For the last few years, we’ve been hearing about the so-called “resurgence” of British watchmaking. Run by passionate Brits with a strong streak of defiance, these small independent brands are (very) slowly but surely gaining a foothold in the market and proving they have what it takes to stick around for a while. One such brand, which we’ve written about several times before on MONOCHROME, is Garrick (you can find all past coverage here.) Today, we’re taking a closer look at the S1, the latest model from the brand, or rather a prototype of it.
If you attended SalonQP this year at the Saatchi Gallery, then you likely already know it was a lacklustre event in comparison to previous years. Not only was it smaller (an entire floor smaller) but it also failed to attract the major brand names like Vacheron Constantin and Jaeger-LeCoultre, which in previous years had interactive booths set up. This seems to be part of a larger trend of big brands not finding regional exhibitions as compelling as they once did – for example, Watches & Wonders in Hong Kong and ViennaTime in Austria have both been cancelled this year due to lack of interest.
As a result, smaller, more intimate events seem to be popping up in their place, with a focus on creating unique experiences for a more hand-picked audience. Sometimes these are hosted by the brands themselves, and sometimes by members clubs whose members not only display a passion for the product but also a capacity and a willingness to buy. One of the latest to emerge in this latter category is The Watchmaker’s Club, which has slowly been taking root in the UK over the last year so.
The Watchmaker’s Club
Describing itself as a new platform, intended to bring watch collectors and industry experts together via intimate, exclusive events and regular social gatherings, The Watchmaker’s Club is the brainchild of David Brailsford, owner of Garrick Watches, and Mark Schwarz, founder of Vault Swiss. Made up of an assortment of watchmakers, independent brands, industry influencers and journalists, it is open to anyone to join and offers a more relaxed way to meet and interact with the people behind some interesting albeit lesser known independent watch brands.
The Club’s inaugural event was the aptly named “The Night Before”, which took place the night before the opening of SalonQP at a private member’s club in London called the Library. In total, 10 different brands attended, including; Andreas Strehler, Christiaan Van der Klaauw, Czapek Genève, Fears, GoS, Moritz Grossmann, Pinion, Garrick and Vault. They were joined by about 150 or so collectors and watch media, as well as a few curious individuals who couldn’t pass up the offer of free night out.
The setting was very, very relaxed, with the brands set up at different tables around the venue with their watches out for everyone to handle, marvel at and learn about. It was here actually that I first got my hands on the new S1 from Garrick, even though it didn’t make its ‘official’ debut until the next night at SalonQP. Admittedly, the large crowd, combined with the relatively small space, made it difficult to really make the most of the experience but all the building blocks were definitely there and there’s no denying it was a lot of fun. I’m sure future events will be even better. Enough about the parties though, let’s get back to talking about the watch!
The Garrick S1 Skeletonized Dial
The first thing to note about the new Garrick S1 I spent some time with is that it’s still only a prototype. That means the case, the dial, the movement, etc. were not entirely finalised before SalonQP and so there will still be some finishing touches to come. For example, the chatons still need to be added, the bezel will reduce in thickness by about 1mm, things like that. That said, the prototype still made for quite an attractive watch and attracted its fair share of attention at both events.
Presented in a steel 42mm case, the S1 actually looks and wears more like 40mm, thanks to smaller, curved lugs and the various polished angles and bevels that create the illusion of a reduced diameter. The finishing of the case itself is quite nice and it’s easy to see the progression from earlier Garrick models. This is because the company is now using custom jigs to finish and polish the cases on both a linishing machine and mop, resulting in a superior finish and a more refined bevelled edge to the cases. The large, knurled crown is easy to operate, and winding the watch feels very nice.
The main attraction, of course, is the dial, which is completely open-worked to reveal the company’s proprietary UT-G01 movement, designed in partnership with watchmaker Andreas Strehler. Time is displayed centrally using Garrick’s signature marine-inspired hands, which are flamed blue and made in Garrick’s workshops. At 10 o’clock there’s a sub-dial showing the running seconds, and at 2 o’clock there’s a power reserve indicator.
Occupying most of the lower half of the dial is the brand’s in-house, free-sprung Trinity balance, the rim of which is made from a special, patented alloy called Sircumet, and which is regulated to +/-3 seconds. Impressively, the gears are also made in-house by master watchmaker Craig Baird. The back of the movement is visible through a sapphire caseback and in the prototype version looks virtually identical to the Portsmouth, complete with a frosted finish. The final version, however, will feature screwed chatons and have a bit of a fancier finish to help set it apart.
Presented on a leather strap, the new Garrick S1 is likely to be priced around GBP 26,000 when it’s finished. According to the brand, only 4 examples will be made each year due to the time it takes to build and finish each piece. Certainly, it won’t appeal to all buyers and I am sure we will have the usual run of comments suggesting that for that kind of money, you could buy something from a more notable and established brand, which is absolutely true. That said, it seems Garrick has found its niche of customers who want to buy high quality, English-made timepieces and so they will happily continue to service that market. For more information, please visit Garrick.co.uk.