England has a long and illustrious history in timekeeping, from Thomas Mudge’s invention of the lever escapement, to John Harrison’s first marine chronometer to modern day heroes like the late George Daniels and his protege (and the man who carries England’s watchmaking torch), Roger Smith. But large-scale production of watches in Old Blighty foundered on the same rocks that wrecked the Swiss industry in the 1970s; the last great British brands, Smiths, Cabot and Precista either went defunct or now exist in name only, mere shadows of their former selves.
But Anglophile watch lovers needn’t despair. In recent years there has been a renaissance of British watchmaking, resulting in stellar timepieces with distinctive style and high quality — fine alternatives to the offerings from the Continent or the Far East.
The three watch companies at the vanguard of this British renaissance — Bremont, Christopher Ward and Schofield — represent very different approaches, price points and designs. Yet they share one thing: a distinctively British take on the wristwatch. We spent some time with each to establish a solid cross section of timepieces from across the pond. Put the kettle on and settle in for our impressions.