Britannia once ruled the waves with its watch industry and, thanks to the likes of Bremont, Roger W. Smith and Garrick, some of that long-lost glory is returning to English shores, says Alex Doak
Long before ‘Swiss Made’ became the universally recognised badge of horological quality, London rather than Geneva was your first stop for a decent watch. Hans Wilsdorf even established his little-known company there in 1905 – renaming it ‘Rolex’ in 1908, after listening to the noise his watch made when he wound it one day, sitting on a London bus.
In fact, English watchmaking was what originally put the ‘Great’ in front of ‘Britain’ – what once coloured every schoolboy’s atlas predominantly pink, and what is now inspiring a fresh upsurge of new and revived watch brands. From revived Bristol brand Fears in the West Country, to boutique innovator Garrick in East Anglia, to nostalgically outdoorsy Scho eld on the South Coast, the smell of sea salt percolates all of their creations – even those of landlocked Bremont and its super- precise ‘chronometers’.