British Watchmaking

BRIEF HISTORY OF BRITISH WATCHMAKING

Watchmaking is a British trade. Every major escapement design, and around three-quarters of the remaining innovations came from these shores.

It can be said to have started with Thomas Tompion (1639-1713), often referred to as the father of English clockmaking. A student of Tompion, George Graham(1673-1751), made further innovations before passing the baton to one of his own students, Thomas Mudge (1715-1794), who invented the lever escapement; which is still the most widely used escapement in today’s watches.

John Harrison (1693-1776) solved the problem of finding your longitude at sea which was considered one of the greatest feats of the age. Enabling British ships to travel accurately and more safely around the globe was one of the major contributing factors to the growth of the British Empire. Following in their footsteps came other great watchmakers such as John Arnold and Thomas Earnshaw.

british-watch-innovations

In 1800 Britain made around half of the world’s watches; around 200,000 pieces a year. By 1900 the quantity produced in Britain had declined by half, despite the worldwide market for watches having risen into the millions.

The problem lay in the hand made nature of English watches and the heavy reliance on skilled workers who were reluctant to adapt to the changes in technology. The Swiss and the Americans were much quicker and more successful in adopting mass production techniques. Mass manufactured watches were soon able to compete directly with hand-made ones, and eventually surpass them in performance despite only costing a fraction of the price. The industry in Britain collapsed.

There was a brief resurgence in post war Britain, however the remaining businesses were not robust enough to survive the biggest crisis in watchmaking – the emergence of the quartz watch.

Recently there has been much talk of a revitalization of the British Watchmaking industry, and while it is true that the situation is more hopeful than 10 years previously, there still remains a lack of a brand mass producing any 100% British made watches for the market. In fact there are only the 10-12 watches coming from Roger W Smiths workshop a year that can claim to have been manufactured completely in the British Isles. For the most part the British brands that currently exist are small-scale and often overpriced when compared to more established Swiss brands.

Recently Robert Loomes has started to create watches made with older English Smiths movements (which were 100% made in Britain during the 1950s-1970s), and has demonstrated that there are facilities and talent still remaining in Britain to make all the parts of a watch here.

Interestingly, until now the European Union has invested heavily in German watch manufacturers, and only very little in British ones – the burgeoning watch industry around Glashutte in East Germany is testament to this. There can be some optimism that following the UKs exit from the EU, the UK government would be free to invest and encourage development within the small existing watch manufacturing industry without fear of breaking any of the EU rules regarding sovereign governments providing “unfair advantage” to local trades.

All we need now is the will and, more importantly, the investment to make British watchmaking for the mass market a reality. Only then can we see “Made in Great Britain” reclaim its rightful crown as the mark of excellence in horology.

 

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LIST OF CURRENT BRITISH WATCHMAKING COMPANIES

 

Roger Smithhttp://www.rwsmithwatches.comrw smith

Since the passing of George Daniels in 2011, Roger Smith has taken over the helm as Britain’s foremost watchmaker. In his small workshop on the Isle of Man he, and his team of around 6 people, produce hand-made pieces in the traditional English style.

  • Price point: c. £35,000-£250,000 (as each piece is bespoke and sold privately these prices may not be correct)
  • Quantity produced: 10-12 per year
  • Percentage British: 100%
  • Location: Isle of Mann

 

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robert loomes

Robert Loomes Stamford Ltd.http://www.robertloomes.com

Robert is an experienced repairer and restorer of clocks and watches. More recently he has started making his own watches and is very passionate about having them be 100% British using locally sourced materials. Most of the work on each watch is undertaken in their workshop in Stamford, including dial and case manufacture, with any outside help coming from local craftsmen. At least 35 British workers are involved in the production of each watch.

  • Price point: £3,850-£17,800
  • Quantity produced: 400 per year, produced in one off batches of 50-100 pieces
  • Percentage British: 100%
  • UK Staff: 12
  • Location: Lincolnshire
  • Main Article: Robert Loomes Stamford Ltd.

 

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Schofield

Schofieldhttp://schofieldwatchcompany.com

Schofield produce a selection of bespoke watches alongside a range of other thoughtfully designed items. They aim to create as much of the watch as possible within the UK, or else use high quality imports.

  • Price point: £4,260-£9,000
  • Quantity produced: less than 500 per year
  • Percentage British: 60%
  • UK Staff: 4
  • Location: East Sussex

 

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bremont

Bremonthttp://www.bremont.com

The two brothers, Nick and Giles English, are the founders of this company named after a French farmer they befriended. After releasing their first watch in 2007, the company has grown to be the largest watch company in the UK. Sadly despite claims to the contrary, Bremont watches are almost entirely made abroad

  • Price point: £2,695-£30,950
  • Quantity produced: 8,000 per year
  • Percentage British: 5%. Their watches are all made abroad, but assembled in UK
  • UK Staff: 30
  • Location: Oxfordshire

 

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meridian watches

Meridianhttp://www.michlmayr.com/meridian-watch.html

Meridian offers a range of large (46mm) watches, that can be customised with different dials & hands, cases and straps. They are fitted with a modified Swiss sourced ETA 6497/6498 movement.

  • Price point: £4,500-£5,000
  • Quantity produced:  aiming for 100-500 per year
  • Percentage British: 60%.
  • UK Staff: 9
  • Location: Norfolk

 

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garrick

Garrickhttp://www.garrick.co.uk/

Garrick are a new watch venture coming from the same workshop as Meridian. The watches are currently available in 3 styles, with further ranges and their own in-house movement to follow.

  • Price point: £2,500-£50,000
  • Quantity produced:  80 per year
  • Percentage British: 70%
  • UK Staff: 9
  • Location: Norfolk

 

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CWC (Cabot Watch Company) http://www.armywatch.co.uk80034

CWC are suppliers of watches to the British Armed Forces. Because of this they all have military straps, robust cases and easy to read dials. A lot of their quartz watches also have a battery hatch to allow soldiers to change the batteries themselves. Their entire range is Swiss made and assembled with ETA movements. Very reasonably priced, with watches generally costing just £100 over the trade price of the movement

  • Price point: £99-£1,500
  • Quantity produced:  unknown
  • Percentage British: 10%

 

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windmills

J & T Windmillshttp://www.jandtwindmills.com

This small company makes a decent range of old-fashioned style wrist and pocket watches. The company was founded in 2006, using the names of John and Thomas Windmills who were active horologists in the early 1700s.

  • Price point: £625-£795
  • Quantity produced per year: unknown. Probably less than 500
  • Percentage British: 60%. All movements are Swiss made
  • Location: London

 

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hoptroff

Hoptroff Londonhttp://www.hoptroff.com

Since 2010 Hoptroff have been making extremely accurate electronic watches with innovative designs. Their quartz crystal range can achieve an error of less than 1 second a year, while their atomic watches (using Caesium 133) are accurate to less than 1 second in 1000 years

  • Price point: £549 for the Sports model to £32,400 for their Atomic Watch
  • Location: London

 

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prw-home

Peter Roberts Watcheshttp://www.peterrobertswatches.com

Peter is most recently well-known for his past connection with Bremont, acting as their Technical Director. He is now producing his own watch, an unique chronograph with 5 central hands.

