Garrick Watchmakers – high-end watches aren’t just made in Switzerland.
Good watches come from Switzerland. Everyone knows that; they’re as Swiss as triangles of Toblerone dunked in Gruyere fondue, right? Well, in the same way not every car buyer wants Rolls- Royce, not every watchmaker worth the name calls the Alps home.
Sure, there are a good number of very good watch brands in Britain; there are even some in the States if you’d believe it. But a genuine manufacture, blueing screws and coiling springs? That’s a different matter entirely. There are a comparatively scarce few of them in the world after all. Well, one of that few just so happens to be on your doorstep.
Garrick Watchmakers may be quiet when it comes to placing adverts in magazines or splashing their timepieces across billboards, but they’ve certainly been making themselves known in collectors’ circles – and if the world were put to rights, would be known by a great many more besides.
Everything you imagine you’d get from the big old Swiss maisons – your Breguets, Vacherons and what have you – you can find in some respect at Garrick. Despite their Norfolk workshop being miniscule in comparison to the giants of Le Valle de Joux, you can see precisely the same level of exquisite finishing, attention to detail and sheer craftsmanship in their watches.
Take the Portsmouth, Garrick’s flagship watch, as an example. In case the name didn’t make it obvious enough, the Portsmouth is inspired by Britain’s maritime history, an aspect visible throughout its design. Most obviously that’s in the hands with their anchor-shaped tails and the beautiful fluted crown; more subtly it’s how the Portsmouth aesthetically falls in line with the UK’s ancient tradition of marine chronometers.
In case you need a horological history lesson, before Switzerland began dominating the timekeeping world, we here were responsible for the most accurate clocks in the world. So accurate in fact, that we were the first to allow navigation via latitude and longitude. Sure, that died out decades back, if not longer, but Garrick is set to claw at least a little bit of that watchmaking respect back.
The most obvious allusion to marine chronometers in the Portsmouth is its open balance wheel. This is the heart of the watch and if you look at old ship clocks, you’ll see the same thing – just considerably bigger. Here it’s the focal point, complete with a striking bridge for the industrial touch of a shipyard.
Design isn’t everything of course; fortunately, Garrick is a voracious advocate of in-house movements. In real terms, in-house just means exclusive, but Garrick takes it one step further by building as much of the movement as they can themselves. It’s an unnecessary step on a global scale, but when you’re a campaigner for traditional British craftsmanship, anything else is unacceptable.
It also means that they’re beholden to no-one, which means no compromise, whether that’s in their obsessive finishing or off-kilter designs like the openworked – and intensely contemporary – S1. It also means that if there’s a particular colour or finish you’re after, they’re generally happy to oblige.
Don’t believe me? Go and ask them for yourself. Unlike most of the big brands in general, they’re entirely transparent. Rather than wondering what they’re doing behind closed doors, you can just go and see it for yourself.
In fact, rock up to 2 Fletcher Way, Weston Road in Norwich and you’ll be met with a cup of tea rather than a barricade. Or a beer – though I’ll warn you now, it’s never just one. Still, it’ll be hard to regret waking up in the morning if it involves having a Garrick on your wrist.