Bamford London has built a reputation by customizing watches from top brands like Rolex, Zenith and Patek Philippe, and all of the work is officially authorized. The company even collaborates with outside designers like Black Badger for wild creations like the Zenith El Primero Superconductor. Bamford also has its own line of GMT watches and had a little fun in 2019 with a Popeye-themed limited edition, celebrating the cartoon character’s 90th anniversary. You can’t keep Popeye down and he’s back for 2021, forearms and all, to claim the dial of another limited edition GMT. Character watches were all the rage when I was a kid and this latest Popeye GMT brings a mature Swiss automatic to nostalgic adults.
A few things have changed since the 2019 version, but the cushion case dimensions remain the same. Coming in at 40mm in diameter and 11.2mm in height, it’s right at home on most wrists. The stainless steel has a darker matte black finish this time, a theme seen throughout the watch, with the traditional crown at 3 o’clock and second crown at 10 o’clock for an internal rotating bezel. A sapphire crystal with an anti-reflective coating protects the dial and a solid case back has POPEYE engraved with his classic anchor tattoo. It comes fitted with a 20mm black Cordura strap that replaces the older navy blue and white strap, and water resistance is again 100 metres.
The dial also differs a bit from the original, starting with the colour scheme. The 2021 model trades navy blue and white for a black dial and black and blue internal bezel. Popeye’s overblown arms still act as the hour and minute hands, but this time he’s running to the right (he was facing left before). He never leaves home without his white hat and yellow pipe and brought back the red-tipped GMT hand for a second time zone. A date window sits at 3 o’clock, same as before, but the bold white indices are now half the length for a less crowded dial.
Powering the watch is the same Sellita SW330-2 as seen on Bamford’s standard GMT line, which is an alternative to the ETA 2893-2. It has 25 jewels, beats at 28,800vph (4Hz) with a 42-hour power reserve. Functions include central hours, minutes and GMT hand, and date at 3 o’clock. Although this is a fun, lighthearted piece, it still carries a serious Swiss engine.
Bamford’s 2019 Popeye watch was limited to just 50 pieces, but that doubles to 100 pieces for 2021. It retails for GBP 1,500 (inc. VAT) and is available direct from Bamford London or select global partners. It even comes packaged in a black “spinach” can (but don’t eat it). Popeye first appeared on a New Haven pocket watch in 1934 with animated arms, setting the standard for character watches alongside Waterbury Clock Company’s Mickey Mouse watch. For more information, visit Bamford London’s website.