  • Price point: £18,000 for the model in Steel, £28,000 in Rose Gold
  • Quantity produced: 40 made in Steel, plus 4 in Rose Gold
  • Percentage British: 60%. Swiss made movement heavily modified by Peter

 

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pinion-image1

PINIONhttps://pinionwatches.com

Formed in 2013, PINION makes a small range of automatic and hand-wound watches, plus specialises in the use of rare new-old-stock vintage movements in its limited edition pieces.

  • Price point: £2,000 – £5,000
  • Quantity produced: Less than 500 a year, in batches of 100
  • Percentage British: 30%
  • UK Staff: 3
  • Location: Oxfordshire

 

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Classic Chronographs

Classic Chronographs Ltdhttp://www.classicchronographs.co.uk/

This brand offers one model, the Offshore Chronograph, which aims to be a robust watch that offers great value for money.

  • Price point: £1,900
  • Quantity produced: 24 per year
  • Percentage British: 20%
  • UK Staff: 2
  • Location: London

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Dennison

Dennison Watch Case Co Ltd. – https://dennisonwatches.com

Dennison are the revival of one of Britains most famous watch case makers . If you own an old pocket watch then chances are the case was made by Dennison. They currently offer a small range of watches each with a British made case.

  • Price point: £2,400 to £2,800
  • Quantity produced: 50 to 100 per year
  • Percentage British: 30%
  • UK Staff: 3
  • Location: London

 

Other British Brands

IWI Watcheshttp://www.iwiwatches.com

Accuristhttp://www.accurist.co.uk/

 

BRITISH WATCHMAKERS ABROAD

Stephen Forsey of Gruebel Forsey – http://www.greubelforsey.com

Peter Speake Marin of Speake Marin – http://www.speake-marin.com

Both are originally from Britain, but now work and live in Western Switzerland.

 

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NON-BRITISH COMPANIES

There are a number of companies, some that are popular brands, that make claims to a British foundation and heritage. However none of these company are directly connected with Britain or with the famous watchmakers or their original businesses which they are named after.

Graham 1695 – Founded in 1995, this independent Swiss company produces high end watches with a racing or aviation theme. Although there are no direct links, they are named after the famous English clock and watchmaker George Graham (1673 – 1751). The 1696 date is in reference to the first signed piece by George Graham

Arnold & Sons – As with Graham, they were founded in 1995, not in 1764 as is claimed. Sadly they have no heritage or connection with John Arnold (1736-99) the famous English chronometer maker or his sons who they are named after. It is now owned by Citizen.

Thomas Earnshaw – a Hong Kong/Chinese brand that is often sold on shopping channels. The quality of their watches is reflected in the price, which is very low, and so you should not expect the watch to last longer than a year without the need for a major service.

This article was originally published in November 2012, and has been updated 79 times since then. If you are one of the companies listed and wish to help update your details, please get in touch via the contact page

105 Responses

  1. Paul Collins says:

    Hello,

    I’ve been trying to find affordable British made watches. Very interesting to note your point above regarding Graham London. I’ve been to the following website: http://oceanictime.blogspot.com/ It suggests that Nite, Precista and ChristopherWard are British watches (or at least part British).

    Are these also imposters or can they be trusted?

    Thanks,
    Paul

    • Colin Colin says:

      Thanks for your message Paul.

      From what I understand Christopher Ward and Nite are British companies, but their watches are completely manufactured abroad using foreign components. Precista is a Swiss company, that has made Swiss watches for the British Armed Forces in the past. I may be wrong, and would be happy to be corrected.

      It would not be fair to call these companies “imposters”, as they are not pretending to be anything other than they are. They are all very transparent about where their watches are made, and what movement is inside them.

      The difference between these companies and ones such as Graham London, is that Graham London make strong and direct claims to be connected with George Graham, which is completely false. It’s frustrating because if the Chinese started making Breguet branded watches claiming they were Swiss the Swiss themselves would be up in arms, and so I find it disapointing when the Swiss do the same to English watchmakers.

      The main issue really is that English horology is not strong enough to fight back. Hopefully that may change in the future.

      If you want to get close to an English watch brand then I wouldn’t be disappointed with either Nite or Christopher Ward, as at least you are supporting the fledgling industry (who may well be looking to manufacture in the UK in the future). Both these brands are superb value for money.

      For an really affordable English manufactured watch, then I would suggest getting a Smiths from Ebay. I wear a Smiths Imperial most days which is from the 1950s, and find that it only needs to be adjusted by a minute a week.

      • Jim says:

        Your comments on people using old British names is interesting and a bit underhand. Is there anyway the old names could be protected?

        • Colin Colin says:

          Thanks for your comment Jim. I think there is not much that could be done unfortunately.

          The best way to protect a name would be for the company to have either survived intact or already been revived in this country.

          Heritage is a difficult subject, but one which is vastly important to the perceived legitimacy of a watch company.

          As an example, Patek Philippe claim to be the only independent family owned watch manufacture left. This is correct, but the family concerned is neither the Patek nor Philippe one, but rather the Stern family who bought the struggling company in 1932. Are they right to make their claims of unbroken heritage? It’s difficult to say.

          As I mentioned above, the only real way to protect a company name is to buy and produce watches under its banner ourselves. Could you argue though that a British person has more right to an old British name than someone from Switzerland, even although both are as unconnected to the original name as each another?

          From my personal point of view I don’t really mind.

          What is a concern is when someone takes an old company name; and then pretends that it is that old company, even although the watches they are producing are completely unsympathetic to the heritage they are laying claim to.

      • Paul Collins says:

        Colin – all very interesting.

        It seems that if you are on a budget then getting a purely British made watch is going to be difficult.

        If I had a budget of around £500 and I really wanted to support the British watch making industry (even in part) at which makers would you suggest I look?

        Thanks,
        Paul

        • Colin Colin says:

          Paul,

          If you are looking for a Sports/adventure type watch, then I’d suggest a CWC.

          For a more elegant dress watch then J & T Windmills would be a fine choice.

          Both can be found for around £500, and represent excellent value for money. The links to their websites are all above.

          I hope that helps.

      • craig says:

        I am not sure if this message is going to get through…i have a Colard watch…a search suggests the origin is British. It has 17 rubies, 14 K gold housing, and a miniature ‘dial” below the main face clock…the total size of the watch face is about the size of my finger nail. I am quite certain that the watch is at least 100 years old. Any help would be appreciated. thank you

        • Colin Colin says:

          Hi Craig,

          Thanks for your message.

          Wrist watches were first introduced during the First World War, with them not becoming popular until the later 1920s and 1930s. Because of the size of the watch is it likely much more recent than that, perhaps even from the 1960s when small watches were very fasionable.

          I am not familiar with the brand, it may actually just be the name of the model of the watch written on the dial. The small sub dial will likely be the seconds dial as you mentioned. 14k gold is a North American standard, and so the case at least is from closer to home to you. European watches will be either 9k or 18k.

          If you are able to send a photograph I may be able to help further.

