BRANDS TO KNOW: BAMFORD WATCH DEPARTMENT
Just when you think a Rolex couldn’t get any better, George Bamford rears his well-coiffed head and your world is turned upside-down. George is the founder of Bamford Watch Department, a legendary personaliser of watches that turns luxury timepieces into one-of-a-kind works of art. Although even he acknowledges that a Rolex is probably as close to perfection as a watch is going to get, he still insists there’s room for improvement and he’s the man for the job.
The legend of Bamford Watch Department goes back to George Bamford’s 18th birthday, when he was given a Rolex Daytona and fell in love with the timeless design. It was, to him, the coolest thing he’d ever owned – until he realised how many other people had the exact same thing clasped around their wrists. With his illusions of uniqueness shattered, George set out to piece them back together.
He began by customising just two pieces: his own Rolex Daytona and one for his father. It was a pursuit born purely of passion, never intended to be a commercial enterprise. But as more and more interested bystanders complimented his handiwork, George knew he had something special on his hands. In 2003, the Bamford Watch Department business was born.
While the idea of a company that reworks the world’s most popular watches might seem simple, it isn’t. There are notorious challenges to reimagining the work of a company as big as Rolex. Rolex begrudgingly accepts that it cannot control what happens to its watches after they’re sold, but it officially admonishes the practice of customisation and refuses to service watches that are not in their original state.
But what could be more fun than doing something you know is a little bit naughty?
Bamford was the first company to personalise Rolex watches, beginning with a basic blackening process. That black look became the signature calling card of BWD, although the exact process has changed over the company’s decade in business. Now a highly advanced military grade coating is used – a secret formula Bamford has yet to divulge. On top of that infamous PVD coating, numerous other details can be tweaked to suit the customer’s taste, including dial finish, hours/minutes markers and bezel treatments. No expense is spared in the quest for the best, and most unique, watches on the market.
For some, merely owning something nice is enough. For others, a greater sense of individuality and ownership is required. Bamford Watch Department caters to the latter man – one who wants to feel that what he owns is unique, personal, and worth showing off. Think Brabus and Mercedes. The whole point of style is to feel unique, but most end up conforming to trends and emulating what they see in street style snaps. What Bamford aims for is the ultimate luxury: a perfect fusion of the world’s most exclusive watch companies with a personalised wearing experience.