Throughout the 17th and 18th centuries Britain was considered the pioneer of the watchmaking world. So much so, that in 1800, we were responsible for half of the world’s watch production. Around 65% of the innovation in a mechanical wristwatch has come from British shores over the years and despite the rise of the Swiss ‘monopoly’ within the horological world, a handful of British brands have emerged as experts of their craft. We take a look at some of the best British watch brands on the market today.
The British brand attracts people because it has always been associated with quality and innovation.”Dudley Giles, chief executive of the British Horological Institute
Best British watch brands – Bremont
Bremont’s beginnings were born from Nick and Giles English (Bremont’s founders) honouring their father and carrying on his legacy.
This brothers’ story of time began after a tragic disaster in 1995. Nick and Giles’ father, Euan, was an aeronautical engineer. Nick and his father were flying a WWII aircraft one day when it crash-landed and killed Euan; Nick broke over 30 bones and was not expected to survive.
The world sets its time by Greenwich, not by Geneva, and that is for a good reason.Nick English – Co-Founder, Bremont
It was this momentous event that led the brothers to grasp life and do what made them happy. Leaving their city jobs behind, they decided to pursue their passions for engineering and horology by crafting classic timepieces. As well as working on aircrafts, Euan was a keen restorer of timepieces and he often brought home pieces from auctions to work on with his sons. Euan’s passion lives on in Nick and Giles and is now reflected in their beautiful Bremont watches.
Best British watch brands – Arnold & Son
We thought it fitting to include Arnold & Son as one of our best British watch brands despite having sold their rights back in 1995. John Arnold’s contribution to the industry should be celebrated and remembered as a part of proud British history.
Born in 1736 to a watchmaker, John Arnold was a watchmaker of great importance within the history of horology. After spending some time in the Netherlands completing an apprenticeship that perfected his watch-making abilities, he returned to England and grew to be an established watchmaker within a few years.
Arnold quickly became one of the most creative and talented watchmakers of his time; he gained a wealth of affluent patrons after his presentation of a watch to King George III. He held patents for many of his designs and created the first chronometer- ‘‘No. 36’’; such skilful work won him numerous awards and grants.
Abraham-Louis Breguet – another innovative horologist of this time – was a good friend of Arnold and they worked closely with one another to provide constant innovation within the industry.
Best British watch brands – Graham
Another traditional British watch company is one entitled after an ever-so traditional British name: Graham. Inspired by the tradition of great British watchmakers, in particular George Graham (1673-1751), this brand’s name beautifully implies its English heritage.
Graham timepieces, though exquisitely English, are also known to sometimes possess unexpected and interesting twists in their design. However, this watch company is probably most well known for their chronograph -which has been included in near enough all of their timepieces to date.
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