Recently, I saw the very watch to engender pride in any self-respecting Brit, the IWI Watches SM-444. I was immediately attracted to this handsome masculine watch with roundel motif presented centre stage on the dial. Some will immediately think of mods and rockers and recall the 1979 film, Quadrophenia. However, I think of the de Havilland Tiger Moth with its patriotic roundel adorning its fuselage.
It is a good time to be British. Last year, the country celebrated the success of the Olympics. It was hosted by Great Britain, garnering unanimous praise. Indeed, any scepticism exhibited by cynics prior to the event, soon evaporated, once justified pride became the ubiquitous mood of the nation.
This year we have seen a victorious Andy Murray at Wimbledon and Chris Froome take the honours at the Tour de France.
Great Britain has much to be proud of. Take for example watchmaking, whilst we often talk about Swiss, German and Japanese dominance within the world of horology, it all began in Blighty. It was our seafaring nation which conceived the Marine Chronometer, thanks to the relentless endeavours of Mr John Harrison. Moreover, there was a profusion of other great talents who manipulated gears and springs to provide an ever more accurate measurement of time. Luminaries from the world of horology also included Tompion, Graham, Arnold and Mudge to name but a few.
A good time to fly the flag
Yes, it is a good time to fly the British flag and celebrate being from the special isle, steeped in tradition and history.
I know some are scared of exhibiting patriotism for fear of being labelled racist. But that is the nonsense exhibited by mindless hooligans who have, on occasion, hi-jacked the national game of football for their own perverse ends. The minority should never be allowed to steal the deserved pride of the majority, misguidedly exploiting it in some bout of jingoistic foolishness.
A watch to engender pride
Recently, I saw the very watch to engender pride in any self-respecting Brit, the IWI Watches SM-444. The nomenclature of the timepiece does not adequately convey its innovative appearance.
I was immediately attracted to this handsome masculine watch with roundel motif presented centre stage on the dial. Some will immediately think of mods and rockers and recall the 1979 film, Quadrophenia. However, I think of the de Havilland Tiger Moth with its patriotic roundel adorning its fuselage.
IWI Watches are a British brand, employing Swiss movements but also drawing on engineering expertise from around Great Britain. Their soubriquet can be seen adorning the aerodynamic body panels of race cars and gracing the helmets of various racing professionals.
I wondered whether the association with motorsport was pure marketing opportunism or a fundamental facet of the brand’s paradigm. I chatted to Tim Nadin, Chief Executive of the brand and found a man who is clearly obsessed with motorsport and, in particular, the development of up and coming racing talent. Most weekends, Nadin can be found attending races both in the UK or in one of several other European venues.
Nadin explained, “Britain is the home of motorsport. This country has a profound expertise, creating cars with cutting-edge technology and I want to bring some of that know-how to the watches we create. We are keen to play our part in nurturing up and coming racing talent and actively sponsor drivers, championships or teams in Formula 4, Clio Cup and F3 Cup. Most recently GP2 and GP3, the two series below F1 with Arden International Motor Sport, owned by Christian Horner of Red Bull F1 and F1 racer Mark Webber. However, there is potential for motorsport to provide a technology transfer to the products we make influencing the design and ultimate enjoyment our products bestow.”
IWI Watches SM-444
Returning to the IWI Watches SM-444, I note the straight vertical flanks of the case. It has a hewn from metal billet appearance and oozes robust, masculine lines.
The crown appears at noon and so I questioned Nadin about its unusual location. His answer was short and sweet, “we are racers, where else would we locate it”, as he held the watch in his hand like a stopwatch gracing the sweaty palms of a paddock wall professional. It all began to make sense.
These are “watches made for true racers” as Nadin proudly proclaims. Nadin pointed to the allen-key like bolts which feature on the caseback. Each one resembles a miniature facsimile of the bolts used on the high-performance cars.
I queried if he had thought of fitting a sapphire caseback to his models and with a simultaneous nod and grin, he remarked, “we do plan to show our engines in due course”.
A marriage of cars and watches
The marriage of cars and watches has been previously exploited by marketing professionals. The profile of watch buyers is such that they often love cars and have an interest in motorsport. However, with IWI, there seems to be an innate need to genuinely fuse the British excellence for motorsport, embrace the history of the nation’s horological past and distill it into unusual, yet accessible timepieces for a new generation.
I suspect there will be more championship winning Brits leading the field of motorsport and several of them will be wearing an IWI, a brand they know symbolises their need for speed and shows patriotism to glorious effect.
Angus Davies, Tim Nadin and James Walker
Wear your heart on your sleeve or in this instance a roundel on your wrist. My only criticism is the name, come on Mr Nadin, a championship winning choice is needed.
Model: IWI Watches SM-444
Case: Stainless steel; diameter 41.00 mm; height 11.00 mm; water resistant to5 bar (50m); sapphire crystal to front and solid caseback.
Functions: Hours; minutes; central seconds; date.
Movement: ETA 2824-2, self-winding movement; frequency28’800 vph (4 Hz); 25 jewels; power reserve 38 hours
Strap: Blue Louisiana Alligator strap presented on a stainless steel deployant.
Angus is a self-confessed watch addict and is frequently asked to contribute to various printed magazines and websites around the globe. He also writes for individual watch companies on matters of horology and has appeared on television and radio as an industry expert.