The Garrick S2 is the latest timepiece to leave the British brand’s Norfolk workshop. Housed within a 904L stainless steel case, the watch features a mesmerising engine-turned guilloché dial and a high degree of hand craftsmanship. Indeed, the protracted creation of this watch is the very antithesis of mass production.
Today, supermarkets sell a broad array of items: ready meals, soft drinks and detergents, but also clothes, pharmaceuticals and even electronic goods. This diverse product portfolio is incredible, however, all the items offered for sale have one thing in common, they are mass produced.
In the world of watches, mass production techniques make it possible for companies to offer attractive, uniform and reliable timepieces at affordable prices. Ascending the ladder of horological greatness, luxury watches encompass fine materials, complications and sometimes noble metals. These models are marketed as luxury, but often still encompass the same mass production methods popularised by Henry Ford and his legendary Model T.
There is no shame in making mass produced products, they are necessary for modern-day living. However, the ultimate expression of luxury has to be hand-made goods, especially bespoke goods. A pair of John Lobb hand-made shoes, a Savile Row suit, a shirt from Jermyn Street or a bespoke piece of silverware from Aspreys are just some exemplars of opulent living.
Fine watchmaking is an esoteric domain where excellence sets aside much of the mass production techniques found on more affordable watches. Mainplates and springs are still made using modern plant, but many items are crafted in low numbers by hand. This rarefied world of horological eminence attracts consummate pricing. Usually, these paragons of no-compromise luxury start at £50,000 and soon rise to six or even seven figure sums.
Garrick, on the face of it, is somewhat of an enigma. Its watches are crafted in Norfolk and encompass much hand-craftsmanship. Mass production methods are set aside and the watches incorporate costly specification details often the preserve of very expensive timepieces. However, Garrick’s models remain comparatively affordable.
The independent British watch brand, led by charismatic David Brailsford, has enjoyed exponential growth. With the advent of each new model, the brand has shown it subscribes to the business doctrine of ‘continuous improvement’, surpassing the standards set by former models. Recently, Garrick unveiled its latest timepiece, the S2 and I was sent a loan watch in order to experience elysian watchmaking first hand.
Friends and acquaintances, mindful of my profession, often look at the watch I am wearing and voice an opinion. Recently, with the Garrick S2 affixed to my wrist, several onlookers freely shared words of unbridled affection for this British watch.
The central area of the dial is adorned with a ‘guilloché motif’. While some brands employ this term loosely, using it to describe a stamped dial, a genuine guilloché dial is made using a rose-engine lathe. The dial of the Garrick S2 employs this latter approach and upholds this traditional means of imparting an elaborate pattern to the dial’s surface.
Despite the name, the rose-engine lathe is hand operated. A cutting head is introduced to a vertically aligned dial blank. By carefully rotating a hand-operated wheel, the dial turns, causing the cutting head to engrave a pattern in the dial’s epidermis. The behaviour of the cutting head is influenced by using a series of cams which impart different patterns to the dial. The challenge of the technique is to apply uniform pressure against the hand-operated wheel in order that the depth and width of the pattern remains as consistent as possible.
Adjacent the guilloché motif, the hour track is embellished with a circular grained finish, sometimes termed, ‘satiné circulaire’. Roman numerals are affixed to a conjoined chemin de fer and sit atop said grained finish. The indexes and chemin de fer are thermally blued and affixed to the dial epidermis.
An arcing cartouche sits upon the central dial area, proclaiming the brand’s name. By virtue of its protracted creation, the dial fitted to the Garrick S2 will almost certainly have cost in excess of £1000 to make, albeit the brand remains tightlipped about the precise cost. To put this in context, the dials fitted to many so-called luxury watches often cost less than £100 to make.
Thermally blued lancine-style hour and minute hands sit in agreeable concert with a central sweep seconds hand. This latter hand is endowed with a prominent counterbalance, designed to emulate the profile of an anchor.
Unusually, the dial showcases the balance wheel at 6 o’clock which is supported by a prominent bridge, spanning the lower portion of the dial. Behind the bridge, the wearer is granted a view of the exquisite frosted gold plate, which contrasts wonderfully with the adjacent dark grey hues of the dial.
The aforementioned bridge is straight grained on its upper surface, while the adjacent bevelled edges are highly polished. The two prominent screws on the bridge are also highly polished.
The dial affords unrestricted views of the balance wheel and hairspring. Virtually all of Garrick’s watches have been equipped with a variable inertia balance. Unlike most watches which are equipped with a simple curb adjuster, the rate of this watch is adjusted by tightening or loosening the screws fitted to the balance wheel. This approach allows the hairspring to breathe more concentrically, aiding precision. Furthermore, Garrick has set the timing screws in-board within recesses set in the rim of the balance wheel (three in total). This mitigates air turbulence and, by default, aids precision.
