Although Land Rover’s ‘New’ Defender seems to be gaining some serious traction, demand for original 90 and 110 models shows no sign of waning – in fact, it seems that many ‘Landy’ enthusiasts would rather have a ‘new old one’ than a ‘new new one’.
As a result Somerset-based Arkonik is doing a roaring trade selling its meticulously restored and upgraded 1980s and ’90s versions in the UK after almost a decade of building them primarily for the North American market, to which it has shipped around 300 .
Arkonik was founded in 2007 by engineer Andy Hayes who, after being hospitalised for two months due to a motorcycle accident, recuperated by restoring a beaten-up 1983 110 and driving it around Europe.
He built a second on returning and, after selling it with little effort, realised the potential for a business that would not only restore 1980s and ’90s Land Rovers to better-than-new state but would improve them with contemporary enhancements to make them more practical and pleasurable to use in the modern world.
The back of the steel case is etched with the pattern of its alloy wheels
The plan coincided nicely with the fact that vehicles of 25 years-plus may be imported into North America and Canada as classics without having to meet the latest safety criteria – and, while the Jeep may be the patriotic choice, Land Rovers have long been loved by enthusiasts throughout the continent.
Having enjoyed success sending his restomod creations across the Atlantic, Hayes decided to take advantage of the hype surrounding the new Defender and re-launched Arkonik sales in the UK and Europe last year.
He set the ball rolling by unveiling a comprehensively restored long-wheelbase Defender, ‘B379 UJO’, which is powered by a 6.2-litre Corvette engine and has been luxuriously upgraded inside and out.
It has become a celebrity in Land Rover circles –a fact now marked in a collaboration with Copenhagen-based REC, the watch firm established in 2011 by Jonathan Kamstrup and Christian Mygh to specialise in building timepieces incorporating salvaged components.
To that end, the RNR Arkonik watch is being made in 302 examples, each with an aluminium dial punched from UJO’s old rear door removed during restoration. The chapter ring, small seconds counter and rubber strap are all in a similar hue to the vehicle’s Stratos Blue, the crown protector is based on the look of its radiator grille and the back of the steel case is etched with the pattern of its alloy wheels.
And if you want a matching Arkonik Land Rover to go with it, head to Frome – with around £200,000 to spend.
RNR Arkonik, £1007
There are any number of vintage-look, three-hand watches on the market with black dials and luminous markings, but one occasionally jumps out as being more covetable than the rest. The Recordmaster II is a delightful 40mm revival from the 1950s, which is being made in just 90 examples to mark the 90th anniversary of the Delbana dial name. Never heard of it? It doesn’t do much in the way of marketing – hence, perhaps, the reasonable price. And you still get a decent automatic movement and a sapphire crystal case back.
Delbana Recordmaster II, £700
Former Morgan designer Matthew Humphries has produced a raft of interesting watches since he established MHD in 2014, the latest being the Streamliner. Humphries asked customers to choose a decade as a starting point for a new model, which is why the Streamliner takes inspiration from the 1930s. Neat details include the DLC-treated finned case and chromed hands, while the Miyota mechanical movement offers a power reserve indicator. Just 400 will be available.
MHD Streamliner, £850