Piers Berry and Pinion
The world of watches can be a slippery slope. Your first timepiece is never your last, no matter how loudly logic yells that you only need the one – and once you have your second you’re already lost. For some guys that fall into obsession keads to building a never-ending collection of watches; for Piers Berry it meant creating an entirely new watch brand: Pinion.
Most people with their own digital agency and a client like Universal Studios would consider themselves in a pretty good position, especially when you’re at the forefront in 2002. But ‘and then he kept on doing what he was doing’ doesn’t make for an interesting story – and this story’s genesis happened when Piers caught sight of a friend’s wrist and a particular Florentine watchmaker.
The Panerai was a different animal from the digital watches he’d grown up with and didn’t have the yuppy hangups of Rolex. He saved up, got himself a vintage model and, as these things go, one watch wasn’t enough – which brought him to Bell & Ross.
By this point Piers was well and truly lost. He was running a Bell & Ross forum before creating the official (though now unfortunately defunct) Br-avo.com and ended up working with the brand themselves alongside the inimitably bearded industry vet Simon Cudd.
If I say that Piers, a guy very much into his watches, lived in Henley, you could probably work out the next couple of steps from there. Hell, he even knew Bremont’s Nick English through the school both their kids went to, so it was pretty much inevitable Piers would soon get involved with the Henley-based brand.
Alongside some photography, Piers gave Bremont the Bell & Ross treatment (not DLC) and started the Alt1tude forum. See what he did with the name there? Well, the forum was a huge success, enough that it persuaded the watch company to release a limited edition for forum members, one that Piers had a hand in the design of. 30 were made, 30 were sold.
This was the final straw. It was more than just indulging in his love of watches; this was the chance to create his perfect watch. And so, he sold his digital agency shares, took the plunge and in 2013 founded Pinion.
The name was one of the first things to come about – a small yet vitally important part was a nice allegory for what Piers wanted Pinion to become. Nothing too lofty or excessively romantic- he just wanted to create a no-nonsense brand where the pieces speak for themselves, at a price he was comfortable with.
Well, five years on and it seems that he jumped ship straight into a life raft. Pinion’s collection of solid, well-designed, well-made pieces seems straight out of Piers’ wishlist.
At one end of the spectrum is the Revival, a very unusual watch in that is uses new vintage movements – specifically the Valjoux 7734 from the 1960s. Think of it in the same way as all those new classic cars; it combines original components with modern engineering and style for something that’s the best of both.
At the other end of the scale is the Atom, so-called for it’s diminutive 41mm stature and price tag to match. It’s fiercely Pinion, with exceptional finishes and a reliable movement (a Miyota 9015) that balances accessibility with the kind of detail you can expect from a watch five times it’s price. Granted, at £790 that’s not hard.
The Axis and Pure sit in the middle, automatic and hand-wound respectively and round off Pinion’s horological offering. There’s no over the top story behind the pieces, no long and overly-eloquent explanations of the themes, philosophies and emotions behind every cog and spring. It’s easy to see elements of Panerai, Bell & Ross and Bremont in the watches of course, but just a little; Pinion is its own distinct entity.
At the centre of it all is Piers, a guy who tentatively explored the rabbit hole of watch collecting, got sucked right into Wonderland and is now inviting plenty more collectors to the tea party. He’s still as obsessed as ever of course, just don’t expect to see him wearing anything but a Pinion nowadays.