There were plenty of big reveals at this year’s SalonQP, where Robert Loomes and his Stamford watch joined the small circle of British watchmakers with the distinction that they make their own movements. Until Loomes’ Stamford, this had in fact been a circle of one, with Roger Smith as its sole member. There is, however, the distinct possibility that the circle may soon stretch to three in the person of Simon Michlmayr, a well-respected and Swiss-trained watchmaker who, alongside David Brailsford, set up Garrick Watch Company in 2014.
The first Garrick watch was fitted with a Swiss hand-wound movement that Michlmayr reworked and hand-finished, and equipped with his own regulating organ. Now Garrick has raised the bar with the Portsmouth, introduced this year and for which Simon Michlmayr has created his own movement, produced in collaboration with independent watchmaker Andreas Strehler in Biel, Switzerland. The Portsmouth calibre, which has been designed so that complications can be added, has its sprung balance on the dial side, which makes it an extremely characterful watch. All parts other than the balance are machined by Strehler’s studio, Uhr Teil, then assembled and finished by Garrick in Norwich, England.
David Brailsford, quoted in The Telegraph, rues the lack of demand among British collectors: “There has been so much speculation about British watchmaking that it’s led to a certain cynicism here. Internationally, collectors look into things more objectively,” he says. “‘Britishness’ is a big thing at the moment, and they’re looking for that if they can find it.” And who can blame them?