          Colin

  2. Hello Colin,
    Happy New Year!
    Just thought you should know there are a few watch people around in the UK you may not know yet…
    Trained as a Silversmith I came to make watches (cases not movements) almost by accident a rather long time ago (shan’t admit how long as it just makes me feel old!). I have hand-made cases for all of that time and made a few big things too….see my website for those. I am about to launch my very first selling website, I will let you know as it launches.
    Mostly I have been working in a rather different field to most watch folk as I am most definitely in the ‘art’ groove. There is an extensive Case study of my work in the just published 3D Printing for Artists, Designers and Makers By Prof Stephen Hoskins so I am no slouch. I work by hand and by New Technology and both at the same time too. My most challenging project took six months from start to finish and resulted in the very first Selective Laser Sintered watch in Metal. It’s on my website, do have a look.
    I have done a few lectures at Birmingham over the years but none recently, think they have forgotten about me!
    Very busy all the time but really glad you are doing this site as it is REALLY interesting!
    Keep going and hope we can now be in touch.
    Best, Marianne

    • Colin Colin says:

      Hi Marianne, many thanks for your message, and Happy New Year to you too!

      Your work looks really very excellent! I will extend this list in the future to include Jewellers in the watch industry, as I think that this is something that Britain has a particular strength in. It also helps highlight the enormous talent pool we have, and that aspiring British watch companies don’t have to look abroad to find the skills they need. I will be in touch soon. Regards

  3. Timothy says:

    Very interesting website and thanks for all the information. I came across Harold Pinchbeck watches which appear to be English: would you include these under the heading of a British watchmaking company? many thanks

    • Colin Colin says:

      Hi Timothy, thanks for your comment. I have heard of Harold Pinchbeck watches before, and had actually researched them a little when writing this article. I would be happy to be corrected, however from what I can see they are mostly assemblers of aftermarket parts and are, in my opinion, far too generous with awarding themselves the “made in England” tag. Some of their more expensive watches have their cases made in the UK which is good to see. I will increase the scope of this list in the future, and small companies such as Harold Pinchbeck would fit in there. I hope that helps.

      Update: Harold Pinchbeck have made a comment regarding their set-up below

      • Timothy says:

        Thank you so much Colin, that’s very helpful because I am committed to getting a British watch. The trouble is the price tag with these watches. After reviewing all the makers and models I have come down to Robert Loomes but I don’t know how I’ll swing it past my wife. Until I convinced myself that I wanted to buy British I was going to get an Omega De Ville from eBay for less. Having just checked on eBay, I can in fact get a DE VILLE OMEGA CO-AXIAL ANNUAL CALENDAR 41 MM for £5200 from the USA. Is it possible to compare these two watches in terms of the bang you get for your buck? I appreciate this is a difficult question but for me it goes to the heart of question about buying British.

        • Colin Colin says:

          A mechanical watch, where-ever it comes from will not be a perfect timekeeper. If you want to tell the time exactly then your mobile smartphone, which connects to the internet and adjusts itself hundreds of times a day, is the best choice. An Omega De Ville is a great watch, using Co-Axial technology which was invented by Englishman George Daniels. You cannot compare the two as when you start to get into the realm of watches that cost £1000s then you are investing in more than just a functioning timepiece, you are buying an emotion.

          An emotion you get each time you look at it, an emotion every time you see someone notice you are wearing it, or an emotion for any number of other reasons. Omega are part of the largest watch group in the world, Swatch. The watch will have come through the factory having touched as few human hands as possible, it has to be that way because it is mass-produced. Robert Loomes’ watches are created with the opposite intention, with as many hands as possible working on the watch. Some people like the clean precision offered by a state of the art production line, other people prefer a timepiece that has been worked on directly by a watchmaker employing their own emotions in its creation.

          The typical mark-up for a mid to high-end Swiss watch is 70-80%, meaning that a £5000 watch could have cost the company just £1000 to make. The rest is profit which is shared amongst the manufacturer, distributor and retailers. I wouldn’t like to guess what the margins are for Robert Loomes, but considering that he is both the manufacturer and retailer himself, then it will likely be considerably less.

          An Omega is an immediately more recognisable brand, and will ultimately have a larger audience to appreciate the watch. You will have to ask yourself as to whether that is important to you.

          For a real comparison you need to try each of them on and see how they make you feel. An Omega can be found at most high street jewellers, for Robert Loomes I would recommend a trip to Lincolnshire to see the watch in person. I have spoken to Robert just few days ago and he confirmed that he has almost sold out of the gent’s watches. You might not like it, in which case it makes the decision easy.

          Before I got into watchmaking I used to have my own business selling paintings. I found that if someone didn’t like a painting they might think it was worth £100, if they absolutely loved it they would happily pay £1,000, and believe that they actually got more “bang for their buck”. Why? Because of how it made them feel.

          I hope that helps.

  4. Edward Gills says:

    i found this very interesting and also very helpful. I am an aspiring watchmaker myself who is just getting to grips with the world of horology, my aims are to successfully create a fully British watchmaking company that creates detailed handmade watches. I intend to use exotic (yet relatively inexpensive) crystals for the dial, what are your thoughts on this? would it be too brittle over time for example. What you said about the emotion a watch gives you is very eye opening and that’s why i chose to use the natural beauty of crystals. I also wanted to ask advice on the most effective method of producing the intricate pieces needed (such as lever arm) without very expensive equipment. Im sure you will be hearing from me again with more thoughts and questions.
    Thanks

    • Colin Colin says:

      Thanks for your comment Edward. I’m not a gemmologist and so I don’t know a great deal about the properties of different crystals. What you will find with something like watchmaking is that in general;

      1) if it’s possible someone has already tried it

      2) if people aren’t doing it, then there’s often a good reason why

      Dials need to be incredibly flat and also very thin. This can be very hard to achieve with natural materials. You will also probably need to back it with a copper dial that has the dial feet, so you won’t be able to get a translucent look easily. That being said, some firms are using sapphire for their dials. This is basically aluminium oxide, and by adding different minerals you can change the colour to pretty much anything in the spectrum. You can grow sapphire artificially, but making dials from that would, I presume, be very difficult and expensive.

      Don’t be off-put, the reason people aren’t doing it is maybe they think it’s too difficult, which could make it your USP. Maybe you can find a firm that makes coloured crystals for a completely different purpose, and coincidentally their product would make a perfect dial.

      Everything in horology can be made with inexpensive tools. The caveat is that you need a lifetime of experience to become skilled enough to do that. Back when everything was hand-made, the job used to be split into dozens of different skills with each person spending their entire working lives doing just one of them.
      I’m not sure what you mean by the lever arm. If you mean the escapement lever, then in all practicality there is no way to make one without expensive equipment. A CNC machine that is accurate enough would cost millions.

      This is why most companies choose to use off the shelf movements.

      Keep persevering!

