British Watchmaking In Rude Health

British Watchmaking In Rude Health

Sell out British Watchmakers’ Day event showcases the very best of British watchmaking

The Alliance of British Watch and Clock Makers, British Watchmakers’ Day was billed as the first major live event dedicated to British watch and clock brands and took place at Lindley Hall in Westminster on Saturday 9th March.

The event was dedicated to British brands operating in the horological industry. There were 44 brands exhibiting including, Accurist, Adley, Alkin, Arken, Backes & Strauss, Beaucroft, Brooklands, Bōken, BVOR, Christopher Ward, Clemence, Duckworth Prestex, Edward Christopher, Elliot Brown, Escudo, Farer, Fears, Fink, Freese, Geckota, Great British Watch Company, Harold Pinchbeck, Helicon, IOTA, Isotope, MHD, Mr.Jones, Marloe, Monro Adventure, Nite, Nomadic, Olivier Meylan, Omologato, Pinion, Pompeak, Roger W. Smith, Schofield, Sidereus, Sinclair Harding, Studio Underdog, Thomas James, Vertex, William Wood and Zero West.

“One of the main ideas behind the event is for exhibiting makers to create a special edition watch that is only available for purchase on the day. As Chairman, I wanted to lead by example but, as we make so few watches each year, it was a real challenge! It’s a huge day, a milestone really, for our resurgent watchmaking sector and I will be very proud to see what our trade members are achieving and to have 44 of us together in one space at last. We have a new energy and some brilliant designers emerging. It’s an exciting time to be a British watchmaker.”

Roger W. Smith, Chairman, Alliance of Alliance of British Watch and Clock Makers

Perhaps the highlight of the event were the Special Edition watches created by exhibitors, exclusively available to attendees at British Watchmakers’ Day. The stand-out examples were a unique Series 1 from leading British watchmaker and Chairman of the Alliance of British Watch and Clock makers, Roger W. Smith (above – which had a reserve price of £297,500), The Great British Watch Company auctioned a ‘Dirty Dozen’ watch (which sold for £5,200), Christopher Ward C1 Bel Canto 9324 limited to 10 pieces (costing £4,995), StudioUnderd0g 02SERIES field watch limited to 25 pieces (costing £800), William Wood Fire Exit limited to 300 pieces (costing £1,495) and Fears Brunswick 1924 Edition limited to 10 pieces (costing £3,950) and Mr Jones Indefatigable Sphinx Piece Uniques limited to 4 unique pieces (costing £2,500).

Great British Watch Company ‘Dirty Dozen’ watch
Christopher Ward C1 Bel Canto 9324
Studio Underd0g’s 02SERIES field watch
William Wood Fire Exit
Fears Brunswick 1924 Edition
Mr Jones Indefatigable Sphinx Piece Uniques

A proportion of the sales from these limited pieces were donated back to the Alliance of Alliance of British Watch and Clock Makers.

“What made the day unique was that each exhibitor presented special edition watches, exclusively for the day, which really showed off how diverse a skillset we have right here in the UK. We created four different colourways of our ‘The Indefatigable Sphinx’ watch, which is the most technically challenging watch we’ve ever made. The dial features more layers of colour than we’ve ever printed and represents a substantial amount of work by our talented team of printmakers – it’s a real showpiece for the craft and skill that we have developed in-house.”

Crispin Jones, Founder, Mr Jones Watches

The event was free for the Club members of the Alliance of British Watch and Clock Makers and was sold out. To say that the event was eagerly anticipated was an understatement, but prior to the day, there were some who didn’t believe there was a demand for British made watches – how wrong they were!

Arriving on-time at the venue on a bright and sunny Saturday morning, I was struck by the crowd lining up outside the venue. There was a palpable buzz of anticipation. I overheard conversations in the queue from those waiting patiently to enter excitement of seeing the exclusive watches ‘in the flesh’ and being ‘up close and personal’ with the great and the good of British Watchmaking, including Roger W. Smith, Mike France (Christopher Ward), Nicholas Bowman-Scargill (Fears) and many other founders. In the end we waited for around 30-minutes to enter the hall.

If there was a buzz outside, then this was multiplied many times on entering the exhibition hall. There were hundreds of people taking in the myriad of watches on display. The layout was good and gave enough space to navigate each of the 44 brands.

“This event allows Brooklands Watch Company to showcase our Brand, its values, heritage, designs and product quality along with other British Brands.  In the near future we plan to showcase our innovative thinking with new complications coming from studying our incredible heritage. The British were at the cutting edge of new watch complications when watches were hand made in the late 18th century and we haven’t lost that innovative streak.”

Simon Jeffs, Founder, Brooklands Watch Company

Although every stand was busy, the longest queues were for Christopher Ward and StudioUnderd0g. There was also great interest in the exhibition of Roger W. Smith timepieces. Roger spent time with visitors explaining the workings of the movement that power his stunning watches.

Roger spent time with visitors explaining the workings of the movement that power his stunning watches.

It wasn’t just about watches. The clock makers were well represented by Sinclair Harding and Thomas James. It was wonderful to see the exquisite clocks presented and to see the incredible craftsmanship involved in creating something so beautiful.

“I have to confess I was apprehensive about the inaugural British watchmakers day and was not looking forward to setting up 6 skeleton clocks, 8 hours show, dismantling and driving home to Yorkshire in one day. But everything went like, well, clockwork. The quality and quantity of visitors was superb, the support from the Lindley Hall team first class and a big congratulations to the Alliance for pulling it off.”

Bob Bray, Managing Director, Sinclair Harding

It was a brilliant and enjoyable day, with some extraordinary timepieces and the ‘Best of British’ on show. There was an overwhelming sense of pride. Everyone I spoke to about the event was extremely positive, with the majority saying they’d like to see this becoming an annual coming together of the British Watch and Clock making industry.

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