The man behind revolutionary watch company Bamford Watch Department gives us some insight into his love for travel, gathering design inspiration and the perfect travel timepiece
George Bamford, founder and CEO of Bamford Watch Department, has grown up with an impressive adoration for the world of horology. ‘The first watch I ever owned was a Flik Flak,’ he wistfully recalls. ‘But my first official watch that I have a true memory of was a Formula 1 TAG Heuer vintage watch with a luminous dial.’
On George’s 18th birthday he received a Rolex Daytona as a present. Keen to show his friends, he was shocked to find that half of them already owned the exact same watch. As a result, he sought to modify the timepiece. He applied a DLC coating that gave the Daytona a cool and stealthy all-black aesthetic. Unbeknown to him, this was the beginning of Bamford Watch Department.
However, it wasn’t until he studied in New York that he began to see customising watches as a potential career opportunity. ‘I loved watches, but I didn’t think about getting into the business until I was living in New York. The city is fascinating and I fell in love with going to weekend flea markets to discover all the amazing watches. Here, I was able to learn through the physical form and not just from the internet.’
Bamford credits a lot of his success and innovation to travel. ‘Travelling plays a massive role when it comes to creating and designing a watch,’ he says. ‘It impacts everything.’ After partnering with Jean-Claude Biver, head of watches for LVMH at the time, the Bamford Watch Department really took off, allowing George’s creativity to reach its full potential. ‘This was the turning point for my business,’ he says. ‘It allowed us to collaborate with some amazing names.’ These have included TAG Heuer, Zenith and Chopard.
As one of the first brands to design watches in partnership with artists and fashion houses, Bamford Watch Department has also collaborated with the likes of Peanuts, Pharrell Williams and Thomas Pink, each on a limited-edition GMT design.
George’s love for travelling rears its head through a lot of these collaborations. ‘The Chopard Desert Racer collaboration has been one of my favourite projects. I travelled to Mexico and raced the Norra 1000 for the launch of the watch. This event was in the middle of the desert, and I went off-roading for 1,000 miles in a beach buggy. This was extremely memorable and was the perfect way to launch the Desert Racer watch.’
Sharing an anecdote, George tells us of his recent trip to Paris with his eldest son. ‘My son was flagging after a business meeting, so I took him into a chocolate shop designed by [sculptor and chocolatier] Patrick Roger. Everything was beautifully done and it completely inspired me on packaging for a watch. It showed me that it is the unexpected little things that can inspire you. That is why you have got to be open to whatever is around you. I know that these days we have an app for everything but it’s really the experience of going out there and looking at the world yourself that gives you inspiration for design.’
One design that is influenced by George’s love of travel is the Bamford GMT dual time zone watch. ‘I made sure to design this watch with an internal rotating bezel. I found that an external rotating bezel on a GMT watch kept on clicking when I was travelling because it would get caught in my jacket sleeve. I would then always struggle to phone home at the right time and would often wake my family up.’
The GMT’s dual time zone enables the wearer to access the time for two different locations. The GMT also leverages the unique colourways of the Bamford Watch Department, allowing the timepiece to suit anyone’s style.
The Bamford GMT, made under the Bamford London brand, is one of the most accessible watches offered by Bamford Watch Department. George considers it an extremely significant timepiece not only for its functionality but also its significance: ‘The GMT is the first serious watch I have designed out of Bamford London, because it is what I wanted. It’s always in my watch roll.’
On top of the GMT, George speaks enthusiastically about other Bamford watches that are perfect for travel. ‘It’s currently sold out but the G-SHOCK is an all-round sports watch that is great for travelling,’ he says. ‘Other amazing watches that I love to see on my wrist are the Aquaracer or the Desert Racer.’
George Bamford launched Bamford Watch Company ‘to be the solution for both brands and customers’. Through his love and experience of travel, he has provided frequent voyagers with the perfect solution for a travel timepiece.
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