1 March 2024

The unstoppable rise of British Watch Brands

The last twenty years have seen an extraordinary flourishing of new watch brands based in Britain. This has been met with an ever-increasing wave of demand from watch enthusiasts as they jump at the chance to buy great timepieces from companies based in the UK. The founders, designers, and sources of inspiration often come from local themes.

The most famous of this explosion of British watch brands is Bremont, a success story founded by two brothers and based in Henley-on-Thames in Oxfordshire. Their combination of storytelling based on British military aircraft, limited editions based on icons from British History, and selling unique designs to military units saw them grow to sell 10,000 watches a year in under 15 years. There are now many other military and aviation-inspired brands from Britain offering a huge variety of timepieces to watch lovers at a range of price points.
Two bronze cased watches from Bremont with green adn blue dials, clear numerals and date windows on a brown and blue strap.
Two watches from the very popular Bremont Armed Forces Range. Both have bronze Cases.

Another large brand, who print every dial and assemble all their watches in South London, is Mr. Jones Watches. These quirky design-led watches are loved by fans the world over for their unique ways of telling the time. As Founder Crispin Jones said to us at our event at their store, “The main requirement from a designer is that it’s a non-obvious way of telling the time”.

The Ricochet watch from Mr. Jones Watches, with the time displayed in an old pinball machine.

Focussing on Britain’s long history of watchmaking, during which the country led the world from the 1700s to the late 19th century in innovation and mass market production, some British brands produce heritage inspired timepieces. Led by just their 4th Managing Director, Nicholas Bowman-Scargill, Fears Watches from Bristol have spent the last 8 years resurrecting a brand that once exported watches across the British Empire. Their simple Dress watches use heritage inspired design to create modern classics. We’ll be running a fascinating Event Series for members with this company shortly, so keep your eyes peeled for that!

A Limited Edition Fears Brunswick made for retailer James Porter & Son

Continuing Britain’s heritage in very high end luxury watchmaking, companies such as Roger Smith on the Isle of Man, Charles Frodsham in London and Rebecca and Craig Struthers in the Midlands are making hand crafted timepieces from scratch. We recently published a Blog Post on Roger Smith’s career and look forward to holding more events with these masters of watchmaking in future.

The Roger Smith Series 1 available at the British Watchmakers Show in March 2024

Today, the wide range of British Watch companies are represented by the Alliance of British Watch and Clockmakers. This trade organisation exists to promote the work of all of their members and hosts online events as well as a large watch show in London. This year it’s taking place on March 9th. The Watch Collectors’ Club will be in attendance and we’re hosting an Afterparty at a pub nearby. You can find all the details here. We’re sure this show will be a great chance for attendees to learn more about British watch design and watch making.

The Watch Collectors’ Club are great supporters of British Watch Brands and love to help our members learn more about interesting young companies working hard to build a new watch industry in the UK. We’re hosting our own British Watch Show in Manchester in November, an HQ visit with Marloe Watch Company in April, and we’re always keen to run events with brands in London and other areas of the UK. If there is a brand you’d love us to run an event with please let us know!

To find out more about British watchmaking, make sure you keep an eye on our events page and our Blog as we often feature interesting histories of the brands we work with and are always planning the next event where you can get your hands on great British timepieces.

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