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William Wood Dunkirk Watch Review

William Wood Dunkirk

William Wood are a brand who time after prove the adage that by applying restrictions to yourself, you invite creativity and innovation. On the surface level, their chosen niche of fire fighting themed watches appears limiting, however with each new creation they show that it’s a rich vein of inspiration.

From the Valiant to the Fearless and the Fire Extinguisher, they constantly find new outlets for expression. Their latest watch, the William Wood Dunkirk, is a tribute to a historic fire fighting vessel, the Massey Shaw Fire Boat, which rescued 600 souls during the dire Operation Dynamo at Dunkirk in 1940, which we have in the Oracle Time HQ for review.

William Wood Dunkirk

If you’re not familiar with Operation Dynamo, it was the military rescue operation that saw hundreds of ships and small boats perform daring evacuations from the beaches of Dunkirk as the allied British, French and Belgian forces were encircled by the Nazi war machine. The Massey Shaw Fire Boat, which was in the area tackling oil refinery fires, was one of the first non-military vessels to join the operation.

William Wood Dunkirk

There is a depiction of the scene on the beaches on the caseback of the watch featuring the lines of soldiers, boats in the bay and strafing aircraft overhead. The foreground is decorated with poppies, the flower of remembrance connected with World War Two. One of the ships in the bay stands out because it’s not a black silhouette, instead being made from metal. As you may be able to guess, it’s the Massey Shaw and the material it’s made from is actually a piece of the original engine of the boat.

William Wood Dunkirk

William Wood Dunkirk

It’s a remarkable story and the caseback does it admirable justice, combining the danger and threat faced by the soldiers with their stoic strength and also highlighting the Massey Shaw. However, a watch is more than just a caseback and turning it over shows an equally fascinating dial. It’s unlike any other watch I’ve seen, replacing the traditional numerals with words in a retro font that says things like “Stop”, “Stand By”, and “Pump Water”. It’s inspired by the boat’s telegraph system.

William Wood Dunkirk

A telegraph system is a method of communication whereby the pilot of the ship can request changes of speed from the engineers and on the Massey Shaw it was also used to operate the fire fighting pumps. On the William Wood Dunkirk watch, it turns the watch more into an artistic expression of the heritage importance of those heroic boats. It’s almost more a piece of memorabilia than a watch. Although the fact there are 12 sections and a minute scale means it’s still easy to tell the time with the central skeletonised hands.

William Wood Dunkirk

That brings us to the case, which is made from vintage bronze with a worn, aged appearance. It measures 40mm in diameter with a thickness of 13mm, although it seems to sit higher than that on the wrist due to the low edges of the peripheral red pipe decoration and lugs. The pipes are designed to emulate those of the engine and pumps aboard the Massey Shaw. It’s actually very comfortable to wear due to the low positioning of the lugs and the rubber base of the upcycled fire gear strap.

William Wood Dunkirk

Housed inside the case, which definitely feels more like a nautical device than a watch, is the Sellita SW220 top grade with a 38-hour power reserve and +/- 4 seconds per day accuracy. A movement a lot of collectors will already be familiar with and one that does ask the question why is the watch £3,995? Well, there’s a lot of extra value that comes with the watch as it’s a limited edition of 600 pieces (in honour of the 600 people the boat saved).

William Wood Dunkirk

Additionally, not only does it contain part of the original boat, but also in 2025 a plaque with the names of everyone who buys one will be added to the Massey Shaw itself. Funds from sales of the watch will also go to support the continued running of the boat – William Wood having already made a £10,000 donation towards repairs and retrofitting for the craft. The watch is available for pre-order now with delivery due in November ahead of Remembrance and Veteran’s Day.

Price and Specs:

Model: William Wood Dunkirk
Case: 42mm diameter x 13mm thickness, CuSn8 bronze
Dial: Black
Water resistance: 50m (5 bar)
Movement: Sellita calibre SW220, automatic, 26 jewels
Frequency: 28,800 vph (4 Hz)
Power reserve: 38h
Functions: Hours, minutes, seconds
Strap: Beige rubber with textile inlay and titanium pin buckle
Price: £3,995

More details at William Wood.

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About the author

Michael Sonsino

As Digital Editor for Oracle Time, Michael needs an eye for detail, which makes it a good thing that his twin joys in life are miniatures and watches. He's a lifelong fan of fine timepieces, especially those of a more historic nature - if it has a twist of Art Deco, all the better. Recent purchase: Seiko Prospex 1959 Alpinist Modern Re-Interpretation. Grail watch: Vacheron Constantin Historiques American 1921.