George Bamford is best known for customizing (officially authorized) watches from heavyweights like Zenith, Rolex and Patek Philippe via his company, Bamford Watch Department. His latest watch brand, Bamford London, has been building watches from scratch for a couple of years now and had an unusual start. There are now two main collections with several variants and collaborations, and they exist alongside his famous customizations of outside brands. The Commando GMT and Predator GMT add new colourways to the existing GMT line, but the changes are visually striking. Let’s take a closer look.
A customizer first
It all started with a Rolex Daytona George received on his 18th birthday. A bit dismayed that many at a dinner party had the same watch, he decided to customize his Daytona with a DLC (Diamond-Like Carbon) coating via the family business. The silver steel was now stark black and became an instant attention-getter. While vacationing in the south of France, he ended up with 25 orders before returning home and the rest is history. Customization has its downsides, however, as it can void most warranties. Rolex, for example, almost never tolerates such alterations.
Bamford Watch Department was nevertheless a huge success, which caught the eye of Jean Claude Biver, President of LVMH’s watchmaking division (he stepped down in 2018). Starting in 2017, Bamford became the official “customizer” for TAG Heuer, Zenith and Bulgari, bringing his vision and design prowess to LVMH without sacrificing warranties.
Launching his brand
Bamford London began in 2017 as a “rental car” business of sorts. The original Bamford Mayfair, a solid yet affordable quartz watch, was produced as a loaner while customers’ watches were being serviced. Many wanted to hang onto the watches afterwards, however, and a new watch brand emerged. The watch was intriguing from the start with an asymmetrical case, proprietary MGTC coating, sapphire crystal and 100-meter water resistance. An accessible price of GBP 425 made it a winner. A more mature line followed with the GMT collection, trading quartz for a Sellita automatic with a GMT function.
The new Bamford London Commando GMT and Predator GMT
The latest Bamford London’s creations are all about instrumental look, as the names Commando GMT and Predator GMT will let you imagine. These new models add military-inspired army green and all-black stealth aesthetic to the line.
The stainless steel cushion case has a 40mm diameter and height of 11.2mm. It balances a mix of retro and modern design elements with a classic case and contemporary dial. A crown at 10 o’clock rotates an internal bezel for the GMT function, giving it a 1970s dive watch vibe. The bezel has 24-hour Arabic numerals printed in two-hour increments with the top half darker than the bottom (for day and night). A sapphire crystal with an anti-reflective coating covers the dial and the case back is solid steel, and all watches are water-resistant to 100 meters.
The dial is uncluttered with minimal printing and a date window at 3 o’clock – a mandatory element of GMT watches. The hour and minute hands are black with white Super-LumiNova coating the majority, along with the indices and triangular tip the of the GMT hand. The Commando GMT has an army green dial and black and green internal bezel, housed in either a silver or black case. The Predator GMT is blacked out with a black dial, black and dark grey internal bezel and black case.
The movement is a big step up from the quartz Mayfair, now a Sellita SW330-1 automatic (alternative to the ETA 2893-2). It features 25 jewels, beats at 28,800vph (4Hz) with a 42-hour power reserve. Functions include central hours, minutes, seconds, GMT and quick-set date. Although concealed under the steel case back, many stock calibres are decorated with perlage and Côtes de Genève on the rotor. Both models come with stainless steel link bracelets in either silver or black to match the case. The bracelets feature quick-release levers, although they’re such a good match I personally wouldn’t change them.
Availability and price
The new Bamford London Commando GMT and Predator GMT come at a competitive and accessible price of GBP 1,100. They will only be available at Bamford’s website here, via online orders.