BRITAIN MAY NO LONGER DOMINATE THE GLOBAL WATCHMAKING INDUSTRY LIKE IT DID IN THE 19TH CENTURY, BUT THESE ENTREPRENEURS AND INNOVATORS ARE LEADING THE CHARGE FOR A RENNAISANCE THAT MAY ONE DAY PUT THE COUNTRY BACK ON THE HOROLOGICAL MAP.
WATCHES OF THE YEAR WINNER
C65 Super Compressor
Christopher Ward’s co-founder and chief executive Mike France described the launch of its C65 Super Compressor as the most significant watch collection of the brand’s 15 year history and backed it with a television advertising campaign in the United States and Britain. It is based on a case sealing technique invented at the height of the scuba diving boom in the mid-1950s that sees an O-gasket ring expand as water pressure rises during a diver’s descent, making the case even more secure. The technique and technology makes CW’s Super Compressor watches water resistant to 600ft.
Like many super compressors, the watch has two crowns. One is used to set the time and the other sets a rotating inner bezel. Measuring 41mm across, the steel C65 Super Compressor displays its Sellita SW200 automatic movement, the sapphire case back also affording a view of the 300-micron thick compression spring which gives the case its name.
BRITISH WATCHES OF THE YEAR
Farer Bradfield Pilot
We could have chosen any of the three watches introduced by Farer in its 2020 GMT Bezel collection this year, but our eye was drawn instead to the stylish pilot collection, which not only has the style for which the British watch business has become appreciated, but also the use of a faraday cage in the architecture of the watch that protects the SW200-1 automatic movement from magnetic fields.
Our favourite of the pilots is the Bradfield, which has a tiered white dial with a light blue minute ring inside the circle of Arabic hours. Broadsword hands ensure that the watch has the ease of reading that pilots require of their watch.
Bremont and the aerospace giant Rolls-Royce have joined forces to develop a smartphone app for pilots that will provide pre-flight checklists, timing functions and many other aids to efficiency and safety in the cockpit of modern aircraft. Of more interest to the rest of us is the accompanying launch of Bremont’s ionBird watch to mark the creation of a zero-emission, all-electric, Rolls-Royce aircraft called the Spirit of Innovation that is expected to comfortably beat the current world record of 213mph and should reach speeds of over 300mph early next year. Although there is no Rolls-Royce branding on the watch, the ionBird chronometer will be worn by test pilots during development and record-breaking flights.
It comes in a 43mm aviation grade titanium case housing a BE-93-2AV chronometer-rated GMT movement that is cocooned in Bremont’s proprietary anti-shock technology. A dark brown dial is framed by a black bi-directional 24 hour bezel and the watch has a distinctive crown and crown guard at 4 o’clock that curves into the bottom right lug.
WOLF British Racing Green Collection
$290 – $4,850
By the summer of this year, WOLF was already reporting a significant year on year uptick in sales in the UK and United States thanks to a drop-shipping model that was perfect for retailers as they switched their focus to ecommerce while stores were closed.
The addition of a British Racing Green family caused another bump in performance for the business. CEO Simon Wolf, who divides his time between hubs in California and England, says the strategy for a major new range is not to shock potential customers, but to help them picture the WOLF accessories in their own homes.
Tribus TRI-08 Premier League Champions Special Edition
A brand new British watch brand was born this year, and it was certainly with a bang not a wimper. Tribus burst out of the blocks with a multi-million pound 5-year partnership with Premier League Champions Liverpool FC and the unveiling of an official Premier League Champions Special Edition watch, certain to catch the attention of the fans across the world.
The watch comes in the football club’s famous red and has its logo subtly embossed into a sunburst dial at 6 o’clock. We actually prefer the golden dialed version pictured here. The TRI-08 Premier League Champions Special Edition is a three-hander housing a Sellita SW200 automatic movement in a 41mm brushed and polished steel case that can be bought in gold or steel. Prices range from £995 on a leather strap to £1,295 for steel on steel.