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Blenheim Watch Limited
Birmingham, England

00447762024907

Watch Guide

Vertex M100: The watch you can't buy without an invitation

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They call them the "Dirty Dozen": a collection of 12 watches commissioned by the Ministry Of Defence for British soldiers during the Second World War. The timepieces were hard-wearing and accurate (well, obviously) – yet they also had more than a dash of style. The brands selected, which ranged from Omega to IWC, included one that has been largely forgotten since it wound up in 1972: Vertex.

Founded over a century ago by Claude Lyons in London’s jewellery heartland, Hatton Garden, Vertex quickly grew to become one of the most successful watch companies in Great Britain.

During the Second World War the British Military selected Vertex, along with eleven other leading watchmakers, to supply the army with a new watch built to an exacting bespoke design. The specifications were precisely what you would expect of a military watch - waterproof, luminous, regulated to chronometer level and rugged. On top of that, the dial needed to be black with arabic numerals to maximise legibility.


This select group have became known as the ‘Dirty Dozen’

Now, it's back, courtesy of the founder's great-grandson. Don Cochrane is reviving the company with the Swiss-engineered M100, an upscale, modern version of the 1944 "Dirty Dozen" model.

£2,500. Vertex-watches.com

Blenheim London® Chronomaster Pilot Watch: A Watch Inspired by Aviation

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Ready for multi-role duty. Premium 316L marine grade metal, luminous watch hands and markers, Swiss made premium movement.

Ready for multi-role duty. Premium 316L marine grade metal, luminous watch hands and markers, Swiss made premium movement.

Aviation has been inspiring watch design since the first airplanes took flight. There is a close connection between the instrument panels used to monitor flight progress and the watch, and many watch designers have looked to aircraft for inspiration.

The Blenheim London Chronomaster Pilot Watch is inspired by the Blenheim bomber, a light bomber aircraft that was developed by the British Aeroplane Company. Used extensively during World War II, the plane was incredibly innovative and considered by many to be ahead of its time.

When designing the Blenheim London Chronomaster Pilot Watch, the creative minds at Blenheim London looked to the cockpit of the bomber plane. The dial of the watch closely resembles the instrument dials on the classic fighter plane, and the watch is driven by Swiss-made movements. From the dial to the strap, the timepiece reflects the traditions of military watch design.

Jaeger-Lecoultre Reverso dress Watch

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A long time ago, back in 1931, in a dusty vortex and to the accompaniment of horses’ hooves hammering, an idea was born: a watch with a dial that could protect itself from shocks, all the while offering a personalised engraved background.

Its reversible case, its pure, geometrical shapes and its instantly recognisable style place the Reverso firmly in the highly selective category of authentic fine watchmaking icons. This timeless classic appears here in a resolutely masculine large-size version. Its sleek elegance is highlighted by a refined silver-coloured or black dial with various finishes, while the transparent case-back reveals the movement.

Solo de Cartier, The best dressing watch

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When it comes to selecting a standout dress watch it's hard to beat

Cartier. Since the brand was founded in 1847 it has been worn by an impressive roster of uniquely stylish men - including Muhammad Ali, Andy Warhol and the impressively bearded King Edward VII - but the French horologist's designs are anything but old-timey. 

We're particularly fond of this black tie-ready Ronde Solo - based around a solid Cartier calibre 115A quartz movement, the talking points are the classic monochrome numerals, striking blue hands and an elegant sapphire-topped winding mechanism.

£1,725.www.cartier.co.uk

Why the Nato strap become popular?

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In the past few years it has become increasingly popular to wear your watch - particularly if it is a vintage military style - with the nylon wristband known as a Nato Strap. Technically speaking these were originally made to conform to the British Ministry of Defence Standard (or DefStan) 66-15.

 

Members of the military refer to them as G10s after its requisition form's reference number but the better-known moniker came about because it has a Nato stock number (NSN) on the strap. The original spec was a strap 280mm long, 20mm wide (now 18mm - and in case you're wondering all Nato armies use the metric system, even the Americans) and 12 heat-sealed adjustment holes plus chrome-plated brass fittings.

 

Today, these are supplied to the MoD by the Cabot Watch Company of Mile End, London. It was originally designed so that it could to be worn over or under clothing such as a flight suit or wetsuit and to keep the buckle away from the underside of the wrist, supposedly to prevent it catching on clothing - or weapons. The fact that the strap goes under the case also means that if one spring bar breaks the watch will still be attached to the wrist.

 

The original spec came in just one colour (Admiralty Grey) though today you can find any colour you wish, including versions in regimental or college colours. As a piece of movie legend, Sean Connery wore a tri-strip Nato strap as James Bond in Goldfinger ensuring that forever after it would have serious cred. 

 

Watch pictured from Francisandgaye, from £16.99.http://www.francisandgaye.co.uk/

Strap it on: Braun's new watch line

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In the history of 20th century product few companies have been as influential as Braun. First launched in Frankfurt in 1921, it started life as an electronics company manufacturing components for radio sets. But its glory days truly began when it went public in 1962 with the legendary Dieter Rams as head of design - a position he held until 1995.

Rams, who is now 82, is a leading light of the functionalist school of design, which championed an austere aesthetic where user friendliness was paramount. Along with his colleague Dietrich Lubs he created a series of iconic alarm clocks, culminating with the brilliantly simple AB312 travel clock that graced a million hotel bedside tables around the world in the late Eighties and beyond.

This month Braun has launched its latest line, a collection of new models inspired by the past as well as updates of Rams' classic designs. Coming in iterations with white, brown and black leather straps, not only are they up-to-the-moment minimal - teaching those whippersnapper brands such as Uniform Wares who their daddy is - but they've got a pleasingly industrial retro feel.

The result is somewhat reminiscent of the interior of the space station in the film 2001: A Space Odyssey, released in 1968. The spectacular set featured designs by such famous names as Arne Jacobsen, Eero Saarinen and Olivier Morgue - designs that are still sold in the most-cutting edge design stores today. And Braun has taken its cue from this: to be truly modern you have to go back to the future.

Bond wears the Omega Sea Master Aqua Terra in Spectre

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The release of Spectre is just days away - expect Bond to return to the big screen with some stellar wrist wear. To celebrate its twenty-year collaboration with the James Bond franchise, Omega has unveiled its latest collaborative piece, the Seamaster James Bond Aqua Terra Master Co-Axial 41.5m.

007 first sported the Swiss brand in 1995's Goldeneye(when Pierce Brosnan was on hand to do the honours) and to mark the arrival of Spectre in the autumn, Omega has produced a 1,5007-piece, limited-edition series of its acclaimed Seamaster Aqua Terra 150M, complete with anti-magnetic resistance to - you guessed it - 1,5007 gauss and featuring the spy's family coat of arms on its dial. 

£4,630. Available to buy in-store now at Omega at 373 Oxford St, London, W1C 2JR.