Garrick English Watchmakers – the evolution of a watch brand
The creation of a new watch brand is not for the faint-hearted. The journey can prove arduous and tenacity is required for any horological dream to come to fruition. Thankfully, the team at Garrick is a determined bunch and the final version of its new timepiece, sm301, is now complete.
The evolution of the watch started with the movement. Whilst the desire of Garrick was to make a British watch, the commercial obstacles in making a fully in-house movement in Blighty meant that using an existing Swiss movement was inevitable.
An early decision was taken to use a vintage Unitas 6498.1 as a base movement, selected for its reliable operation. The hand-wound movement leant itself to modification and has proved to be the perfect choice.
The aspiration was always to produce a watch with much-added value taking place in Britain. Garrick set out to imbue its sm301 model with many impressive details in order to denote a degree of individuality and demonstrate the expertise of its skilled watchmakers. The first stage was to produce an in-house free sprung balance.
Often on mass produced watches, an index adjuster is used to effectively adjust the rate at which the balance oscillates. Whilst this approach lends itself to the mass production of movements, it does disturb the isochronism of the balance spring. Moreover, the rate is more susceptible to change, depending on the position the watch is held.
Garrick felt it could do better. By creating a free sprung balance, the length of the balance spring is fixed and the rate is adjusted by tightening or loosening the screws affixed to the balance wheel. The result is that the balance spring breathes better and confers greater accuracy.
However, Garrick wanted to go beyond this, creating its own in-house balance wheel, designed with the screws affixed in-board to the spokes of the wheel, mitigating the disruption to the airflow.
Trial results have vindicated the decision to adopt this approach by delivering superb accuracy. Nevertheless, with a desire to continuously improve, the design of the balance wheel has evolved further, with the latest version featuring rounded internal angles making it simpler to produce.
The new and final version of the free sprung balance is shown on the right.
Garrick, keen to encompass traditional watchmaking craftsmanship, decided very early in the product development phase to include thermally blued screws on the sm301. The thermal bluing enhances corrosion resistance and, most pertinently, delivers an exquisite regal hue which is exceptionally beautiful.
Where many modern movements shroud the gear train and balance with oversized bridges, Garrick has created its own open-worked bridges, allowing the wearer to see more of the movement parts. The outcome is a wondrous horological vista which should delight admirers of fine watchmaking.
Garrick makes its own dial blanks. A brass disc is turned on a lathe, engraved and then subsequently enamelled. The enamelling is out-sourced to a local craftsman, working in his own home-based studio. Indeed, this latter aspect is part of the ethos of Garrick, seeking to source materials and skills locally wherever possible. Garrick also offers a rhodium plated or black painted dial.
The three-part construction of the dial delivers a delightful depth with raised stainless steel chapter rings mounted on steel pillars.
The hour and minute hands are rhodium plated and sourced from Switzerland. Blued versions of the hands are thermally treated in the Garrick workshop granting a sumptuous purplish-blue shade.
The small seconds hand is made from aluminium within the UK and then anodised.
The case of the sm301 is manufactured in the UK. It has always been a desire of Garrick to use a British case manufacturer. Although it proved difficult to find a company able to supply cases of suitable quality, Garrick persevered and eventually found a capable firm located nearby.
The production of the case necessitates the use of both CNC machines and spark erosion techniques. The most difficult aspect of case manufacture is creating the space between the lugs. In particular, the generation of seamless lines between the straight edge of the lugs and the curving section of the case proved incredibly challenging.
Once the case is received by Garrick it is hand finished by its own personnel.
The stylish, onion-shaped crown is hand turned on a lathe. Grooves are then imparted to its surface by hand. The significant quotient of hand crafting results in each crown having its own unique character, proving a refreshing alternative to mass-produced items.
imilar to other British watch brands, Garrick is proud of its origins. Wherever possible it strives to source components from British manufacturers, but in some cases works with Swiss and German companies too.
Garrick does not claim to manufacture every component in-house, but endeavours to add as much value as it can whilst continuing to produce a fine watch which delivers superb value for money. With the first models soon scheduled for completion, it would seem Garrick has realised its aspirations and the first leg of its journey is virtually complete.
The Shaftesbury sm301 movement. Rhodium plated with free sprung balance.