      If you find it hard going my advice would be start small, get “something” finished, and then you can set your sights on achieving your final goal

  5. Interesting information re’ British watchmakers and Brands. I have a J&T Windmills and whilst it’s very pleasing and evocative of it’s origins perhaps, I have to confess to a preference in owning and wearing my 1950’s Smiths Astral (centre seconds).
    Made in Cheltenham I understand, with a 17 jewel hacking shockproof lever movement and one of the most elegant watches I own.
    When not worn for a week or two, just touching the watch it immediately sweeps into action and as for timekeeping, I would be hard pressed to beat it with any other watch I own!

    Many thanks for your excellent information on British and let’s hope more take up “made in Britain” – it’s about time!

    • Colin Colin says:

      Thanks a lot John! J&T are lovely watches and, as you say, have made a real conscious effort to design them in a sympathetic style.

      I too wear a Smiths on occasion. Their top end watches are absolutely fantastic, and represent really understated value for money. Smiths did also make some of the worst watches produced, but thankfully they have mostly all died now and so we’re just left with the crème

  6. Pingback: British (made) Watches – do they exist? | Watch space

    • Colin Colin says:

      Thanks Greg.

      Pinion watches… I must admit I was left feeling a bit disappointed. On the one hand it’s great to see another British company get into the industry; and the design is nice, but on the other hand they’re not actually contributing to British watchmaking.

      Their logo design includes non-horological wheels, and their description of a pinion – what their own company is named after – is wrong. That tells me immediately that this isn’t a watchmaking company; which is what Britain needs more of.

      To be fair, anyone can print their own dials and stick it on a Swiss movement. Hundreds of amateurs do this already.

      They say their watchmakers are BHI qualified, and if so, then they are skilled enough to make parts. Why not make some of the bridges? It’s not that difficult and you can completely change the appearance of the movement.

      Sorry to sound cynical but when you see what German companies like Nomos, Meistersinger and Habring are doing; efforts like Pinion really don’t get me excited.

      But hey, if you like the design and want to support a company that may have grander ideas in the future, then why not give Pinion a go. Their price, at around £2000, though isn’t that cheap but neither is it outrageously expensive.

  7. Lee Bowtell says:

    Hi Colin,

    This is a great page, I’ve learnt things just reading the Q & As you have, its amazing to see what english watchmakers have contributed to horology, yet the swiss have been championed for most of it.

    I didn’t realise smiths was a gloucestershire based company, my home is gloucester.

    its also disapointing to see great british names being used by companies to sell watches such as Graham, the watches they make are on the most part horrific! its a shame nothing can be done to stop it!

    I have actually got my interview at the BHI tomorrow to do a BA hons Horology degree which would start in september 2014 so I’m spending today finishing reading up and researching everything I can for tomorrow which is how i came across your page, I look forward to seeing more on it in the future.

    regards

    lee

    • Colin Colin says:

      Hi Lee,

      Thanks for your comment!

      Good luck at BCU (Birmingham City University). They will want to see passion and enthusiasm, plus some evidence that you are pratically minded won’t hurt.

      The problem that watchmaking in the UK faces is education. Educating new watchmakers and also educating the public.

      You can either sit at home and shake your fist, or you can go and make a difference. As an aspiring watchmaker, you can be part of the vanguard of the revival in British watchmaking!

      • Does anyone know of a watch glass cutter still working in the UK? I need some tiny watch glasses cut and can’t find anyone to do these at the moment. Only need a few!
        Quality must be the best, of course.
        Thank you in advance, Marianne

        • Hi Marianne and all!

          Marianne I have actually been meaning to get in touch regarding an exhibition on British watchmaking I’m curating at BCU and I’d love your involvement, seeing your comment earlier we’ve definitely not forgotten about you but there has been a big change around in teaching staff over recent years.

          Also RE glass cutting we highly recommend Hatton’s Edge on Hatton Garden (http://www.hattonsedgeltd.co.uk/). We’ve had a nightmare getting crystals cut in the past but these guys are great, especially with unusual and fancy shapes.

          Hope that helps!

          • Hi Rebecca,

            Thank you for the contact details, I will look them up….actually its perfect timing as I have some new watches to cut glass for!

            I would love to be involved in the exhibition in some way. Do you want to ring me to discuss? My number is 07867 553 887. I may not be able to pick up straight away as I am so busy and often in meetings (with my CASS hat on) but will return your call as soon as I am able.
            So glad you haven’t forgotten me.

            Best wishes
            Marianne

  8. Stuart Eggleton says:

    Are there any very small workshops that can make one of movement? In same way there are jewellery makers?

  9. designmonkey says:

    Id also like to know of anyone that can cut glass to make a watch lens. I know Robert Looms gets his from a satellite lens manufacturer based in this country (or at least that what an forum based article told me)

  10. Good afternoon

    Firstly may I comment on what a useful and constructive site this appears to be.

    If i can introduce myself; my name is Jason, I am a designer/engineer with Harold Pinchbeck watches. I have read the above thread with interest and would like to correct the post/comment on our company if I may.

    We are a company based in Lincoln and are still co-owned by a member of the Pinchbeck family. The Pinchbeck family watchmaking history has gone through a few changes and breaks over its long history, but it is a genuine one, and the company as it trades now is named after Paul Pinchbeck’s grandfather, Harold Pinchbeck, who was a watch and clock maker/repairer in the midlands of England.

    We do make our watches in England and the majority of our components are also made here. We do use Swiss movements, however as many of our watches are custom built, the movements can be re-worked if the customer requires this. We do have the ability to produce one-off English movements, the cost and time involved in this would be very prohibitive for many however so we do not tend to market this upfront in our web presence.

    We make cases, dials and other parts here in Lincoln, many of the components are hand finished and hand painted here in our Lincoln workshop in a medieval building, because of the restrictions of our building we work very closely with several specialist engineers in lincoln and the east of England to produce some of these parts. Lincoln has a very rich engineering history and I served my time with a very old engineering firm here, a firm where there was not a CNC machine to be seen! Much of the work was done by hand.

    Some of the less obvious, but no less important parts, such as the straps are also made in England, we have our straps produced by a third generation leather worker in Devon, England. We are also working closely with a highly skilled Lincoln cabinet maker, who works with the Lincoln Cathedral, to produce some fine Oak wood boxes.

    Co-Director Paul Pinchbeck spent much of his time as a young boy dismantling and tinkering with watches and clocks in his family business, as it existed then, we have carried this enthusiasm into the company as it is today. We are progressive but also believe in keeping old values and traditions alive as much as possible, we are also keen on training and bringing fresh minds and ideas into our company.

    I do not intend this to be a plug for our watches but thought it may help to clear up the grey area there seemed to be on our company in the above posting. We are very open and transparent so any questions are most welcome.

    Thank you for your time
    Regards
    Jason.

    • Colin Colin says:

      Many thanks for your message Jason.

      I am very happy to be corrected and would be more than pleased to add to to the above list; I have contacted you directly for the details.

      Colin

      • Rod Farnworth says:

        Colin,

        I have been looking at Harold Pinchback amongst others to potentially produce a bespoke timepiece for a small niche part of the military. Can you confirm if the company would be listed above? I am looking for a British maker which can deliver a bespoke design but keep the price achievable for all ranks, which rules out other foreign manufacturers which have all been done before.

