looks in great condition, though I suspect is in need of a clean as it is running slow at the moment.
JW Benson is an interesting brand with some really nice watches in the back catalogue. Definitely worth hunting out – happy hunting
I have had my Bronze Pinion Axis Pure for just over two months now so I thought it was about time I publish my initial impressions.
This watch, more than any other I have had, offers a very involving experience. This involvement starts every day with the morning ritual of winding the manual Unitas 6498 movement, which has a very satisfying dependable feel. I then usually put the watch to my ear just to hear the slow tock……tock. The day can now commence.
Every since my first meeting with Piers Berry, the founder of Pinion Watches, I have been fascinated by the idea of bronze cased watches. Piers was an early advocate of the material and would mention how if you google “bronze watch” Pinion came out top of the list. Piers has now decided the material has become a bit mainstream and is concentrating more on other materials and finishes. This may be, as he has told me,that customers attracted to the brand by the bronze models more often than not ended up buying steel watches. I am sure this is because when you way up the pros and cons of each material steel possibly results more versatile and less of a risk.
By not taking the “risk” however I think you miss the opportunity to experience the changes, the development of patina. Each watch becomes more individual, more personal over time in the same way that selvedge denim does. As well as the case “maturing” then there is the lovely English leather strap which is slowly becoming creased and more flexible adding its character to the mix.
Leaving aside this development of character, the watch it self is very satisfying. I have been championing smaller, 38/40mm, case sizes so I was initially concerned that at 42mm I might find the Pure too big. But then I reasoned my Speedmaster is the same size and that sometimes even looks small. The Pure is not a “dress” watch but it does wear very easily. I have now got used to the size, and as it gets darker it is less “in your face”.
One design element of Pinion bronze watches that I initially questioned was the steel crown. I thought a bronze crown would have been more appropriate. Piers has obviously been questioned on this point several times so just had a slightly cross look when I mentioned it. Now I must agree with the choice of material as it broadens the choice of straps you can choose from, there are not many many available with bronze fittings, especially good quality Nato’s.
As my watch is one of the last of the bronze Pures, Piers had it made with the green dial which previously had featured only the the more recent gun metal cased watches. This adds further to its distinctiveness.
Another feature I really like is the case back. I have never been a fan of display backs, they always have seemed out of place on the more robust style of watch I prefer.
So, my conclusion for now is I am very happy with the watch. It has a distinctive non-generic look that however is not weird and has a character that is developing much in them same way as a pair of leather boots or raw denim jeans.
I will give a further update in a couple of months.
As you might remember the next watch we were expecting from British watch brand Marloe was the Lomond Chronograph. Therefore I was surprised to news of a further model the hand wound Derwent.
The Marloe website tells us this is born out of their love for traditional British watches of the 50’s and 60’s, with hi-dome acrylic crystals and small cases. They have added a few contemporary touches like a subtle domed dial leading outwards to an angled chapter ring and simple pitched profile hands for maximum readability, but the classic aesthetic remains. Most watches of this era had solid case-backs, but the Derwent Classic offers a small porthole displaying the balance wheel.
From the images I have seen they have produced a much nicer looking watch than the Cherwell with a pleasant non-generic design.
Interestingly, as you will see from the specifications below, they have also switched from the Chinese Sea-Gull to a Japanese Miyota
You might have noticed on instagram that I now have my own Pinion, An Axis Pure with a dark green dial, The green dial previously on the Gunmetal Green version of this watch.
My first impression when compared to my previous English watch, the Smiths Deluxe, was big and heavy. But clearly that is compared to a 1950’s 35mm steel watch. You might remember that I have been suggesting for some time that cases over 40mm were getting a little large for my taste. Maybe I should re-consider this as my other regular wear is a Speedmaster Pro which is also 42mm.
With it’s 42mm case and wide (22 mm) strap the Pure is actually re-assuringly solid. The manual wound Unitas movement reinforces that sense of dependability. The last feature making this the perfect weekend/holiday (and maybe Friday) watch for me is the 100m water resistance rating.
Finally, there is the bronze case. Pinion now feel this material is becoming too mainstream. Coming from the generation that appreciated how materials such as denim and leather become more personal with age I am very happy to have a watch that will do the same.
I will keep you updated on how the patina develops.
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.
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.
The folks at Christopher Ward have been busy over the summer, which is pretty useful for those of us looking fro something to write about.
This week say the announcement of this watch the C8-Power Reserve,
And what a handsome watch it is. When I first press shots I was very tempted.
Combining classic aviation design with the Johannes Jahnke movement , this is a timepiece that exceeds at both visual and mechanical levels. Powered by a hand-wound version of the Calibre SH21, the chronometer movement comes with a redesigned bridge, and can be seen through the watch’s exhibition caseback.
As you will guess from the title of this model the key feature of this watch is the movement’s 5 day power reserve.
The price is interesting to at £ 1550. This issue for me is the case size, 44mm I would have liked to see this at 38/39mm. I am still not convinced all brands have the right “presence” to be so large.
As usual Christopher Ward have produced a great video