Garrick Watches – From Past To Portsmouth
Garrick: From Past to Portsmouth
Garrick’s come a long way in the past few years. The small British brand is one of the few purely British brands, to an almost obsessive degree. Yet while that emphasis on English watchmaking has always been the case, Garrick hasn’t always been as (rightly) self-assured as it is now. In fact, it’s been a long journey to this point.
When watch collector and serial obsessive Dave Brailsford first formulated Garrick, all he really cared about was making sure that it was as purely homegrown as it said. God knows there were too many watchmakers that weren’t at that point. It’s a good ethos to have, of course, nobody would say otherwise. Putting it into practice? That’s the hard part.
Now, I’m one of the very few people out there that thinks Garrick hit the nail on the head with their first piece. The Shaftesbury was a wonderfully clean, clear design with the kind of finishing you’d expect from a traditionalist atelier. There was the chance to anodize the aluminium dial to any colour you wanted, and the movement was impeccable.
Yet it never really caught on. As I said, I loved it, but if I had to say why it skated under the radar it would be that it didn’t stand out. When launching a new brand, you can’t just have a great philosophy; you have to have a style that’s all your own. That’s especially true in watchmaking where the vast majority of timepieces are interchangeable save for the name on the dial.
The Shaftesbury, in other words, was too clean and clear. Garrick needed a mission statement, a piece that brought the mountain to Mohammad, sat him down and made him admire every hand-crafted inch of it. That came in the form of the Portsmouth.
What’s more British than the country’s maritime history? Even in watchmaking, it’s historically where we excel, yet while there’s plenty devoted to our military and aviation history, our navy gets left out of the limelight. Not so in the anchor-handed, marine chronometer-inspired watch, Garrick created.
Where the Shaftesbury failed to really grab people, the Portsmouth never let’s go. The open balance, oversized, fluted crown, the guilloche finishing on the newer versions, everything about it shows more flair, more ingenuity of design than ever before. It also helps show just what goes into a Garrick watch.
Garrick’s watches are finished in-house and, while that’s not saying too much for the Shaftesbury, in the case of the Portsmouth that’s staggering. The blued steel, intricate guilloche, engine-turned finishing on the movement… there’s a lot there that most watchmakers just wouldn’t consider doing in-house, let alone setting up one of the finest workshops in the country to do so.
The movement too is in-house, which is why the Portsmouth makes such a big deal of showing it off. If you’d spent so long developing a unique calibre, you’d want to do the same. Hell, given how much I’d want to shout about it the Portsmouth is positively restrained.
In short, the Portsmouth illustrates everything Garrick is capable of, from building an exceptional movement to finishing the case. Most importantly though – and the vital bottom line for any timepiece – it’s also an incredibly handsome watch.