        • Colin Colin says:

          Hi Rob,

          Thanks for your message. Harold Pinchbeck have been in touch with me previously, and we came to an agreement that they could classify their watches as “60%” made in Britain. It could be worthwhile giving them a call.

          The other brand that immediately springs to mind is Bremont, who already make bespoke watches for niche parts of the military.

          If you’re wanting to keep it much cheaper, around the £1000 mark, get in touch with CWC. It would be fairly straightforward for them, or any other manufacturer, to make a bespoke dial for you.

          I hope that helps.

          Colin

          • Rod Farnworth says:

            Colin,

            Thanks for the guidance relating to this subject. Bremont have recently completed a commision for collegues recently but as you identified it might be out of financial reach for some. I will contact cwc & hp to get an idea of options.
            Great website. Very informative enabling me to keep it british (or at least a large %)

            Regards

            Rod

            Regards

            Rod

  11. Hi there.

    Great reading above, very interesting plus comments.

    I am looking for a list of companies in the UK who are making watch parts wholesale, cases in particular.

    Can anybody help?

    Regards,
    Paul

  12. Paul says:

    RTL look like a British watch company for a reasonable price. Do they still actually manufacture in the UK or is this too good to be true.

  13. Viktoras says:

    I truly enjoyed reading through this article and even the comments. This is the best summary on British made watches I have ever came across. Thanks Colin!

  14. Nigel says:

    Thanks. A very informative site. I have in fact purchased two of Robert Loomes watches. A Robin & ladies Robina as a matching pair for myself and my wife. This 18 months or so back following a newspaper article. We enjoy them and are very pleased we bought them. They are not in daily use, but perform perfectly when worn.

    I am a firm believer that if you value British products, you have to buy them, or they wont be there. Its hard to do, but possible in many areas. We may not have a British owned car maker now, unless Morgan is still British, but we do have a very stron British made car industry. I have a Land Rover product! Also, Triumph is now a great success after significant investment by the British house builder John Bloor bought the brands back in the eary 80’s. I bought mine in 2001. You can extend this right throught to everyday food products. You just have to look.
    The most important countries get there through making things. Financial services etc are great revenue earners, but China, Germany and the others all enjoy their economic success on the back of manufacturing. As Britain once did.
    Go buy. I think Robert Loomes would love to be able to invest, possible with other like minded folk, into movement manufacturing. He and others will only be able to do it if he generates the income.

  15. Timbo says:

    The only all-british made watches which are in the realms of most people’s budget are Smiths/ Smiths-Astral. This was the company that made speedometers for BMC/ BL/ Rover cars and now I think specialise in aviation electronics and airport security scanners.

    They stopped making watches in the 70s but up until then were entirely made near Cheltenham and a site in Wales (exceptsome of the later models where they sold out to Swiss automatic movements). They are always available on internet websites and are lovely watches, I have two! They’re all manual wind-up movements apart from the later Swiss made movements.

    They range between about £50 (for the 5-jewel ‘Empire’ models) to anything upto £750 – £100 for the 15-21 jewlel ‘MOD Military Issue, ‘Everest’, and ‘Imperial’ models. My watch of choice is a 7-jewel Empire, is keeps perfect time with one wind a day and cost me £40!

  16. Stephanie Acheampong says:

    Hi all,
    I thoroughly enjoyed reading through the threads on this page and its amazing to know so much thought and effort go into making British watches. I would like to start my own watch line but I am completely clueless on what to do with my idea. Could anyone please point me in the right direction in terms of where to get materials from or good manufacturers. I would greatly appreciate all contributions. Thank you.

  17. Robert H says:

    Although I am not even a watch wearer these days (thank the phones for that), I have been tempted by a watch making seminar in Switzerland where you can make your own watch. The company is called Cimier.

    I was wondering if you had any knowledge of this company and it’s courses. More importantly does anyone in the UK do a similar thing?

    I realise it is assembly of the watch, but having something you have built yourself sounds too good an opportunity to miss.

    Robert.

  18. James Atkins says:

    Hi everyone

    I love the page, it is informative and useful. I wonder could anyone help me to understand how photography in the world of timepieces works. i do a lot of commercial work for architects, builders and I have worked with classic cars, motorcycles and even WW2 aircraft but I do have a passion for watches and watch photography.

    In your experience, should I approach companies with a portfolio of work or aim to be discovered. I’m sorry if this is not the correct place to submit this enquiry but i would love to break into this field and I feel as though I have the potential to do so. Thanks Everyone

    James

    • Colin Colin says:

      Hi James,

      As with most things, fortune favours the brave and so you’ll have to do the agressive leg work to strt with. Once you’re established you’ll be in a position to pick and choose your work, but that may be some time coming. If you’re interested in watches from a purely photographic point of view then I’d recommend taking a look at the coffe table book called Movement by Guido Mocafico. Fantasic collection of photographs of some of the best watch movements

  19. Paul Sunderland says:

    I have got a Smith’s watch at home and it is quartz movement never seen another and seems to be from the 80s is this worth hanging on to or selling on…as all the other Smith’s are mainly mechanical..ie my astral etc..

    • Colin Colin says:

      From what I’m aware, Smiths made a few variations of the electronic watch starting from the 1960s through to their closure. In this sense they were pioneers in field of quartz watches, however the cost of development of such watches is one of the attributing factors in the company haemorrhaging money, as the Japanese were soon able to produce technically similar timepieces but at a fraction of the cost. Worth hanging onto if you want to collect Smiths watches, as they are relatively rare. The chance of getting one repaired if it needs a serious service though are very slim, as there will be a severe lack of parts available.

  20. Zul says:

    Hi Colin, great write up on British watchmakers. I saw you’ve got Bremont in your article sans mentioning Elliot Brown. They’re Poole-based if I’m not mistaken. How do you rate them?

    • Colin Colin says:

      Hi Zul, I’d not heard of Elliot Brown before, but a quick look on their website tells me what I need to know; they produce decent looking watches that are reasonably priced, that use budget Swiss movements and other 3rd party parts, and mostly seem to have a nautical theme.

  21. David says:

    Anyone know where I can get my own design watches made in the UK. I have been looking everywhere but even Google is failing me. Can anyone help ?

    • Colin Colin says:

      Hi David,

      So far, I have not come across any UK based company that offer to make watches for other people. In fact globally such companies are mostly restricted to China.

      The reason being that if you can make watches for other people, then you can also make them for yourself; and it’s generally going to be a lot more profitable to sell your own product direct to market rather than small (relatively) quantaties of wholesale priced items to someone else.

      There are quite a few people that have asked this question mind, and so there may well be a market for such a company to operate.

  22. Roger says:

    Hi

    Just wanted to say Thanks for a very useful resource. I was looking for something a little different, rugged enough for use as a vet. The CWC looks perfect – I would never have found it without your help!

  23. pietro says:

    (editor’s note: Pietro works for Graham watches)
    Hi,
    I would like to point out that Graham is 50% Britishly owned, with a subsidiary (Graham 1695 UK ltd) based London, of which I am personally responsible for.
    Like most other British or half-British brands, the production is Swiss.