Beyond its profound beauty and the flirtatious behaviour of its freely-disclosed balance, oscillating to and fro, the dial of the Garrick S2 is eminently simple to read. Indeed, the British firm has shown that beauty and functionality do not have to be mutually exclusive.
A further benefit of Garrick ownership is that the brand is willing to accede to customer requests. Indeed, whether it is the addition of a Breguet overcoil, a specific dial colour, dial motif or a bespoke engraving on the movement, the Norfolk-based company is more than willing to pander to the whims of its clientele, albeit for a modest premium.
The case of the Garrick S2 is a tad puzzling. The British firm states that the model measures 42mm in diameter, but somehow it seems much smaller when worn. Perplexed by this characteristic, I contacted David Brailsford to confirm the dimensions of the watch and better understand the reasons for this optical illusion. Brailsford explained that the case has been designed in such a way as to appear smaller than reality. Moreover, the way the case is polished further mitigates the sense of scale.
By being 42mm in diameter the watch has a larger dial surface, affording more room for the dial-side balance wheel and the various indications. This intelligent design imbues the watch with a neat appearance, while simultaneously delivering an impressively lucid horological vista. The case is made of 904L stainless steel which provides superior scratch resistance to the ubiquitous 316L stainless steel.
The onion-shaped crown is bulbous, an aesthetic that has appeared on other watches. Sometimes this style of crown can chafe the wearer’s skin, however, no such criticisms could be directed towards the Garrick S2. At no stage did this protrusion impair the comfort or free movement of my wrist.
The case is endowed with satin brushed and highly polished surfaces. This combination of surface treatments works well, tastefully sidestepping excess and exhibiting a seemly degree of exuberance.
An exhibition caseback affords views of the hand-wound movement. The generous diameter of the sapphire crystal allows the wearer to immerse themselves in a sea of impeccable finishing.
The Calibre UT-G03 brims with exalted British craftsmanship. The watch, including its hand-wound movement, is handcrafted by Garrick’s in-house Master Watchmaker, Craig Baird. Since its inception, Garrick has equipped all of its models with a small seconds indication, however, the Calibre UT-G03 is the brand’s first movement equipped with a central sweep seconds hand.
My press loan was supplied with a gold frosted movement, however, the brand does offer alternative options. The crown wheel and ratchet wheel are circular grained. Gold chatons and blued screws uphold fine watchmaking practise. The click shuns the perfunctory, incorporating an elaborate design with sublime finishing, positioned above a bed of pristine perlage. The pallet cock and balance cock are beautifully engraved, again upholding the company’s reputation for peerless hand craftsmanship.
While Garrick is a small company, it has clearly embraced modernity when this confers advancement. The hairspring is made of a patented anti-magnetic alloy called Sircumet. In addition, the company further demonstrates its punctilious psyche by using olive jewels which proffer less friction than conventional jewels. The British firm repeatedly demonstrates a high degree of fastidiousness.
Wearing the Garrick S2 proved an agreeable experience. The scale and design of the case did not impact on wearer comfort and the watch head sat squarely on my wrist without rotating annoyingly. My loan watch was supplied with a 904L stainless steel case, however, the brand is happy to offer an 18-carat gold option upon request.
The Garrick’s elaborate dial is rich in texture, providing a sumptuous mien without inhibiting the interpretation of time.
With all hand-crafted products there are small signs which indicate that a product is not mass produced but made by time-served hands. I would strongly urge any would-be purchaser to hold a loupe to their right eye and quaff the Garrick’s heady cocktail of delightful artisanship.
Regrettably, Savile Row suits and Jermyn Street shirts are typically beyond the means of most mere mortals and remain the sole preserve of the wealthy. Unusually, the Garrick S2 occupies the rarefied world of hand crafted objects while remaining comparatively affordable. Indeed, the British brand has shown that an individual does not need to settle for a mass produced item and can now embrace a world that until now has only been accessible to the fortunate few.
- Model: Garrick S2
- Case: 904L stainless steel; diameter 42mm; height 10mm; water resistance 10ATM (100 metres); sapphire crystal to the front and sapphire caseback
- Functions: Hours; minutes; central sweep seconds
- Movement: Calibre UT-G03; hand-wound movement; 19 jewels; power reserve 45 hours
- Strap: Alligator, calf leather, buffalo or ostrich leather strap, paired with steel pin buckle
- Price: £14,995 (RRP as at 5.8.2019)