Garrick releases a new improved Portsmouth
Evolution is a byword for change and a close friend of progress. Garrick, the quintessential British brand understands the notion of evolution and has recently unveiled a new version of its youngest model, the Portsmouth. The Portsmouth Mark 2 represents a step forward, building on the success of the inaugural version of the model.
The brand is at pains to point out that the new watch delivers far more for no additional fee, a rare exception in these inflationary times.
Each component is expertly finished by hand and many of the components are crafted in the brand’s workshop in Norfolk. This should not be compared with a mass-produced offering from Germany or Switzerland. This is the horological equivalent of a Savile Row suit. Indeed, owing to the small-scale production methods, the British firm is able to accede to individual personalisation requests.
The first version of the Portsmouth featured an ‘England’ motif on the dial. At the time, despite liking the unusual dial, I did express concerns that it may not have been to everyone’s taste. Indeed, I stated that I personally would have preferred a grand feu enamel dial or an engraved dial featuring clous de Paris.
Garrick has clearly listened to feedback, unveiling a new guilloché dial on the Portsmouth Mark 2. The dial blank is made in-house and then engine turned in the UK. The fan-shaped motif is gorgeous to behold, cavorting with light and, in so doing, evincing a myriad of shades depending on the angle it is held. My press loan was equipped with a becoming blue dial option, but other colours are available.
The brand has retained its Maritime hands. They feature anchor-like counterbalances and are elongated in form. The profile of the hour hand is especially long, but this does nothing to mar ease of interpretation. The hands are delivered in a gleaming silver hue, albeit alternative options are available on request. The minute hand spans the dialscape, reaching the minute track with ease and making read-off a matter of child’s play.
Garrick state it takes one full day to make a set of hands for the Portsmouth Mark 2 in-house. Even the collets on the hands are turned in-house on a watchmaker’s lathe. This degree of labour intensive dedication flies in the face of expedient mass-produced hands and distinguishes this watch as special.
This latest Portsmouth, the Portsmouth Mark 2, sports a smaller cartouche in the north-easterly aspect of the dial. This is a significant change and, in my opinion, a change for the better. The scale of the Garrick nomen is smaller and neater, allowing more space for the dial surface to shine.
Adjacent 10 o’clock, a small seconds display resides. The fan shaped pattern, depicted within the confines of the small seconds display, mimics the motif on the main dial but is replicated in miniature form. This presents an additional challenge for the artisan tasked with engine turning the dial epidermis. However, the resultant aesthetic justifies the additional time expended. This attention to detail is highly impressive and helps differentiate the Portsmouth Mark 2 from the crowd.
To the uninitiated, this watch resembles a tourbillon. While it is not a tourbillon, with a stated accuracy of +2 seconds per day, the Portsmouth V2 certainly delivers superior accuracy to many tourbillons on the market. Moreover, many people purchase a tourbillon for visual reasons, namely, to see the balance dial-side. This British watch delivers an unhindered view of the balance which is mesmerising to observe.
While the watch was in my possession I kept finding myself spending much time watching the balance wheel oscillate to and fro. Moreover, I found the sight of the hairspring ‘breathing’, expanding and contracting like a set of lungs, to be truly fascinating.
The balance bridge is beautifully presented. The upper flat surface is grained, while the bevelled edges are polished to a mirror-like gleam. The two retaining screws are mirror-polished and contrast wonderfully against the grained surface of the bridge.
While the case of the first iteration of the Portsmouth was impressive, the housing of the new timepiece, the Portsmouth Mark 2, is superior. The British watch company has invested in new machinery, acquiring special jigs which hold the case in place whilst polishing takes place. The brand states the exceptional finish is achieved using a ‘linishing machine and mop’. The bezel and upper surface of the lugs are highly polished, while the case-band is satin-finished.
The watch retains its fluted, bulbous crown which proves simple to manipulate. It does not impair hand movement nor does it prove uncomfortable.