    For your records, “The British Masters” is an entity that does not exist since 2010, date that marks the separation between Arnold&Son and Graham.
    Since 2010 Arnold&Son belongs to La-Joux-Perret (famously known for manufacturing Corum, Baume&Mercier, Hublot, Bremont movements).
    In 2013 La-Joux-Perret, and therefore A&S, was sold to Citizen.

    As for Graham, the brand is still co-owned by Eric Loth and a very respected British gentleman, who has always wished to remain silent (obviously everybody in the watch industry knows who the gentleman is, I could give you the name in private if you wish).
    The brand Graham has nothing to do with Citizen.

    The date 1695 makes reference to the fact that on the market one can find “Graham” signed pieces as far back as 1695.
    However, Graham humbly points out in all press releases that the modern day’s Graham has been re-started in 1995, and there is no continuous history since 1695.
    Graham is an active member of the BHI and wishes to disclose some of the fascinating history of English watchmaking.

    I hope you will find this helpful to refine your story above.
    Feel free to contact me in case you need more precise and exact information?

  24. Hi Colin,

    We are starting our second watch company working with a maker in Switzerland utilising Ronda and ETA movements. We have designed an interesting initial seven watches with Universal Geneve as our horological inspiration amongst other references . This is a humble beginning but ultimately we want to make a British movement. However our strategy as with our other companies is to make great quality product but at an affordable price. As I aged I have bought many well timepieces from many of the usual quality contenders, IWC, Panerai etc but latterly started buying late sixties Omega / Universal etc, from a halcyon period of Swiss watchmaking. But for a 25-35 year old many of these vintage watches are out of reach at £1-£5k….. Our brand seeks to correct this by being a watch constructed from all new designed elements , hands, dial, crown etc with the detail and uniqueness of the coloured dial / hands period of late sixties/early seventies Omega, Universal, Heuer, Breitling etc….

    So long winded explanation but our real passion will be to deliver a mechanical chronograph watch for under £2000 having a movement made in the UK . Surely the only way back for British manufacturing and the craft of watchmaking is to deliver an affordable product that has the potential to be made in mid sized volume.

    Any help or insight that could be given on my/our quest is very welcome.

    Farer launches 1st November.

    Best

    Paul Sweetenham

    • Colin Colin says:

      hi Paul,

      That’s exactly what needs to happen. Long term, mass market manufacture of watch components needs to happen in Britain for there to be any hope of a significant industry in the future.

      The problem is that it’s very expensive, with a fairly slow recovery of investment. Bremont looked into this before and came back with a figure of £20 million to set up production in the UK. That seems a bit steep, but you’re certainly going to be looking at an investment of at least £5 million if you are wanting to produce movements in the quantities of 1000’s.

      The issue with overcoming this is:
      1) There’s no central hub for UK watch companies to pool their limited resources (mainly because the industry is so small)
      2) There is zero goverment help. This is one of the main reason the Swiss and German watchmaking industries are doing so well, and the historical lack of support is one of the main reasons why Smith Watches (the last large scale British made brand) closed down.

      I personally love the 60’s design of watches and so am very interested in what you are able to offer.

      Best of luck!

  25. David says:

    Hi Colin,
    I thought Christopher Ward was an English watch maker but you seem to make no mention of them. May I ask why that is?

    • Colin Colin says:

      Hi David, Christopher Ward is a British company, but they do not manufacture any of the parts themselves, instead using 3rd parties to produce the case, movement, dial etc. which is then assembled in Switzerland.

  26. William Evans says:

    Dear Sir, I love this page and the information contained in it. I do not wish to be a bore , however, there are one or two thing I would like to point out. In 1753, John Jeffreys made what is considered to be the first true precision watch to a Harrison design. John Hadley and Thomas Godfrey simultaneously and independently invented instruments for the lunar distance method. Thomas Godfrey was from Pennsylvania, however, he was still British at the time, at least until 1776! Any Americans reading this can dispute all they want:} Finally, H-4, which ultimately won the Longitude prize should not be forgotten. John Harrison was a genius without whom the Marine Chronometer as we know it today would not be around, some of the things he developed are still used, bi-metallic strips for example and the escapement of which Mr Mudge developed further. Yes, I am a nerd, but at least I am a British nerd. I like the page and it does a great job, I do apologize if I seem to be critical, I am not, I would just like to see it perfect, like Mr Harrison and his sea clocks. Thanks

    • Colin Colin says:

      Hi William, John Harrison was not a watchmaker by trade, rather a furniture maker and so many of his earlier clocks were made with wooden wheels as this was the material he was the most familar with. It seems natural that when he needed a watch made that he would employ someone else to do it, in this case John Jefferys.

      The Jefferys watch was good but not good enough to make an attempt at the longitude prize and should rather be considered a prototype.

      Thomas Godfrey died in 1749, and was from British America. He would have considered himself American.

      The H4’s escapement was frictional rest, more akin to the verge escapement, and very inefficient by later designs. Mudge’s developments were in a completely different direction and so they were not developements of Harrison’s escapement, which should be considered a dead-end design. Bi-metallic strips are no longer in use, as modern materials can naturally overcome temperature differences.

      I’m not sure what you mean by “just like to see it perfect”. There’s only so much I can write in an introduction, and you’ve not added anything that contradicts what I have written.

  27. Steven Basford says:

    Wouldn’t Timefactors count as a British company as Eddie makes the watches himself? Least that’s the belief.

    • Colin Colin says:

      Hi Steven,

      I don’t know too much about Timefactors so I may be mistaken. From what I can gather they are a British business that uses resources that are all sourced from overseas.

      I don’t see evidence that they assemble the watches themselves, or that they are even designed in Britain.

      The use of the Smiths logo too is a bit dubious, as although they state they’re not connected, Smiths Group Plc is still very much an alive and kicking company and so copying their logo and using old advertisements sounds like it would be breaking copyright.

      But never the less, they are very well priced watches that are quite attractive.

      • Steven Basford says:

        Well that’s interesting as I wasn’t aware Smiths were still going especially since Eddie Platts at Timefactors has the license to make and sell their brand watches. Agreed sourcing parts all over, but just about everyone does. Smiths Group watch making definitely stopped making watches in 1979. You couldn’t just use their logo without trade mark infringement. Some of them are very stylish and reasonable for what you get.

  28. Graham says:

    Hi Colin,
    I happened across your site as I am trying to date a watch i have been left by a deceased relative who collected Omega’s. It appears to be a steel case, polished back and cap, the face is a light gold colour with a small sweeping second hand in a separate dial at 6 O’clock. It says Hermes on the face with a small made in England at 6 O’clock. The movement is 15 jewel, also says made in England and there is a serial number starting with a ‘C’.
    Photo’s are available if you need them, hoping you can help. It’s also manual wind and working!

    Graham

    • Colin Colin says:

      Hi Graham,

      It sounds like a Marine Standard watch that Omega helped make for Hermes in the 1930s. I have sent you an email so you can forward some photos

  29. Michael says:

    Hi Colin,

    Just so you and your readers are aware, as with all things in the Dreyfuss group ie Rotary, J&T Windmills and Dreyfuss watches, the majority of the models carry Chinese movements and as of roughly early 2015 Dreyfuss was sold to the Chinese.
    That’s for the benefit of those that want a “British” watch.

