In Focus: Zero West - Oracle Time
Watches

In Focus: Zero West

S1 – Spitfire, £2,200

Aerospace-grade materials, computer-controlled multi-axis machines, cutting-edge tolerances, if this wasn’t a watch magazine, you’d probably assume I was talking about one of two things: a racing team or Elon Musk’s mission to Mars. Instead, all three are vital to the humble craft of watchmaking – at least as far as British brand Zero West is concerned.

Situated in Emsworth, near Portsmouth on the idyllic south coast of England, Zero West isn’t exactly situated in the hub of global watchmaking. Seaside getaways, perhaps. But then Zero West isn’t exactly what you’d call a traditional watch brand either. The brainchild of black ops engineer Graham Collins and graphic designer Andrew Brabyn, Zero West is proving to be a dark horse in the British watch world.

LS-1 Land Speed, £3,300

Its use of performance-grade materials is fitting, given the inspirations behind the timepieces. At one end of the (tachymeter) scale you have the Automotive collection and its overt racing roots, whether that’s the simpler, racer-slanted TT-58 or the superlative Land Speed, which imitates the sporting stopwatches of yore. Both boast plenty of automotive details, including a healthy dose of knurling.

At the oxygen-deficient end of the scale you instead have the aeronautical likes of the S4, which not only could slot nicely into the dashboard of a restored Spitfire but also, in the limited-edition version, contains parts of one. They’re not the only retro pilot’s watches out there – or even on home shores – but they’re definitely among the most striking, right down to the contrasting, oversized crowns inspired by joystick gun platform fire buttons.

TT- 58, £2,200

A good part of that is an element that runs throughout the Zero West collection: the lugs. More specifically, the way the case joins them. The two looks like they’ve simply been bolted together rather than being built as one complete piece. The result is a distinct, industrial look that carries through the brand’s entire collection, even the marine chronometer-inspired Longitude 1 and 2.

If there’s one other thing that defines Zero West though, it’s its innate Britishness. There’s a good reason the brand’s at home on the south coast; in every watch they release, they seem to be paying homage to some aspect of British engineering heritage, whether that’s motoring with a chequered flag and a touch of British racing green or our mastery of the oceans via latitude and longitude.

Cr-1 Cafe Racer, £3,300

Of course, while they are built here in the UK (doing a great deal of good for the local industry besides) the movements are not. Instead, Zero West has ensured that the calibres inside its watches are equal to the clean-cut mechanics of the cases by opting for the horological classic that is the ETA 2824 automatic movement. That means a 38-hour power reserve and the kind of reliability any engineering obsessive could demand.

Between the patriotic designs, solid watchmaking and industrial good looks, there’s plenty to love about Zero West. Sure, they aren’t for everyone – these are statement pieces, after all – but they have all the ingredients of a future British classic.

Find out more at Zero West.

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.

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