Some watches may share similar aesthetics, but the Garrick Regulator exhibits a most unusual style which proves easy on the eye. Furthermore, with its own in-house free-sprung balance, visible via an aperture on the dial, this British timepiece delivers superb precision.
This detailed review of the Garrick Regulator includes live images, specification details and pricing.
Since Garrick was founded, the British brand, based in Norfolk, has been very busy. David Brailsford and Simon Michlmayr, the creative duo who established the company, have shown an unwavering resolve, enticing watch enthusiasts with their unusual, handcrafted timepieces.
The prolific duo initially launched the Shaftesbury SM301, but thereafter unveiled the Hoxton SM302 and Norfolk models. Each timepiece evinces its own very distinctive character and woos buyers with a high quotient of British craftsmanship. Now, Garrick has released its ‘Regulator’ model, a timepiece limited to only 15 examples.
Historically, regulators were reference instruments used by watchmakers when testing other clocks or watches. Typically, regulators featured hours, seconds and minutes, with the latter indication assuming greatest significance, by occupying the greatest portion of the dial. Over the years, regulators have become increasingly popular with their dominant, sole minute hand circumscribing the full dial canvas and bestowing a very unique aesthetic. Moreover, owing to their historical role as reference instruments, regulators have typically delivered a high degree of precision.
While the Garrick Regulator delivers excellent precision, it does not subscribe to convention, exhibiting a very distinctive style all of its own. With my interest suitably piqued, I contacted the brand and requested an extended period of ‘hands-on’ evaluation. The British brand were clearly keen to impress me, sending two versions of the Regulator, one in black DLC and a second example in highly polished steel.
The first thing to note about the Regulator is that the seconds and hour indications are presented on two separate subdials, arranged vertically along a north-south axis. This layout conforms with the topography of many other regulators.
The small running seconds is presented on an anthracite, brushed subdial, delicately marked with white graduations and Arabic numerals. A red small seconds hand cheerfully imparts information and features a polished, gleaming circular counterweight, sans rouge. It is this latter detail which immediately discloses an impressive attention to detail.
Positioned adjacent 6 o’clock, a further black subdial displays the prevailing hour. A sole, silver-hued, lancine-shaped hand points to Arabic numerals. This subdial has a similar diameter to the aforementioned seconds display. Both the seconds and hour indications feature two polished screws with their heads perfectly aligned.
Located adjacent the crown, a larger disc ring indicates the minutes with a rhodium plated hand. The minutes are proclaimed with white Arabic numerals and white dots, set against a black background, aiding legibility. The ring is retained with three polished screws with their slots arranged perpendicular to the minute ring. Again, the attention to detail is superb.
Gracing the left flank of the case is a large aperture, exposing the balance. The sight of the in-house free sprung balance is fabulous, no doubt seducing many watch collectors with its beguiling to and fro motion. Indeed, when confronted with the vision of a pulsing balance spring I am often reminded of a beating heart and the almost human-like quality of a wound mechanical watch movement, effervescing with life.
The aperture confers a partial glimpse of the pallet lever industriously nodding and, in so doing, indulges my fetish for horological voyeurism.
Garrick has fused both contemporary and traditional design elements throughout this watch. The balance bridge is very modern in style, featuring two slender, straight arms which neatly reach the fulcrum of the balance.
The grey-toned, frosted dial beautifully coalesces with the other dial elements and includes a cartouche at 5 o’clock, proclaiming the name of the British watchmaker. The dial vista magnificently plays with depths, the minute ring sits on high while the seconds display partially floats above the adjacent aperture. This compendium of details proves bewitching.
The scale of the indications did make interpreting the time a tad more challenging than reading the display on other Garrick models. However, I did not care, succumbing to the Regulators fascinating appearance and sublime craftsmanship.
The black DLC exudes an air of modernity and I found it to be very appealing. Nevertheless, I was particularly drawn to its sparkling sibling, presented in a highly polished 42mm case. While both cases exhibit different characters, the silhouette of each version exhibits a traditional mien.
The case design appears similar to other Garrick models but now features a new crown design, proving easier to manipulate. The Regulator has a depth of 11.50mm, allowing the watch to partially hibernate beneath the shirt cuff, according an orderly appearance.
As the dial already exposes part of the Calibre sm001, it is not surprising that the watch sports a solid case back. This dorsal plane bears the maker’s name and the following words, ‘EXPERTLY CRAFTED AND ASSEMBLED BY HAND IN ENGLAND’.
Both press loan models were delivered with black rubber straps, however, as David Brailsford explained to me, the company has an extensive selection of alligator and premium leather alternatives to choose from. Indeed, this perfectly illustrates the ‘bespoke’ nature of a Garrick timepiece, with the Norfolk based team acceding to numerous client requests.
The hand-wound Calibre sm001 is based on a modified ‘new old stock’ Unitas movement and was conceived by Craig Baird, a Master Watchmaker based at the Garrick workshops. The British brand has equipped the movement with its own exclusive gear train. The Regulator also features the company’s in-house free sprung balance.
It is not the first time Garrick has fitted one of its watches with a free sprung balance. Indeed, the British company equipped its first model, the Shaftesbury sm301 with this know-how and, in so doing, revealed both its ambition and technical mastery from the outset. A detailed technical explanation of the free sprung balance is provided with my review of the Shaftesbury sm301.
A notable benefit of the free-sprung balance relates to the timekeeping prowess it confers. Garrick claim the movement is ‘tested and regulated to ensure a daily variance of +3 seconds’. During my temporary ownership of the Garrick, the watch certainly appeared to proffer excellent precision, validating the decision to incorporate the technically challenging in-house balance.
The frequency of the balance is 18,000 vph (2.5Hz) and the sole spring barrel delivers a power reserve of 42 hours.
I thoroughly enjoyed my period of association with the Garrick Regulator. The scale of the watch should suit the majority of wearers and personally, I found the watch accorded an extremely comfortable marriage with my wrist.
Typical of historical regulators, the Garrick Regulator delivered excellent day to day precision. However, there is nothing regular about the Garrick Regulator. Its dial sidesteps the conventional layout of a regulator, freeing up space for the disclosure of the balance and its supporting bridge. The trade-off is that the scale of the various indications may prove challenging for some myopia-suffering wearers. Nevertheless, slip on a pair of spectacles and all information comes into focus. Furthermore, a plethora of other delightful details come into view from screwheads, which optimally align, to numerous elements delivered at varying heights.
The sight of the balance at play proves hypnotic and denotes that this is a mechanical watch, absent of any inert electronics.
Lastly, the Garrick Regulator differentiates itself from many mass-produced watches courtesy of its handcrafted build. I could readily succumb to ordering a Regulator, appreciating its scarcity and unusual appearance. Moreover, with the brand advertising that it offers bespoke services, I would derive great pleasure from a few personalised touches to make the watch very much my own. Indeed, Garrick has, once again, shown it is a very unusual marque.
- Model: Garrick Regulator
- Case: stainless steel; diameter 42.00mm; height 11.5mm; sapphire crystal to front and solid caseback.
- Functions: Hours; minutes; seconds.
- Movement: Calibre sm001 (modified Unitas with exclusive gear train), hand-wound movement; frequency 18,000 vph (2.5Hz), power reserve 42 hours
- Strap: Black rubber presented with a stainless steel pin buckle. Alternative options available.
- Price: £6950 (RRP as at 24.6.2016)