  30. Patrick Hurd says:

    Hi Colin,

    Thank you for the nice read, very interesting and informative.

    Question and your opinion: why would a Swiss company want to hi-jack a British Watch Maker’s name when Swiss watches are considered the best and most widely known internationally; while British makes old and new, are hardly discernible globally other then to aficionados?

    • Colin Colin says:

      Hi Partick, that’s a fair point.

      My opinion is that is that there were two main reasons:
      1) No-one else had used the name
      2) All the major Swiss watchmakers are already accounted for

      People like George Graham, Tompion and Earnshaw are really powerhouses in the history of watch and clock making. They literally have changed the world through their ideas.

      Heritage or perceived heritage has a great deal of weight in the world of watchmaking. Watch houses with a long history dominate the market, even although they bear almost no resemblence and mostly have no connection to their original forms.

      My view is that if someone hasn’t made a watch for 200 years, and the company is dead, then it’s fair to let it stay that way. That’s part of the tapestry of history. Move on and do something new.

      To ressurect something and then claim credit for someone else’s achievements is incredibly disingenuous in my opinion. Sadly a lot of people don’t share that view, and as most customers are ignorant of the true history; they will continue to believe what the marketing hype tells them to.

      Colin

      • Patrick Hurd says:

        Thank you Colin for your reply, greatly appreciated.

        Your explanation makes complete sense.

        Best regards

        Patrick

  31. Mick Burton says:

    Hello Colin. What a eye opener your site is. I have a question. I have a watch that is battery operated. Can I get a watch maker to install a automatic movement at a reasonable price. Thanks Mick

    • Colin Colin says:

      Hi Mick,

      Thanks for your message. You can change a quartz watch to a mechanical one or and vice versa. To be honest I’m not sure you’d want to though. The battery powered watch is in almost all practical measurements better than the mechanical one; it is easier to maintain, cheaper to repair, considerably more accurate, has better durability etc. The only thing it lacks is the emotional and tactile connection that a mechanical watch can provide.

      Also, your watch’s case, crown, dial and hands will all have been designed with the movement that is currently fitted in mind. You’d likely have to do some irreversable adjustments to these to get another movement to fit properly. In any case, it would not be a “reasonably priced” change to your watch. You can buy a reliable quartz watch movement for £2, whereas you’re looking at closer to £200 for a reliable mechanical watch movement.

      If you like the idea of a mechanical watch, then you can buy a nice 2nd hand one from eBay for £50.

      Colin

  32. steven hodson says:

    Just wondering if you can help me,I have a fob watch handed down to me with the name t j Hopkins in its display case, have you heard of the company,they were based in hull and the only record I can find is from 1892

  33. Pietro Tomajer says:

    (editor’s note: Pietro works for Graham watches)
    Hi Colin
    I just wish to re-iterate that without those Swiss business men who decided to take risks and resurrect some of the old names of watchmaking (not only the British, but even French like Breguet or Italian like Panerai), the vast majority of the connoisseurs would not even have heard of the legend and the stories behind this great pioneers of the art we love.
    For sure, marketing exploitation can’t be trusted in a lot of cases, but when brands openly state what is their relation (or non relation) to the origins of the name that they bare well, there should not be a massive problem I believe.
    Graham openly states that the brand has been launched in 1995, and takes INSPIRATION from th unbelievable achievements of George Graham as a watchmaker. This is a fact.

    Leaving alone the fact that, as you surely know, the majority of the independent watchmakers don’t actually make any money, and the capitals invested are always far superior to the dividends generated.
    So, yes, business is business but there is a part of credit to be given to some of these visionary investors who have been contributed to the collectors awareness of stories than had been forgotten.
    Just my opinion, of course.

    • Pietro Tomajer says:

      (editor’s note: Pietro works for Graham watches)
      Thanks for publishing. I also would like to point out that Graham is actually 50% British owned, as most don’t know.
      Thanks again.
      P

  34. David says:

    Hi I love some of the watches mentioned, I’ve been looking at NITE watches, how do you rate them? I thought they were a British company? thanks 🙂

    • Colin Colin says:

      Hi David, yes Nite are a British company that uses foreign made parts. I’ve never handled one of their watches, but certainly they are attractive and distinctive enough to be worth a serious consideration

    • Colin Colin says:

      Hi Steven,

      Thanks for your message.

      I haven’t heard of them; as there were hundreds of small watch companies in Britain at that time. The only thing I can find is that the TJ stands for Thomas John. The best place ot look would be a census of around that time, if you can find out the address then the Post Office records will also give you some more details. A quick search shows that there are a number of Thomas Hoskin in Hull or around Yorkshire at that time, but not Hoskins – with an “s” at the end.

      I hope that’s of help.

      Colin

  35. Mike says:

    Interesting site.

    By virtue of name I’m interested in Earnshaw watches, and appreciate they are a marketing ploy, for a generic movement piece.

    Which movement?

    Also, when you mentioned that expectations should be low and they require a service after a year, can you elaborate on what “service” entails. I’m unsure if there would be any craftsmen in my area, plenty of “jewelers” but horologists … ???

    • Colin Colin says:

      Hi Mike,

      The movements in Earnshaw watches are all made in China. The quality is not great at all and is quite comparable to the replica/fake watches you can buy from a dodgy market. They can look nice, but they have a lot of inherent problems. For a watch of this value, the movements are usually not repaired, as it is not economical to do so.

      So if you do buy one and it stops working – your best bet will be to buy a direct replacement. If you’re buying it just for the name and want a watch that is attractive, and you’ll only wear it on occasions – you might get lucky.

      I hope that helps.

      Colin

  36. Michelle says:

    Hi Colin

    Just discovered this yesterday & what a useful blog this is! I am currently considering buying myself a British-made watch. Having now seen the average price for a 100% one though, I think I am going to need to review my options! That being said, I’ve taken your advice & had a look at Harold Pinchbeck, which is more in line with my budget.

    However, can I just make one small observation/plea? Women like wearing watches too, yet all the designs are very masculine. Don’t get me wrong – this is exactly the design I want for my everyday watch, something I can wear to work that will look really smart, which is why I want to invest in a good English watch. But it seems a shame that the designs are all the same. Lots of women look at watches not just as utility items, but as items of jewellery as well. I’m sure I’m not alone in wishing that there were more feminine designs availble for proper English watches. Some jewellery companies have really lovely designs. Their watches aren’t in the same league as Roger Smith et al, but their designs are gorgeous.

    It won’t stop me from getting my proper English watch of course! Just hoping that one day, one of these watchmakers will combine their fantastic mechanical skill with some jewellery-like design.

    Thanks again for the blog, it’s great.

    • Hi Michelle,
      I quite agree and as a watch case maker I would love to team up with a watchmaker to make a watch that is both beautiful…. not just covered in expensive rocks…….. and has a hand made movement. One day!

    • Colin Colin says:

      Hi Michelle,

      Many thanks for your message, and your kind comments!

