I’ve said it many times over the years – dive watches are a dime a dozen. Established brands and microbrands alike have already mastered the basics, so standing out in a very crowded field is certainly a challenge. William Wood has found a unique angle with The Red Watch that pays homage to the British fire service and consequently the founder’s late grandfather, William Wood himself, a 25-year fire service veteran. The London-based microbrand focuses on sustainability by upcycling old fire helmets and hoses, and it all comes together in a unique and accessible timepiece.
The brushed stainless steel case is 41mm in diameter and 16mm in height, contemporary yet manageable for daily wear, and water-resistance is 100 metres. The rotating red bezel has Arabic numerals at 20, 30, 40 and 50 minutes, skipping 10 for the 15-minute scale. The 12 o’clock dot marker is filled with Super-LumiNova. The dial is covered by a double domed sapphire crystal with an anti-reflective coating and blue tint, while the exhibition caseback displays either an ETA or Seiko automatic movement. The crown has machined slots to form a relaxed knurled pattern and there’s a brass inset from a 1920’s British firefighter’s helmet. This casting is done in London’s jewellery district of Hatton Garden with an engraving of William Wood’s firefighter helmet logo.
The domed black dial is loaded with references to early 20th-century British firefighting. The double-line index at 12 o’clock represents the markings on the collar of a Crew Manager. A chequered pattern spanning the outermost perimeter is identical to what was painted on the side of British fire engines. The brand’s vintage firefighter helmet logo sits at the top, while the lollipop seconds hand resembles the chime from a fire engine bell. The indices are cut-outs with an underlying layer painted with Super-LumiNova. The hour, minute and seconds hands have Super-LumiNova inserts as well. A date window sits at 3 o’clock.
There are two movement options available, an ETA 2824-2 or Seiko NH35, allowing for two different price points. For our photos, we had the ETA version. Both are automatic and among the most proven and ubiquitous workhorses in the accessible market. The ETA 2824-2 has 25 jewels, beats at 28,800vph (4Hz) with a 38-hour power reserve, while the Seiko NH35 has 24 jewels, beats at a slower 21,600vph (3Hz) with a 41-hour power reserve. Both have central hours, minutes and seconds, and a date at 3 o’clock. You’ll pay GBP 300 more for the Swiss option, but both are very reliable, shock-resistant and accurate.
There are several 20mm strap options, including a brushed stainless steel bracelet with deployment clasp, NATO and black rubber, but the most interesting are the upcycled fire hose straps. These are produced from Angus Duraline British fire hose rubber and rumour has it that you can still smell the smokiness in the material. Three fire hose colour options are red, yellow and military green, and come with quick-release levers. The others have exposed spring bar ends for easy removal with a supplied tool.
The Red Watch from William Wood is limited to 250 pieces with your specific number engraved on the back. Prices start at GBP 695 for the Seiko movement and firehouse strap, and GBP 995 for the ETA movement. Four bezel and three dial colours are also available, providing a lot of customization options when ordering. All watches come with a three-year warranty and deliveries begin in August. For more information and to place an order, visit William Wood’s website.