I first came across Zero West on Instagram. Posts promising watches with links to many things I like to read about, fast boats, Spitfires and café racers. The final detail that tweaked my interest was the fact this company was based in an old boat house in Emsworth, Hampshire – an important place in the youth of yours truly. We exchanged some messages, Zero West promising to tell me more about their project when they were ready.
After several more intriguing Instagram postings the moment arrived; Andrew, one of the founders, was going to be in London and suggested we meet so he could tell me about their watches.
The story starts in much the way many of these do, two friends , Andrew and Graham, a common interest, unlike many of these conversations they actually started a company. Their advantage being Graham is an engineer and Andrew a designer, the ideal combination of complimentary skills.
At our meeting I was surprised when Andrew brought out not just not just one watch but several. I say several as Andrew has asked me not to discuss the whole collection, I think though I can safely they cover many of the themes outlined above.
So I will stick to the watch in hand, the first to market the Longitude, which if everything goes to plan goes on sale next week.
My first impression strapping the watch to my wrist was gosh, this is a big watch, at 44mm it equals the Schofield I reviewed earlier this year. For some reason though the case design makes it feel bigger. Then bringing the watch to my ear – almost silence, you barely hear a tick or the sound of the automatic movement through the hefty case.
The polished case is of an interesting construction in that the lugs are mounted by two screws to each side. It is certainly not a watch that goes unobserved. This first of all put me off a little as I was wondering when I might fell comfortable wearing something so large and visible. After a few days through I started to feel much more comfortable finding that the watch works really well with my predominantly blue office wardrobe, thanks to the heavy blue leather strap. The straps are also made by Zero West, after approaching several suppliers Graham decided he could make them himself, and a beautiful job he does to. My only criticism being a lightly large keeper.
The gentlemen from Zero West explained that the design of this watch was inspired by the H4 of the British horological innovator John Harrison.
Clearly it is not a straight replica. The black and white dial uses the same roman numerals and blue enameled hands. The floral decoration around the original dial have instead been replicated on the case back.
In addition the dial features the date 22/10/1884 under the number six, this being the date of the International Meridian Conference in Washington. during which Greenwich Meridian was recognised as the international standard for longitude. Then above the twelve you will find the longitude and latitude for the Greenwich Meridian.
These are the key details of the watch:
• Screw lock & sprung deep straight knurled & polished 316L stainless steel with triple seal technology
• Custom double curved domed sapphire glass with blue AR coating on the internal surface
• SELLITA SW200-1 25.60mm 11.50 calibre 28,800vph
• 26 jewels
• Incabloc shock system
• Self-winding ball bearing rotor
• Date function
• Power reserve ~38 hours
• Water resistance: 10ATM (100m) 100% tested
• White enamel over brass substrate with over printed numerals
• Blue enamel
• Polished steel diamond cut sweep hand
• 22/22mm Custom handmade Horween water resistant Ink blue Chromexcel leather strap
• Single wide sliding keeper loop
• Natural burnished edges
• Waxed hemp hand stitching
• Polished 316L stainless steel ARD buckle with engraved ZW logo
• 44mm diameter
• 14.1mm thick
• 22mm lug width
• 49.6mm lug to lug pin spacing
Limited to 20 pieces
So in conclusion this is a very bold individual first watch that is very different to most of the watches on the market today. As mentioned earlier there are several more similarly distinctive models ready to follow this. Best of luck to Zero West.