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Duckworth Prestex Centenary Watch Review

Duckworth Prestex Centenary

It’s always a bit strange seeing a new brand lean on heritage from a century or more ago. It can feel like a bit of a stretch, especially when it’s from a relatively small watchmaker. So it is with Duckworth Prestex. The British watch brand draws from owner Neil Duckworth’s family history of watches and there’s definitely some archival heft there, but given that the Rivington GMT is most definitely a solid, modern watch (despite an ostensibly 1930s cushion case) and that their first new release was barely three years ago, the new Centenary feels like an odd duck. Sorry.

It’s dubbed the Centenary to celebrate Duckworth Prestex’s 100th anniversary; 1,200 months since they launched their first own-branded pocket watch. But as you’ll quite obviously note, it’s not a pocket watch. Instead, the Centenary references a 1935 timepiece, so the name’s perhaps a touch misleading. Although it makes sense; there’s just not a market for pocket watches outside of the occasional collector-centric Patek, which makes me slightly sad.

Duckworth Prestex Centenary
Duckworth Prestex Centenary

Before we get into the watch properly, it’s worth noting that there are some pretty striking parallels here with what Fears managed with their Archival watches. British brands known for cushion cases producing an Art Deco, rectangular dress watch. I’m categorically not saying that there’s any copying here; I’ve seen the original examples of both heritage pieces. They do both exist and they are both lovely. The modern versions remain individually faithful to those originals and yet different enough from one another (in the rarefied realm of Tank-adjacent pieces at least) that they feel very different.

That difference is largely how they’ve approached the subject matter. Fears opted for their highest-end, non- precious metal watch to date, creating a unique layered dial and using genuine vintage movements. It was a premium, celebratory timepiece. The Duckworth Prestex Centenary on the other hand has taken the fundamental building blocks of the 1930s piece and made them accessible.

Duckworth Prestex Centenary

And accessible it is. It’s a handsome piece, and definitely evokes that typical, Roaring 20s Art Deco style that was popular well into the 1930s, but for £495 on leather. Compare that to the Archival’s over £3,000 price and it’s obvious that they’re playing in very different ballparks. That’s achieved mostly through a quartz movement, but at least it’s the ever- reliable Ronda 1069 SM. If you’re going for quartz (other than a Grand Seiko of FP Journe) you probably want it to have a Ronda.

Due to its diminutive size – it’s just 24mm by 40mm and 7.5mm thick – it feels light, but the bevelling on the case edges is pretty solid and seriously ups the construction quality. It adds just the right amount of flair to the case, which I genuinely love and sits very comfortably on the wrist. I can’t be quite as glowing about the dial.

Duckworth Prestex Centenary
Duckworth Prestex Centenary

It’s not bad, it’s just not for me. Separately I quite like the elements. Duckworth Prestex’s own, heritage Boulton numerals are curvaceous to a glorious degree and applied, but I find them a bit too much for such a small space. The same goes with the subdial, which drops the usual railway track elegance for slanted 10-second numerals. They’re quirky and pack a lot of personality in, but they’re just not to my taste. This is one of those instances where being faithful to the original wasn’t necessarily the best option. That said, I can imagine a lot of potential collectors liking it. It’s like the Tissot Banana structured into a Cartier Tank, and I can see the appeal – mainly in the other two versions.

There are three versions of the Duckworth Prestex Centenary (six if you count different strap options as separate watches. I do not), each in a different colour. And indeed, looking at the other versions, I can state that a big part of my issue is actually the colour here. Cream and gold begs a certain pared-back refinement to really pull off and I don’t feel like the Centenary manages that. And yet the other versions available – the salmon with gorgeous blue numerals and the blue with silver – stick the landing. The salmon especially is fantastic, just by upping the colour and personality.

Duckworth Prestex Centenary
Duckworth Prestex Centenary

If you look at what Duckworth Prestex has done with their other releases, leaning on bright orange in both the Rivington GMT and flagship Verimatic (which, full disclosure, I do own), they’ve done incredibly well at bringing colour to the monochromatic 1930s. Their watches are fun, accessible and I love the flair with which they’ve approached their heritage. I just don’t feel like they’ve managed quite the same with the Centenary.

That all said, it’s hard to complain about a watch that scratches that Cartier Tank itch (whose own quartz option will set you back almost as much as the Fears Archival) for under £500. And while I have my gripes, seeing yet another British brand raid their archives and come out with something genuinely interesting is all for the good.

Price and Specs:

Model: Duckworth Prestex Centenary
Ref: D803-06-B
Case: 24mm width x 40mm height x 7.5mm thickness, stainless steel
Dial: Cream
Water resistance: 50m (5 bar)
Movement: Swiss made Ronda Quartz 1069 SM
Functions: Hours, minutes, seconds
Strap: Brown leather
Price: £495

More details at Duckworth Prestex.

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About the author

Sam Kessler

Legend has it that Sam’s first word was ‘escapement’ and, while he might have started that legend himself, he’s been in the watch world long enough that it makes little difference. As the editor of Oracle Time, he’s our leading man for all things horological – even if he does love yellow dials to a worrying degree. Owns a Pogue; doesn’t own an Oyster Perpetual. Yet.