Over the last few months, we have been lucky enough to have developed a close relationship with Bamford Watch Department. Meeting Mr George Bamford, the man behind Bamford Watch Department and Bamford London, you quickly understand how the brand has come into existence. He is a man who’s somewhat oxymoronic tastes are both quintessential of a serious vintage sports watch enthusiast as well as a pioneer of the modern, colourful and unique wristwatch. As a result, meeting the man, the myth, the legend has provided both Felix and me with the opportunity to understand his creative process and really get an understanding of where his ambitions for Bamford Watch Department and Bamford London are coming from.
As you will have seen from our article on the Bamford x Zenith x Black Badger Superconductor LE, they are still striving to combine exceptional Swiss watchmaking with cutting edge and pioneering use of materials to produce unique and exceptionally cool wristwatches. However, as previously mentioned, the cool stuff which they get up to is not limited to the brand partnerships that they have. They are also releasing some sensational pieces under their own brand, Bamford London. Currently, boasting two pieces, the Mayfair and Mayfair GMT, they are proving that they are fully committing to their standalone brand. Today, Felix and I are going to talk about the vintage-inspired Mayfair GMT which we had the pleasure of spending some time with.
The watch itself is a slightly cushion cased, 40mm sports watch in stainless steel. This shape is very reminiscent of the Breitling Top Time and Heuer Camaro. As a result, this watch wears very much like a vintage sports watch from the 80s. This is especially refreshing as modern watches in this case shape can often feel much larger and bulkier on the wrist when manufactures risk increasing the case diameter to accommodate the movement. Furthermore, the internal rotating bezel in a contrasting colour is also very reminiscent of the Enicar Sherpers, IWC Aquatimers, Bulova Accutron and Omega Chronostop Ref 145.008. This coupled with the retro case shape enables the wear the obtain an exceptionally authentic vintage sports watch feel in a modern watch.
It comes in on a very Tag-Heuer-Aquaracer-feeling stainless steel bracelet which, whilst being very comfortable, is not as good a pairing for the watch as the matching canvas bracelet that is also on offer to the buyer.
The piece houses a workhorse Sellita SW330-1 movement, which is essentially a clone of the famous ETA 2893-2. Not only does it have a very reasonable 42hr power reserve, but it also has a quick-set GMT hand, which makes changing the second time zone a doddle. We personally feel that, although not a technically impressive movement, the utilisation of such a movement means that this cool vintage-inspired piece can adorn a mechanical GMT movement. This is not an attribute that can be boasted by many other watches from other brands in this price category and below and, in our opinion, really lets down some great watches from the likes of Dan Henry and Corniche.
In true Bamford fashion, there really is a configuration or colourway for everyone! Bamford has really had some fun with this line, even branching out into adding characters to the dial, namely Popeye and most recently, Snoopy.
Felix: Bamford London GMT ‘Blue & White’
The model that I was so lucky to be able to play with is, as you can see, the Blue and White variation. Whilst we had the choice of any of the variations that Bamford London has to offer, there was a reason for me choosing this particular colour. Whilst there are colourways which are perhaps more ‘fun’, I wanted to go for something versatile but playful. Something that a prospective buyer might look at as a one-watch collection. For me, the blue and white does that perfectly!
Whilst this model, like all the other variations, is a complete ‘strap-whore’ I found myself wearing it on the steel bracelet for the majority of my time with the piece. For me, when reviewing watches, the bracelet is of key importance. Outside of case size and legibility, a comfortable bracelet is by far the most important factor when buying a watch. In the case of the Mayfair GMT, the bracelet is brilliant. It is a standard ‘Oyster’ style bracelet. It features a nice gentle taper and tightly hugging end links which make the transition from case to bracelet seamless.
For your £1,100 British Pounds, you get not only an incredibly handsome watch but also a watch with true passion shining through. Having now spent some time chatting to George, you can see that he has an unmatched passion for horology as a whole, which is certainly injected into the Bamford London line. Whilst there are more established brands offering watches in this price range, Oris, Christopher Ward and Sinn to name a few, there is a monumentally strong case made here for picking up a Bamford GMT!
Those of you who know me will know that my next ‘big’ watch purchase for some years now has been the Oris Big Crown Pointer Date in blue. Well, I think that has now been knocked off the top spot by this particular version of the Mayfair GMT. I absolutely love it, the colour combination is spot on, the GMT is a dream to use, it is such a comfortable and well-proportioned watch I forgot at times that I even had it on my wrist! If you are looking for a fun watch that is built like a watch of double its price and has passion bleeding out of it, then look no further than the Mayfair GMT.
Cal: Bamford London GMT ‘Flame Orange & Grey’
Although I did also spend some time with the Blue and white steel version, I was lucky enough to spend the majority of my time with the Matte grey steel, black and orange model. Upon the Mayfair GMT’s release, this was my favourite iteration of all the models. The contrast of the very dark matte grey coating on the steel case against the violent orange of the bezel, dial and indices has an almost dangerous ambience.
This colour combination, along with the black and yellow, is the most striking of all the iterations. Until you see a Bamford watch of any kind in person, you cannot appreciate how bright and vibrant the colours are. Having patented a number of their own colours, they have achieved a way to make the colours extremely vibrant. This is definitely the case for the orange contrasted against the grey on this model. In the flesh, it almost looks as if there is some kind of LED in the indices.
The model I opted for came on the canvas style strap that came in a matching grey with orange stitching. I think this worked for the watch better than the steel strap by achieving a more vintage sports watch feel as opposed to a heavy bulky modern sports watch style. This is probably down to personal preference but I think the strap really added to the overall watch. As mentioned earlier, the bracelet is of good quality, arguably better than the likes of Christopher Ward and some of the higher-end Seiko Presage models and is akin to the likes of the Tag Aquaracer models. The canvas strap is actually very similar to that found on the PVD Tag Aquaracer. Solid and substantial enough to support the watch but supple enough to wear comfortably.
The movement, again mentioned earlier, is an affordable workhorse movement with a consistent 42-hour power reserve. As I rarely took this watch off, I didn’t test this but there were definitely periods of 24 hours where I wouldn’t be wearing it and the movement hadn’t lost any noticeable time. More to the point is that Mr Bamford had made a conscious decision to use this movement as it meant he could offer an exceptionally cool vintage-inspired timepiece, at a reasonable price, without haven’t to compromise and use a quartz movement. This isn’t something other brands in this price category do and, in my opinion, shows a genuine passion and enthusiasm for bringing a truly respectable piece to the market.
The Mayfair GMT brings a combination of modern style, uniqueness and vintage sensibilities that reflect a man behind the brand that is a real watch nerd with an ambition to bring a well thought out and excellently designed piece to the market, at a reasonable price. As has been the theme of the Bamford brand, this watch’s design and execution demonstrate that there was little compromising on anything from the case size to the type of movement to the colour combinations on offer.
This watch is a superb offering, and as just over £1,000, is maybe the most fun you can have within this price range. Please go to Bamford’s website and have a look at their offering. No bias aside, they are brilliant.