As someone born and brought up in Hampshire this is a phase I could not have ever imagined writing, but there are now at least two Hampshire based watch companies, Hamtun, from Southampton and Zero West actually from my birthplace, Emsworth.
The first of theses two companies to come to my notice was Hamtun a brand that started as a kickstarter project in 2015. I was honestly curious about the brand name which immediatly made me suspect a connection to the city of Southampton, 20 miles from the village I grew up in. For us Southampton was always the other city in Hampshire, but I still felt a connection. On investigating the brand I went on to discover that Hamtun was the name of the original settlement that grew into Southampton.
Hamtun was founded by two friends lead by co-founder and designer Ross Davis, the aim was to create the watches that they wanted to own but, as family men with normal jobs, could not afford. By cutting out all of the extra layers of bureaucracy and by working to sensible margins, they set out to make high quality watches.
Their first watch was the H1, a fairly classic looking dive watch in titanium. The 41 mm case houses the tried and trusted Seiko NH35a automatic movement.The H1 sold out very quickly. I still have not managed to get hold of one to review despite several attempts at trying to meet Ross at Waterloo station.
The H1 is no longer available, it has evolved into the Kraken H2. It has been joined by the Nanok which is Hamtun’s answer to a famous Swiss brand’s Day-Date at a significantly lower price point.
Then having established themselves Hamtun have recently launched a “value” brand Phantom, offering a regular diver style watch with a Seiko NH35a movement for a remarkable £262.80. ( an amusingly precise price point). For more news I recommend visiting the Hamtun website.
This brings me on to the revelation that after finding a watch company from my birth county one turns up in the town of my birth, the small coastal town of Emsworth founded by two friends in 2016.
Zero West work out of their converted boathouse, over looking the mill pond.The site itself providing inspiration for their watches. The boathouse was formerly owned by George Gray, a panelling expert from London who worked on Malcolm Campbell legendary Bluebird land-speed vehicles and the record breaking Railton Mobil Special, as well as creating the bodywork for the first Vanwall racing cars back in the 1950s. George’s talents also won him a contract to build Spitfire fuselages after the bombing of the factory in Southampton during World War Two, which he did at one of the many shadow factories set up along the south coast.
As well as the Longtitude model I reviewed (4/11/2018) The company currently offers a range of what can only be described as “Boy’s Own” watches principly drawing inspiration from 20th century British automotive and aviation history.
The majority of the watches are based on the unique Zero West 44mm case design housing either an ETA 2824 or Valjoux 7750 automatic movement.
Above is an example of the aircraft themed watches the Spitfire S2. This watch uses metal recovered from an actual Spitfire pulled out of Poole Harbour.
The automotive styled models include two chronographs, the more traditionally styled CR-1 above and the “bulls head” style Landspeed, below. Both watches using Valjoux 7750 automatic movements.
Zero West’s watches range from £2200 to £3300 for the chronographs. Details of all the watches can be found at the Zerowest website.
These are the only two current Hampshire watch brands I have come across, I would love to discover more. In the meantime, despite being at different price points, as well as being from the same county these two companies are run by incredibly enthusiastic owners. Best of luck to both.
I am now starting to think of other British counties that are home to multiple watch brands. The first that springs to mind is Oxfordshire with Bremont and Pinion. I will get digging.