If I’m being honest, the new Garrick S2 Central Seconds is not a watch I would normally go for. I know that’s a strange way to start a review but it’s the truth. For a start, it’s not really my style of watch. I prefer something a little more modern looking. Plus, I’ve handled and worn just about every previous Garrick model made. And while I admire the craftsmanship and dedication that goes into each piece – not to mention the lion heart of company founder David Brailsford – none have really “spoken” to me. After spending a week with this watch on my wrist though, I’m starting to sing a different tune. This is easily Garrick’s best work yet. It’s obvious the small British watchmaker has been listening to feedback from its customers and has really worked hard to take things to the next level. Don’t take my word for it though. Read the review and make up your own mind.
A Brief Recap
By now, most readers should at least be familiar with the name Garrick Watches. After all, we have written about every model from the brand since its inception. And we recently ran an interview with company founder, David Brailsford. Based in Norwich, England, this small outfit is on a mission to help restore British watchmaking to its former glory. Or at least put it firmly back on the map. A certain Roger Smith has been doing a fine job of that for many years, but he can’t carry the burden alone.
Anyone who’s had anything to do with Garrick before, or met Brailsford for that matter, will tell you that this is a company driven by passion; they are genuinely trying to create a high-quality product that really shows attention has been paid to the finer details. It’s been a long journey, with Garrick receiving more than its fair share of criticism along the way. To their credit, however, the small team has remained resilient, even in the face of a very challenging local market. More importantly, they have been showing improvement with each and every watch.
Which brings us to the new S2 Central Seconds, the company’s fifth watch and the first to use a central sweep seconds display. It may only be a simple three-hander, but this is a watch – that in my opinion, at least – deserves careful and studied attention. There’s the obvious drawcard of the eye-catching engine-turned dial (more on that in a minute). Yet I found it was the finer touches that had me constantly looking down at my wrist all week. I’ve tried to capture as many of them as possible throughout this review to hopefully give you an idea of what I’m talking about. So, let’s get to it.
As part of its manufacturing capabilities, Garrick does have the capacity to make cases in-house from scratch. But this is largely reserved for bespoke models for private clients, due to the time and considerable resources required to manufacture at scale. So, for the S2, the company works with a local engineering company to machine the parts in the rough to their specification. The parts are then finished by hand in the Garrick workshop in Norwich prior to assembly.
Made from 904L steel and measuring 42mm in diameter by 10mm high, the thin bezel and the tops of the lugs are highly polished, while the casebands are grained using a linishing machine. Lastly, the space in between the lugs is frosted. The finishing is done largely by hand and I have to say the quality is readily apparent. I also found the watch quite comfortable to wear thanks to the curved lugs, and surprisingly versatile – It might seem thick in the photos but measures a reasonable 10mm in height. Completing the case is a fluted onion crown.
Dial & Hands
The main talking point of the S2 is obviously the engine-turned dial. This is something you normally only find on really high-end Swiss watches, from companies like Breguet. Don’t let the fact that this one is made in-house by a small British manufacturer fool you though. It’s the real deal. In fact, at the risk of sounding overly enthusiastic, I have to say it is really quite spectacular.
According to Garrick, it takes around 4 – 5 days to make a single dial and the process is largely done by hand. The company was kind enough to provide us with a detailed breakdown of all the steps involved:
- The dial is first machined from brass;
- The skeletonised chapter ring is cut;
- The chapter ring is temporarily mounted on a brass dial and used as a template for drilling the mounting holes with a jig borer;
- The chapter ring is removed and hand finished using ultra-thin watchmakers’ files to remove burrs;
- The chapter ring is heat blued on a bed of copper filings;
- The dial is then turned on a rose cutting lathe;
- The engine-turned section of the dial is masked and the raised blank chapter ring area is then grained or frosted;
- The dial is then rhodium or gold plated;
- Lastly, the chapter ring is mounted to the dial.
