The name Bamford Watch Department is synonymous with uncompromising style and quality. The business was started in 2003 and has been based around the personalisation of various iconic sports watches from some of the major brands in the watch world.
Published on 06 May 2016
Turn down a side street off one of London's most famous roads, and you'll find yourself on a block that could be nearly anywhere in central London. Rows of identical townhouses in faded brick line both sides of the narrow paved lane, and there is something sleepy about the place. But hidden on an upper floor of one of these nondescript residences sits the Bamford Watch Department.
The Bamford Watch Department is the brainchild of George Bamford, a charming, amiable Londoner with a love of spy novels (which inspired the semi-hidden headquarters) and a very earnest telling of the inspiration for his company. For his eighteenth birthday, George was given a Rolex Daytona and thought he had received the coolest watch on the planet. But quickly, after finding numerous friends with the same Daytona on their wrist, he started thinking of ways to make his watch more "his."
George is passionate about Rolex and historic sport watches, and collects them feverishly. He wanted to work within this framework while also creating something personal and unique for himself (and now his customers). Rather than designing new watches from the ground up, George decided to take the classics he loves so much and customize them.
My parents gave me a Rolex Daytona. I wore it to a dinner party and most of the people around the table had one. So I thought how can I make it feel special?
The foundation of a Bamford watch is the super high quality PVD coating. But on top of this there are numerous options. Dial finish, hours/minutes markers, hand configurations, bezel treatments, and a number of other things can be tweaked and adjusted to suit the customer's preferences. The goal is to deliver a watch that is unique and personal to the wearer. It is important to note that Bamford was indeed the first to customize a Rolex, and is considered to be the highest quality of the now many after-market customizers. No expense is spared. To give you an idea, Bamford is currently working on a special engraved case for a client, and they've hired ex-Purdey engravers to do the work. If you know Purdey, you know what that means - the absolute best.
Entering the discrete Bamford Watch Department headquarters feels like stepping into a Bond novel. Up the plush stairs and through a heavy door is a watch lover's dream lounge. Outfitted with chalk-striped Ralph Lauren furniture, photographs of BWD watches, white orchids, a model Ferrari, decades-old watch books, and even a few bottles of Rolex's Perpetually Yours cologne, the room feels more like your cool best friend's living room than a place to buy watches. And Bamford's love of Rolex is more apparent nowhere than in this room.
During our recent trip to London, George was kind enough to sit down with team Hodinkee to walk us through his latest offerings. Opening the sleek case he brought with him, George showed us a California Dial Submariner, a Sonar Milgauss, a Ghost Milgauss, a Paul Newman-esque Daytona, and a handful of other interesting BWD watches. The quality of every details was extremely high across the board - these are a far cry from most after-market modifications. Very cool indeed.
George gets excited when he talks about meeting clients with interesting ideas (whether they share his particular taste or not), listens more than he speaks, and seems genuinely excited about giving people a product for which they can feel a real sense of ownership. The "I did it for myself and it just happened to become a business" story doesn't sound contrived or fake at all when George tells it, and by the end of our afternoon together, I was already trying to figure out which configuration I might want most.
The wonderful Bamford Watches are sold through our Eden Being boutiques:
- Hotel du Cap-Eden-Roc – Antibes (currently closed)
- Eden Rock – St Barths (+590 590 29 79 99)
- Brenners Park-Hotel & Spa – Baden-Baden (+49 72 21 90 05 50)
If you are interested in commissions and unique pieces or to discuss which whites we have in stock please contact Max our Personal Shopper:
+ 44 (0)20 7079 1635