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Dennison: a new British brand launched at SalonQP

Salon QP article


We’re proud to be able to say that SalonQP has a long and successful history of launching brands – Schofield, Pinion, Meerson, and Emmanual Bouchet to name but a few. This year was no different, with Czapek & Cie perhaps the most high-profile brand to make its debut.

But there was also Dennison. It may not be a name that springs readily to mind, even for really battle-hardened watch enthusiasts, although it does have some interesting connections. Set up in 1871 by the founder of Waltham Watch Company (who had recently moved to England, settling in Birmingham), Dennison made a name for itself as a casemaker. In 1914 it produced water-resistant pocket watches for Shackleton’s Antarctic expedition, and the following year it began supplying the British military.

Working for Rolex, Omega and Longines, Dennison spent the 1920s and 30s growing its output to 250,000 cases per year. It worked with Rolex on pre-Oyster cases, and in the 1940s cased Omega’s earliest automatics. Jaeger-LeCoultre, IWC and Zenith were also clients. In 1953, Sir Edmund Hillary wore a Dennison-cased Smiths watch to the summit of Mount Everest.

Production came to a halt in 1965, however, and the Dennison name fell dormant until 2010, when Toby Sutton of Watches of Knightsbridge registered the trademark and began working on a revival. This year at SalonQP, we saw the result of his efforts: two new Dennison watches, presented for the very first time.

Inspired by the expedition pieces of the 1950s, the Revival watches (as they are being called), have their cases produced in the UK using some machinery from the original Dennison factory. Inside are ETA-2824 calibres – solid, no-fuss, dependable movements that suit the watches very well.

The dials are where the most effort seems to have been expended; we have black and white versions with a very on-trend vintage-style “honeycomb” lattice dial pattern, and oversized triangular hour markers and faceted dagger hands that put one in mind of a Tudor Oyster Prince or an Omega Ranchero. There are 6-9-12 Arabic applied numerals, a date at 3 o’clock and luminova on the hands.

The case is 38mm wide (again, bang on trend as well as relatively faithful to the scale of the 1950s originals – they were 32mm but Sutton rightly admits that that’s just not a workable size for a men’s watch in 2015) with a screw-down crown. The watches also use plexiglass for that retro feel, and are offered on some rather nice leather straps.

The watches will retail at £2400.