If you read all the steps closely, you will already know that the dial is available with either a rhodium or gold-plated finish. The dial of the former – which is the one I had for review – is treated on three separate occasions in order to achieve an attractive shade of dark grey, although its colour really does vary depending on how the light hits. That said, the beauty of Garrick being a small manufacturer able to do most of the work in-house, is that clients can choose from a range of dial motifs and colours. Meaning you can create a unique model personalised to your tastes.
The same can be said for the hands, which are also made in-house and are heat blued and bevelled by hand. I’m not sure I’ve done a great job of capturing just how nice the hands are in the photos, but they are a big part of the reason I spent so much time staring at the dial. The production models use what Garrick calls lancine hands, but again there are a choice of styles available if you want something bespoke.
The heat-blued, skeletonised chapter ring is also a nice touch and really helps tie the whole dial together. According to Brailsford, it’s also one of the most difficult things to make on the dial. Its size combined with its thinness makes it a nightmare to blue in a consistent shade, and then there’s the challenge of attaching it to the dial without damaging it. Well worth the time and effort though.
At six o’clock there is a large cut-out to allow the brand’s free-sprung Trinity balance – which is manufactured and finished in-house – to be on full display. Free-sprung refers to the fact that the length of the balance spring is fixed, and so instead of using an index adjuster, the rate at which the balance oscillates is adjusted by tightening or loosening the screws affixed to the balance wheel. This reportedly allows the balance spring to breathe better, resulting in improved accuracy. Hence, Garrick reports a daily tolerance of +/-3 seconds, which is well within the chronometer requirements of the COSC. Although I should note this movement has not been submitted for testing or certification.
The rim of the balance is made from a special, patented alloy called Sircumet, which is anti-magnetic and resistant to salts. It also offers great hardness without the need for heat treatment, which means no distortion. Holding everything in place is a mirror-polished, hand-chamfered balance bridge, which spans the width of the dial cut-out. Again, the hand-finishing here is of a very high standard. In keeping with the notion of absolute customisation, the mainplate visible beneath can be in frosted gold plate or rhodium plate with perlage decoration. The choice is up to the owner.
Inside is the new calibre UT-G03, which is based on the original UT-G01 found in the Portsmouth. For this variation, Garrick has removed the sub seconds and modified the movement to display the seconds centrally instead. Other than that, it is consistent with previous iterations. A manual-winding movement, it offers a max power reserve of around 45 hours.
Visible through a sapphire caseback, the movement has been designed to look stereotypically British and is painstakingly frosted and polished by hand. Assembly and finishing of the movement take place over three days by master watchmaker Craig Baird, a 30-year-veteran of the industry. Simple in its design, it is surprisingly eye-catching, thanks in no small part to the 19 jewels, the thermally blued screws, and the gold chatons, the latter two of which are made in-house.
Several material options are available for the handmade strap, including alligator, calf leather, buffalo and ostrich. All are closed with a 316L stainless steel pin buckle.
Price And Final Thoughts
The Garrick S2 Central Seconds is priced at GBP 12,495 excl. VAT (i.e. outside the EU) and GBP 14,995 incl. VAT (i.e. within the EU). At first glance, that seems like a lot of money, and it is, especially for a relatively simple three-hander from a British brand no less. There are a lot of other options at this price point. That said, you will find few, if any, that offer this level of hand-finishing and customisation. Each watch is handmade to order, and it takes around 8 – 12 weeks to build one from start to finish. Consequently, there is already a six-month waiting list for the S2.
Garrick has never been shy about the fact that it is targeting a niche audience that values high-quality craftsmanship and attention to detail. With the new S2, I think I can say with confidence that their abilities have well and truly caught up with their ambitions. This is a really great looking watch that is comfortable to wear, enjoyable to look at and undeniably distinctive on the wrist. If this is what we can expect from the brand going forward, I think the future might be looking just that little bit brighter for British watchmaking.
Visit www.garrick.co.uk for more information.