Introducing William Wood Watches
William Wood Watches
William Wood Watches – A startup success story.
There’s no more dangerous job than firefighting. I couldn’t do it, and for more than the necessary upper body strength. As the Australian bushfires earlier in the year illustrated, roaring heat can cover vast swathes of land without much to stop it. Firefighters are our first and in many cases only line of defence and they deserve every bit of recognition they can get – including in the world of watches.
When the bushfires were raging, Time & Tide ran an auction along the lines of Only Watch to raise relief money for those affected. It was a fantastic idea and raised an impressive total. Among the many participants was one for whom the cause was close to the heart: William Wood.
A British start-up success story, William Wood founder Jonny Garrett made a splash back in 2018, winning Esquire’s Self-Made Entrepreneur of the Year 2018. It’s been all upwards since then and in just a couple of short years William Wood has become an established British watch brand. But to understand why, you need to look back in time a little.
William Wood the man was a British firefighter and Garrett’s grandfather. He won numerous medals for bravery, including the Certificate of Merit when he and 3 fellow firefighters saved five young children for a blaze. You know, the kind of guy worth commemorating.
It’s this legacy that lies behind William Wood watches. In the case of the Chivalrous collection that meant a caseback set with metal from an old brass firefighter helmet; in more recent pieces, the heritage is obvious in the integrated straps, which are made from upcycled fire hose. You can clearly see the wear, tear and unique markings of the working equipment; you can almost smell the ash.
The latest incarnation of the William Wood concept is the Valiant (yes, the names are a little on the nose), a nicely weighty stainless steel piece equipped with a Seiko automatic movement – or if you’re feeling like flashing the cash a little more an ETA equivalent – and completed with an unusually jutting crown and a rotating diving bezel. Not that you get many fires underwater.
There are of course a few allusions to the fire service across the Valiant’s design: the rank markings of a crew manager mark 12 o’clock; the chequered markings of a fire ending border the dial and the sweeping second hand imitates a fire bell chime. They’re thankfully subtle touches; these kinds of pieces are often a bit… much.
Available in a variety of bezel/dial combinations, each is also available on either a red or yellow rubber strap, made from fire hose. It’s quickly becoming a William Wood signature, though it might not be for everyone, which is why the Valiant is also available on a stainless steel bracelet or black rubber (both integrated) or a NATO canvas strap in colours complimentary to the watch.
It’s a nice selection of pieces, particularly the red-bezelled version – inventively dubbed ‘The Red Watch’ – on yellow rubber. Personally I’d stick to the standard Seiko movement, but that’s just because I’m cheap and it keeps the price at a very reasonable £499 rather than £699. Either way, that’s a good price – all the better knowing that a portion of the proceeds go to supporting firefighters.
William Wood will be joining us at the Watchmakers Club event on the 24th of June.