Not one, not two, but three. TAG Heuer has joined LVMH stablemates Bulgari and Zenith in giving Bamford Watch Department latitude to personalise its products to suit customers’ desires, or as George Bamford himself sees fit. “This partnership with TAG Heuer is a very important stage in our development,” declares Bamford, who founded the company, based in Mayfair, London, in 2003. “The brand is currently under the stewardship of Jean-Claude Biver. The industry looks up to him and so not only is it recognition of our work, it also means we are heading in the right direction. Luxury today means personalisation.”
The deal effectively starts a new chapter for the company, which has agreed not to work with other brands except on a contractual basis. “We’re coming out of the shadows,” jokes George Bamford, for many years the enfant terrible of watchmaking – the man who dared to dabble with Rolexes, Omegas and Panerais without so much as a by-your-leave. Some brands were less than amused by this unwanted attention. Customers, on the other hand, didn’t take much convincing, particularly as the quality of the watches coming out of the Bamford workshops has never been anything less than irreproachable. Not to mention the growing conviction that luxury must be given the personalisation treatment in order to be truly authentic.
The one that got away
“We need to relearn how to talk to the customer,” Bamford continues. “In fact, in the social media age we need to develop new ways to interact, and never lose sight of what makes the customer happy. People want objects that are unique, made-to-order, personalised. Why has vintage become so popular in recent years? Because these are objects that have a story to tell. The things we wear on our person, including our watch, are still the best means of standing apart from the crowd, of showing who we are. Hence why we should be offering new possibilities, and what could be better than a personalised watch, the ultimate symbolic object. Otherwise the world would be a terribly dull place. The more I study luxury, the more I see personalisation gain in importance.”
By way of illustration, he cites the Omega Speedy Tuesday sale of watches inspired by the Speedmaster “Alaska Project III” to mark the fifth anniversary of #SpeedyTuesday, a hashtag started by fratellowatches.com. For those whose memory needs a jog, all 2,012 watches were reserved online in a little over four hours: that’s one every seven seconds. “Think of all those who weren’t lucky enough to get one. Imagine how frustrating it must have been. And on the supply side, imagine the potential for those who position themselves in the “watch you might not get” niche. For us, it’s unhoped-for. Particularly as we haven’t become a division of LVMH. We still have our independence and our freedom, which is essential for creativity.” How long before Hublot joins its fellow LVMH watch brands at Bamford Watch Department?