The rear of the case features a large pane of sapphire crystal which affords an unhindered view of the hand-wound movement.
While the dimensions of both the Portsmouth and the Portsmouth Mark 2are the same, the earlier watch resembled a 40mm timepiece (actual diameter 42mm). The latter watch looks like a 42mm. This may be attributable to the dial colour or possibly the finishing of the case. Like the original Portsmouth, the Portsmouth Mark 2 is incredibly comfortable to wear.
The sapphire crystal confers a wonderfully clear view of the dial. An explanation for this is the five coatings of anti-reflective treatment upon the sapphire crystal. Three coatings are applied to the external surface of the crystal, with two additional coatings applied on the inner surface.
The hand-wound movement is frosted by hand. The transmission wheel and ratchet wheel are circular grained. The watch features an unusually-shaped click which proves fascinating to observe in flight. Beneath the click, a sea of perlage seduces the connoisseur’s eyes.
Olive jewels (convex shaped jewels) have been used to mitigate friction, reducing wear and lessening power consumption. Several of the jewels are set in gold chatons and thermally blued screws abound.
A cock for the pallet lever sits in the lower portion of the movement. Garrick designed the cock to evoke thoughts of traditional British pocket watches. One aspect of this design is that it allows the wearer to partially view the nodding action of the pallet lever and the circular motion of the escape wheel.
Pulling out the crown causes the movement to hack. Thereafter, the wearer is able to see the trinity balance in motionless slumber. Three poising screws can be observed, set in-board in order to mitigate turbulence, and, in so doing, aid precision. Garrick has used a special alloy called sircumet for the Trinity balance.
Garrick builds this ‘in-house movement from scratch’. Moreover, it states that ‘every single component is polished, grained or frosted by hand’. Certainly, the finissage of each movement is exemplary and, despite close examination with a powerful loupe, I could find no areas justifying criticism.
In business, there is much talk of ‘change for change’s sake’. This path often delivers no palpable benefit. However, the decision by Garrick to revisit its Portsmouth model, releasing the Mark 2, has conferred genuine advancement.
The new dial is incredible and is reason alone to recommend this timepiece. The hand-guilloché dial charms light with coquettish prowess. The arcing cartouche is smaller and looks better proportioned.
Pawing the case with inquisitive fingers reveals a notable quality that is simple to discern. Each element of the case is beautifully resolved and there is a delightful interplay with different surface finishes.
The movement is an exemplar of handcraftsmanship. Each component is distilled to a pure, unblemished standard. The capacity to see the balance in motion and capture glimpses of the pallet lever and escape wheel industriously moving will sate the desires of any horological voyeur, myself included.
Some versions of the Portsmouth have featured perlage beneath the balance. The brand has also offered the option of Côtes de Genève motif on the movement. Prior to seeing this watch, I would have ticked both boxes on the optional extra list. However, having worn this watch, as pictured, I would not change a thing. Quite simply, the frosting beneath the balance does not detract from the glorious spectacle above, allowing the balance to shine. Moreover, the softly spoken three quarter bridge, as tested, does not lessen the splendour of each flawless movement component.
As previously mentioned, the Portsmouth Mark 2 does not cost more than its predecessor, despite it featuring an array of improvements. The personalisation options of perlage beneath the balance or Geneva stripes on the movement do not attract a price premium either. However, my advice would be to take the watch with the blue dial, as supplied. It harnesses much craftsmanship and proffers an individualistic take on fine British watchmaking. Indeed, I found it difficult to part with this horological beauty.
- Model: Garrick Portsmouth Mark 2
- Case: stainless steel; diameter 42.00mm; sapphire crystal to front and solid caseback.
- Functions: Hours; minutes; seconds.
- Movement: Calibre UT-G02, hand-wound movement; frequency 18,000 vph (2.5Hz), 19 jewels; power reserve 44 hours
- Strap: Leather strap with stainless steel pin buckle. Alternative options available.
- Price: £11,995 (RRP as at 21.12.2017)