England might not instantly leap out as a natural ancestral home for a new watchmaking company, but for Garrick and its owner David Brailsford, the location of its centre of operations was never in question. Watchmaking has a rich historical connection with England, and back when the foundations of the science were being established, the city of London was at the forefront of technical innovation in horology, and it is upon that history that the Garrick Watch company was conceived.
For a new company to cite such horlogic legends as Arnold, Mudge, Harrisson, Graham and Tompion as its inspiration is an eyebrow raising way to make an entrance, but the new Garrick Shaftesbury SM301 watch and the approach to its creation make for an impressive statement of intent.
The Garrick Shaftesbury SM301 is a fresh and confident debut from the young London company, and its style and dial layout are very much in the classic vein, with gentle curvature, crisp legibility and elegant poise all themes throughout. It also has a lot of character too, and that becomes evident almost at once, as the eye begins to soak in subtle nuances such as the undulating decoration around the edge of the dial and the finely drilled slots which constitute the minutes, hours and seconds indices in the two steel chapter rings. The finely brushed rings hover slightly proud of the dial on their pedestals accentuated by three heat-blued screws, they cross paths either side of the 6 o’clock position to pleasant effect, where the dominant hours and minutes ring passes beneath the smaller off-centre seconds.
Dials are offered in a choice between the classy lustre of oven-fired enamel in either black or white, or anodised aluminium, a malleable material which easily lends itself to colouration, thereby opening up a wider á la carte spectrum of personalisation options which Garrick will be happy to accommodate to the customer’s specific requirement.
A handsome, gentleman’s watch, best suited to smart casual attire and above, the Garrick Shaftesbury is offered in a round 42mm polished stainless steel case with sapphire crystals to the front and rear, and a lovely compressed ‘onion’ crown. The sides are straight and tall, but round off gracefully as the bezel yields towards the expanse of glass above the dial. The lugs extend from the outer case profile, yet do not protrude far from the case, falling off abruptly at the tips. The buffed steel spear-tip hands are simple yet wholly complementary to the Shaftesbury’s distinguished demeanour.
Flip it over to reveal the rear detail and the Shaftesbury impresses with an almost total vista of the Unitas 6498 NOS manual winding calibre which beats within. Garrick have taken this trusty 1950’s movement, favoured by among others Panerai and TAG Heuer in the past, and reduced it to its base components before gold plating and then reassembling using Garrick bridges, Cotes de Geneve stripes and their very own free sprung balance. A narrow squared lip around the edge of the caseback means that the entire spectacle can be appreciated without being obstructed with an overly intrusive rear bezel.
The Garrick Shaftesbury SM301 is presented on leather straps only, although the choice again is wide and varied. A tang buckle secures the watch to the wrist.
Priced at £3,950 / € 5,350 Euro, it surely comes in at a very attractive price point for such exclusivity, and it is clear that every aspect of this fine watch has been carefully considered, even down to the cost, because with most of its peers costing a lot more, Garrick believe that while it’s all fair and good to sell a watch for £10,000, that kind of investment requires faith in a brand, and that faith takes time to cultivate. Another view is that there are few timepieces which represent small scale watchmaking available at that kind of money, so there again Garrick have another USP.
With the Shaftesbury, Garrick have laid down a notable marker, and one which symbolises a brand which has its heart in the right place as it consolidates. The watch is refined, beautifully finished and earnestly constructed in England, and of course, where possible in-house.