Our watch industry might be small compared to Switzerland’s or Germany’s but it offers a surprising amount of variety, from manufacture haute horology to funky, off-kilter creativity. So without any further preamble, here are the best British watches right now, some you may know, others you most definitely will not. And yes, we do have a thing for blue.
Fears Brunswick Blue, £3,350
When the original white-dialled Brunswick came out we instantly fell in love with it: the cushion case, vintage sizing and understated elegance all aped the 1950s watches of the original Fears factory of yesteryear. The latest version adds a dark blue dial to the formula, a more modern twist on the watch that works phenomenally well with the signature blue leather strap. A future British classic.
Available at Fears Watches’ website.
Garrick S2 Central Seconds, £13,800
Garrick takes its ‘made in Britain’ approach seriously and the vast majority of its incredible S2 is made at its own Norwich workshops – including the stunning engine-turned dial. This is the first Garrick watch with central rather than small seconds, but it still bears all its hallmarks, including the open heart and enough in-house components and processes that each S2 takes five days of solid work to create. In that light, you get a lot of watch for the money.
Available at Garrick’s website.
CWC 1970s Spec. RAF Pilots Chronograph, £2,250
Plenty of watchmakers have side businesses making military-spec squadron watches, but for Cabot Watch Company that’s its bread-and-butter, and it has a longstanding relationship with the British Armed Forces. This limited-edition pilots’ watch is at the top end of its range, an imitation of the watches issued to RAF pilots in the 70s and 80s. With its asymmetrical case and Valjoux movement, it looks and feels like the real thing.
Available at CWC’s website.
Vertex MP45S Automatic, £3,480
A slightly sportier, contemporary take on Vertex’s vintage-inspired militaristic monopusher, the newer version of the MP45 brings in contrast subdials for chronograph minutes and running seconds. It also adds a few flashes of red both on the chronograph hands and the signature iron sights at 12 o’clock. Otherwise it’s the same watch as the original version, with a solid Sellita SW510 Automatic movement and a cool, asymmetrical 40mm brushed steel case.
Available at Vertex’s website.
anOrdain New Model, £1,200
Grand feu enamel is an intense process, needing plenty of time, care and skill to create. It’s also the raison d’etre for Scottish watch brand anOrdain. Its revamped Model 1 makes that enamel the focal point of the piece, available in everything from bright teal to post-box red. That said, I love the plain white version, which shows off the enamel’s innate depth with a few blue flashes for flavour.
Available at Anordian’s website.
Mr Jones All This Will Pass, £145
Fun, playful and painfully quirky, Mr Jones is pure British whimsy on the wrist. Its series of quartz timepieces are a pure delight, and its latest is even helping a good cause. With its pop art splashes of colour, All This Will Pass is a message to all of us suffering in one way or another from the Covid 19 outbreak. What’s more, ten per cent of the sale price will be going to the World Health Organisation’s Covid-19 Solidarity Response Fund. It’s a glimmer of light in an otherwise bleak moment in time.
Available at Mr Jones’ website.
Farer Oxley Silver Limited Edition, £1,195
Playful British watch brand Farer uses blue as variously and confidently as Picasso, with far less disturbing results. The Oxley Silver is a cerulean take on Farer’s original GMT watch, with different aqua hues across the numerals and hands for a stunning pop-art aesthetic. The silver in the name comes from the dial, but let’s be honest, it’s all about the blue. It has fewer colours than some Farer models but is far more nuanced for it and, powered by a Sellita SW330-1 Premium movement, is a lot of watch for the money.
Available at Farer’s website.
Christopher Ward C60 Elite GMT 1000, £1,495
The granddaddy of affordable British watches is at it again, continuing its ever-popular Trident collection with a new GMT – and it’s about damn time, too. The C60 Elite GMT 1000 has all the rugged reliability of the latest generation of Trident models, with a 42mm titanium case water resistant to a phenomenal 1,000m and a COSC certified Sellita movement, joined by a 24-hour GMT hand, just in case you fancy swimming across time zones.
Available at Christopher Ward’s website.
Bremont ALT-C Griffon, £4,995
Leaning on Bremont’s aviation heritage, the Alt1-C Griffon is a special edition of the brand’s vintage-inspired pilots’ watch, referencing the Spitfire flown by founders Nick and Giles’ father, equipped with a Griffon engine. Using their signature Trip Tick case construction in hardened steel and a classical aviation look, the watch is one of the purest Bremont pieces to date.
Available at Bremont’s website.