There certainly are worse ways to spend a Wednesday evening, right?
Wrapping up our little mini-series of photo galleries from our recent London visit (you can check out the others here and here) today we have a detailed look at some of the most creative and truly independent watchmakers around today.
Many of these brands do not attend the Baselworld’s of the industry, making it difficult to get some real hands-on time with the watches and two a real treat when the likes of the Watchmakers Club hosted an event.
The Watchmakers Club is all based around a passion for horology. Both panel and attendees of events are passionate about independent watchmakers and sharing this with everyone. Naturally, this is something me and Ben are actively involved in so it was inevitable for us to pop down to London to meet with friends, both old and new...
A quick tour of the London sights
I’ve always said to friends and family, that you really cannot beat London in the summer. When the sun comes out, it’s warm and you only have a camera to carry its pretty unbeatable. On our hit list of places to visit for the day was Burlington Arcade, Covent Garden and the Watchmakers Club event, also in Covent Garden.
As the sun was out we decided to walk which incidentally meant we passed by Buckingham Palace, Trafalgar Square and Piccadilly Circus. I’m sure most of you reading can relate to this, but wrist spotting in public is so automatic to me that before I realise what I’m doing, I’ve spotted Submariners, Datejusts a handful of Omegas.
In the case of London (a hot spot for some insane watches on the wrist) it didn’t take long for Ben and me to pick up on a Richard Mille, vintage Datejust, GMT Master and of course a Speedmaster. Obviously, as we got closer to Burlington Arcade the rate at which we spotted watches increased and of course when we arrived at the Watchmakers Club event it was off the scale.
The Watchmakers Club Event
The event itself was held in a modern, clean, big-windowed space practically opposite the Covent Garden underground station. Being spread over two floors with over 20 brands each with their own table plus minimum glass stands to avoid people not wanting to touch, it was fair to say Ben and I know we were going to be there a while...
This was a great start to the evening. Armin Strom started back in 1967 when the man himself studied watchmaking and quickly became known for his art of hand skeletonized watches. This was very much clear right off the bat when we arrived at the stand. Skeleton dials, large case sizes, offset dials and strong use of colour is the name of the game here.
A personal favourite feature of the watches for me was the hand finishing on the movement seen through the display case back. This is something you normally expect to find on dials, so to see it on the underside of a piece was pretty special.
Next, we moved upstairs and visited the brand closed to the front door, Lonville. This is another example of a brand that has a history dating back to 1873. Over the years they were famous for pocket watches of course and during the 30s to 50s watches were introduced. Today, after a revival of the name the models look to combine classic timeless design aspects with touches of motorsports inspiration.
On paper, this might sound like an odd combination but in person, it manages to pull it off. The 40mm Virage ‘Kind of Blue’ really caught my eye. A simple time only watch, with a large sunburst dial, sharp indices, white gold case, micro-rotor movement and large heat-blued hands.
This was a really interesting brand to get some hands-on time with. Andreas Strehler combines traditional watchmaking techniques and construction with genuine unique designs something that is hard to achieve in 2019. One of the most recognisable aspects of Andreas Strehler timepieces is their cases. They almost have a wide rectangular style to them which really enables them to stand out from the rest.
Cryus were next on the list to see and they really came through with some designs like no other. The watches here have a very industrial tool/sports watch look to them and, the relationship between the case and dial designs really reflect this.
There were two memorable watches here. The first was the chronograph in the collection which was powered by a modified Valjoux 7750 with just two crowns. The start pusher for the chronograph function sat in the crown with the reset in the left hand one.
Next, the Klepcys Alarm which when the alarm was active it would create a very unique sound. This was down to the chiming gong not hitting against plastic.
Czapek & Cie
Next up we had the pleasure of spending time with our friends from Czapek. Thankfully we were able to get some more hands-on time with the latest releases including one of my favourite from the whole of Baselworld, Czapek Quai Des Bergues in Blue Enamel.
If you want to hear more about this watch from us hang tight as I’m looking to write more about this watch in the near future. There are so many good things to talk about.
D.Dornblüth & Sohn
This was a brand I didn’t know too much about before visiting the event but had heard great things from Ben. The story goes that Dieter Dornblüth had designed a watch some 40 years prior to his son Dirk presenting him with a watch he designed himself recently. From there in 2002 the company began creating their own watches and in 2012 released their first in house movement.
The watches we saw on the evening featured details such as larger sub dial designs, clean heat-blued hands and a typically German aesthetic. They very much have a pocket watch feel to them.
Veit from the brand also showed us some of the dials they are able to make including a great brown option and a mother of pearl.
Garrick is made up from an amalgamation of British watchmakers and members of the industry with, of course, a passion for watchmaking. At the event, they had quite a few watches on display with their instantly recognisable hands, a fully engraved case, heavy gillouché dials and heat blueing throughout.
Sticking with the British theme for a moment...
The final brand we spent some time with was Fears. Their history dates back to 1846 and Bristol, England. Fast forward to 2016 and the brand was re-established by the 6th generation of the Fear family. Today the brand uses two case designs named Redcliff and Brunswick with the latter being a cushion case design.
Hats off to Fears for their display on the evening as they told the history of the company, showed 3D printed cases and historical references, things that work well to build a story for people.
Spotted on the wrist
There were plenty of nice watches on the wrist of people at the evening as well, including this Manufacture Royale Androgyne Pure Glacier Tourbillon…
To find out more about the Watchmakers Club and any of the brands mentioned, be sure to hit the links throughout the article.
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