In an industry ruled by Swiss manufactures (and a bit by Germans), Garrick is somehow a free electron. They produces watches in England – and we’re not talking of just assembling watches in England, but manufacturing (not all) but a large amount of parts in England, which is kind of special. Then, instead of only having Swiss movements, Garrick modifies some of these movements with their own free-sprung balance or own bridges, like they did on the Shaftesbury SM301. Finally, they have their own design and an interesting quality / price ratio. And they have done it again, with a new watch, the Garrick Norfolk, inspired by maritime instruments.
The overall look of the new Garrick Norfolk is clearly inspired by old marine chronometers, with this large white dial, the long blued hands and a proud nameplate. Freelance designer Michael Horlbeck, responsible for the visuals of the Norfolk, clearly gave to it a sort of antique design, with key elements reminiscent of these old clocks that made the fame of English watchmakers. However, he also managed to keep the same spirit than the two previous watches introduced by Garrick, the Shaftesbury SM301 and the Hoxton SM302 and the right dose of technicality for the modernity.
David Brailsford, the Founder of Garrick Watches, is fully transparent about the provenance of the parts that he uses to create his watches, about the location where these parts are finished and assembled and by which company they are made (if not made in-house), as we’ve seen in our recent interview with him (David is also a watch-lover, an ambassador of British watchmaking and a long-time collector, as we’ve seen in an episode of the Collector’s Series). Here, we know the designer but what we also know is that the Garrick Norfolk features a fired enamel dial (which is already a very good point), which is made entirely in-house, using traditional methods (which is even better). Having the watch in the flesh and you’ll see this specific, milky aspect of the enamel, with minor imperfections, something that participates to the perceived quality and to the antique feel. These dials are made from silver and an enamel coating is applied to the front and back of the dial, to prevent warping.
This dial is rather simple and only sports a thin, black minute track. However, it is enliven by two features: a small second at 9, with the same hand design as the hours / minutes and an applied metallic and brushed track made, just like the large nameplate between 3 and 6, proudly sporting the name of the brand. The main originality comes from the hands, with a rather unusual but quite pleasant anchor shape. These “maritime hands” are also produced in-house and thermally blued – again a traditional feature of fine watchmaking. The Garrick Norfolk comes with a 42mm case made of stainless steel (with possibility to have it gold plated). The case, like most of the visual elements of this watch, is crafted and finished in England. It can be featured with or without an exhibition caseback, in order to see (or not) the movement – something that will have an incidence on the level of finishing of this movement.
No big deal here in terms of mechanics, just a good-old and reliable Unitas 6497, a large manually wound calibre with 42 hours of power reserve, running at a slow frequency of 18,000 vph – something that also allows to have reasonable prices and in the end, this movement rather fits the idea of the watch. If you choose the sapphire caseback option, you’ll see a specific finishing of the bridges (finishing and assembly of the movement are also done in-house, in England): frosted bridges, gold plated, slightly chamfered angles, screwed balance wheel and thermally blued screws. It’s not super-high-end watchmaking of course but it is sufficient to make most of the watch enthusiasts happy.
The Garrick Norfolk is, in the end, quite interesting – and for several reasons. First, it’s always interesting to see that watches can be produced, even if not entirely, in another country than Switzerland. Then, the recent revival of English / British watchmaking is good news, knowing the rich history and the influences of Brits on modern watchmaking. Of course you can think of Roger W. Smith and his 6 digits watches but it’s also good to see brands with reasonable prices, good overall quality and inspired design being part of this revival. Concerning the Garrick Norfolk itself, the overall quality is interesting and the price – £2,295 with plain caseback and £2,795 with exhibition caseback and better finished movement – is also attractive, especially considering the enamel dial and these quite cool hands.