Bamford reveals rugged Land Rover watch
Bamford’s collaboration with Land Rover is a meeting of minds, where rugged practicality takes the driving seat
George Bamford, who is 41, began collecting and trading watches while he was still at school. In 2003 his interest in horology led the son of JCB chairman Lord Bamford to establish the Bamford Watch Department, a Mayfair-based business specialising in watch customisation.
It became known for blackening cases and bracelets using a ‘secret’ military-grade coating process and majored on carrying out unauthorised modifications to Rolex models – which gave Bamford the reputation of being something of a horological maverick.
But back in 2017 he went all official, signing a deal with LVMH to become the authorised supplier of customised Zenith watches, a remit that has since expanded to include other brands owned by the luxury goods giant, including TAG Heuer and Bulgari.
Since then Bamford Watch Department (‘BWD’) has become a widely recognised watchmaker in its own right, not least through the long line of models it has created with collaborators ranging from RUF Porsche to Peanuts Worldwide (with whom Bamford has made a series of watches featuring Snoopy).
BWD’s latest partnership returns to the automotive theme beloved of car collector Bamford and, in particular, to a marque with which he admits to being obsessed: Land Rover. In addition to a brace of modern Defenders, Bamford also owns several classics including a military Wolf, a former Royal Navy coastguard support vehicle, a 101 Forward Control model and even a fully restored Series II fire truck.
The watch project with Land Rover was first conceived in 2019 before the launch of the new Defender, but was then stalled by Covid.
All was finally revealed, however, towards the end of 2022 when the wraps came off the LR001, an automatic three-hand watch in an ultra-robust titanium case with built-in fixed lugs and a range of eco-friendly plant-based straps in black, navy blue and light or dark tan.
Drawing on the Defender’s ‘reductive’ design codes, the watch is a pleasantly no-frills affair with a substantial weight that suggests it should be more than up to the knocks and scrapes of an adventurous Land Rover lifestyle.
The dial is ultra-practical, too, being a ‘sandwich’ effort featuring cut-out markers that glow in the dark thanks to a luminous disc below. A screw-down back gives 100 metres of water resistance, carries the only Land Rover logo on the watch and conceals a tough Sellita SW200 shock-protected movement.
Land Rover has collaborated with watch brands before but the Bamford effort could be the best yet – the only downside being that just 100 examples of the LR001 will be made.
We’re assured, however, that variations on the theme are already in the pipeline.
Land Rover Bamford LR001, £1350. bamfordlondon
French horologist Louis Moinet invented the chronograph way back in 1816, so it’s no surprise that the modern-day brand is known for its designs based around the stopwatch complication. Its latest is the Time to Race, which prominently displays the 311-part mechanism beneath a domed sapphire crystal. Each watch is said to be unique in that the dial features a roundel designed to carry the buyer’s ‘lucky number’ while the tachymeter scale and chronograph hands can be finished in Racing Green, Rosso Corsa or French Racing Blue – with rubber straps to match.
Louis Moinet Time to Race , £32,750 (approx). louismoinet.com
US hypercar manufacturer Hennessey has teamed up with watch customising house Skeleton Concept to create this special driver’s chronograph based on the guts of a Rolex Cosmograph Daytona. Skeleton Concept substitutes the conventional case for a sapphire crystal version and replaces the bezel with one made from the same carbon fibre composite as the chassis of the Venom F5 car. Modifying a Rolex invalidates its warranty but Hennessey offers its own five-year guarantee. Phew!
Hennessey Venom F5 Chronograph, £170,000. hennesseyperformance.com
Precision is written by renowned luxury goods specialist Simon de Burton