Watches: bespoke without the big spend, CAR+ May 2016

Published: 01 April 2016

► This month we look at British-designed, Swiss-made watches
► Sekford Type 1A: limited run of just 500, pricey but stylish
► Elliot Brown Canford and Farer Carter both cost less than £500

There’s been an uptick in interest in watches costing around £500 recently, and it’s not hard to see why. You get a greater level of design and quality that you’ll find at £100. You’ll often get the ability to build your watch bespoke, with your choice of case, dial and strap. But you also feel like you’re getting value, and not subsidising a big Swiss brand’s marketing budget. Here are three British-designed, Swiss-made pieces that typify the trend.

Sekford Type 1A: £695

New, limited run, but pricey

Sekford is a new British watch brand. The watches are actually made in Switzerland, of course, but with input from British typographers, artists and leather makers. The look is ‘mid-century modern’ – for which read Don Draper-style elegance and a relatively constrained 38.5mm case size. The movement is quartz, when you can have an automatic from an established brand for less money. But fine quality, an on-trend look and a limited, numbered run of 500 for this first ‘1A’ model might tempt you.

Elliot Brown Canford: £325

Truly amazing value

How do they do it for the money? With the exception of an automatic movement (it’s quartz, but still Swiss) an Elliot Brown Canford offers you most of the features of a Rolex at a fraction (actually around a tenth) of the price. Some of those features are expensive to include, like the super-high quality 316L steel, the integral shock absorber and the triple-sealed crowns. Others just show thought, like the smooth radiuses that won’t fray your shirt cuff. This Canford alone comes in 18 very different styles.

Farer Carter: £420

Very cool look, and customisable

Another new British-designed watch brand, made in Switzerland from top-grade steel and a quartz movement, offering seven different styles, each with up to five different strap options – are you seeing a theme here? Farer deserves your attention for their low prices (they start at £340) and really strong designs that bear comparison with Germany’s long-established, super-cool (but much pricier) Nomos. All their watches are named after British explorers and adventurers: it’s worth springing the extra for this Carter for its good looks and second time zone hand. 

Read more from the May 2016 issue of CAR magazine

By Ben Oliver

Contributing editor, watch connoisseur, purveyor of fine features