      Ladies watches are increasinlgy becoming a smaller section of the luxury watch market, as a lot of women are choosing to wear men’s sized watches, or the mid-sized boy’s range. Most Gents and Boys watches are now seen as unisex.

      Currently Robert Loomes sells the Robina, which is a ladies sized watch.

      But you are right, and most of the brands listed sell watches designed by and for men. Once we see a British brand take a bigger slice of the luxury watch market, then they will in a position to create a wider variety of watches – currently they are mostly aiming towards releasing models that will sell the easiest.

      I agree though and a wider choice of feminine watches would be no bad thing, there certainly could be a niche big enough to form a lucrative market for anyone brave enough to take that leap.

      Colin

  37. Dear Colin – excellent website and I’m glad you’ve highlighted the current use of some famous names of old as ‘brands’. I can understand the temptation to do this, but the sort of products involved would draw fruity comment from such as the likes of Earnshaw! Regards. David

    • Colin Colin says:

      Hi David, thanks a lot!

      Yes, it seems a lazy form of marketing to ride of the coat-tails of the efforts of others. I think there is no real harm in using an old name; but at least make some effort to be sympathetic to the original designs, and avoid being disingenuous by being clear about the lack of a true link.

      Colin

  38. hamish says:

    Precista actually owned by Eddie Platts in Sheffieldhttp://www.timefactors.com/precista.htm he owns the rights to the names of Smiths, Sewills, Armstrong Siddeley, Dreadnought, and Speedbird. he has watches designed using cues from classic watches. He then sources the movements (much of the time they are good quality ETA) and has them assembled. The prices for the watches are more than reasonable for the quality one is buying. I would estimate a £400-£500 watch from him would be the equivalent of a hight street priced branded watch of £1600-£2200. many are limited runs and are excellent. I have several of his watches. His PRS 9 is a reworking of the Longines made for the Czech air force pilots in WW2 and is superior in my opinion to one that Longines have recently produced, interestingly he produced his version before Longines did theirs. His Speedbird has echoes of the old IWC pilots watches, his original Dreadnought is now so collectable it changes hands for possibly 5x the original price if you can find anyone willing to sell. he is definitely a person who one should keep one’s eye on if one is looking for good well priced well made timepieces. I will buy off him again if another of his pieces catch my eye. Lastly Nite watches are definitely worth the money, decent well made quartz watch of a active, military bent.

  39. hamish says:

    Just for the record, Eddie Platts is a very honourable chap and does indeed own the rights to produce watches with the names he has he infringes no copyright as an ex British Military man he conducts his business very well. It would be well worth initiating contact to clarify ones understanding of what he does. And very well worth handling one of his watches.

    • Colin Colin says:

      Hi Hamish,

      Thanks for your comment and updating me. I’ll get in touch with Eddie as you mentioned to get some more information,

      Colin

      • hamish says:

        You are very welcome Colin. I am sure you will have a fruitful conversation about what he tries to do and has accomplished so far.
        Regards
        Hamish

    • Colin Colin says:

      Hi Efan, historically Wrexham was one of the Uk’s watchmkaing centres, and Smiths watches were made in Ystradgynlais after the war. Sadly none of the industry has survived. I always liked the idea of using Welsh gold when I, eventually, make my own watch.

      Colin

  40. Efan says:

    Colin,

    Which brands were the top sellers in the golden era of UK Watch making and what made them so desirable? Were they the time pieces of choice for the elite/Royalty for instance?

    Cofion/Regards
    Efan

    • Colin Colin says:

      Efan,

      It’s difficult to say exactly which were the best selling watches during the 19th Century. A lot of the British watches were put together by groups of individual craftsmen each doing one task; the watch would then be named as the retailer that then sold the complete watch.

      Familiar names that laid claim to be watchmakers to the Queen (Victoria) are EJ Dent, JW Benson and T Russell & Son. British watches were always seen as high quality; and there are examples of Swiss made watches putting “made in England” of their dials to claim excellence (the opposite of what happens today). Rolex was founded in London due to the British watchmaking reputation of that time.

      Colin

    • Colin Colin says:

      Hi Craig,

      Looks like you’re right, I’ve removed the link. I can confirm that the website was still active a month ago.

      Dent was an unusual addition on the list anyway. They’re named after the chap who helped build the clock in the Elizabeth Tower (what Big Ben is attached to), although not connected to the original business. They were most famous for recently adding the clock to the St Pancras station remodelling, although on the watches side – I don’t know anyone who had ever seen one of their time-pieces, even although they have advertsied them for sale for years. They never responded to any messages I sent them.

      They were listed as expensive, £25,000, and claimed to be fitted with with UK made movements. Any company that was capable of making a 100% UK made movement would be incredibly well known, which Dent weren’t, so it seems most probable that they weren’t actually making or selling watches (in any quantity anyway).

  41. Mike Jeacock says:

    I have a silver pocket watch with Jos with small ‘h’ above ie either Joseph Joshua etc with surname Millis then London date 1844.

    I cannot find a pocket watch maker with that name anywhere, can you assist please?

  42. Kathleen-Ann Armstrong says:

    Hi Colin, great site and hopefully one that’ll prove helpful in my own research.

    As opposed to many previous posters, I’m not a watch maker but I have recently been developing some luxury, handcrafted, Harris Tweed watch straps and I’m trying to find a British (ideally Scottish but not essential) watch maker who would be interested in a possible collaboration but I have no idea where to start.

    My work seems to be generating a lot of interest on social media, specifically Instagram and I’d love to see my work affiliated with a quality British watch maker.

    I’m hoping someone can point me towards some relevant leads.

    Kind regards

    • Colin Colin says:

      Hi Kathleen,

      That sounds exactly like the kind of thing that Schofield would be interested in. I’d give Giles Ellis a call and see what he thinks.

      Other than that you may as well contact every company on this list. You don’t have anything to lose from getting in touch with as many people as you can.

      Best of luck and I hope you find some interest!

      Colin

  43. Mike P says:

    Hi Colin

    Great info. Thanks for sharing.
    Can you clarify the 5% British score for Bremont? As I understand it they manufacture cases and movement parts at a site near Silverstone. Movement is ETA, but you have other watch brands using ETAs and scoring 60%.

    Thanks

    Mike

    • Colin Colin says:

      Hi Mike,

      Bremont are sadly a company that is prone to hyperbole and lies. Which is very disapointing as they are easily the largest British watch company.

      I have personal experience of them being incredibly and willingly dishonest, and quite often will tell the public something as fact when it is completely untrue. The 5% score represents the fact that the company is British; but their watches are made abroad.

      For some of their range they could have a higher percentage of the watch made in Britain, but I have asked Bremont on many occasions to provide evidence of their British assembly or production and they’ve always refused; and sadly like the boy who cried wolf, when the company has been proven dishonest so many times in the past, when they make claims about British assembly ect and provide no evidence then I’m not going to believe them without evidence.

      Most watch media sources will never say anything negative about a watch company even if they have evidence to do so, as their income comes from that same watch company. Bremont have a lot of financial backing from the USA (a certain Science based religion), and so most publications; online or otherwise, are in their pocket.

      I hope that helps.

      Colin

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