Once upon a time, Britain was a world leader in watchmaking. Back in the start of the 19th Century, half of the roughly 200,000 watches produced around the world each year, were made in Britain. That was the peak for Britain: by 1900, those production numbers had halved. Today, the words watchmaking and Britain are rarely heard in the same sentence. Most watch purchases, particularly luxury watch purchases, in the UK are from Swiss brands like Rolex, Omega, and Patek Philippe.
But British watchmaking hasn’t declined completely, and a trip to the UK is a fantastic opportunity to scout out some of Britain’s best watchbrands – both new and old.
In this article, we look at a broad range of different watchmakers. Some make watches that cost £100, others make watches that cost more than £100,000. All of them have one thing in common, however: they are unmistakably British.
Bremont is a name that many luxury shoppers and readers of upmarket lifestyle magazines like GQ will be aware of. The company, which launched in 2007, has quickly grown to become a name that’s internationally known.
Bremont is based in Henley-on-Thames, a small town in Oxfordshire where its thirty-person workshop is located. From here, the company produces the ten thousand or so watches it sells per year – all of which are assembled by hand.
As one of the top luxury watch brands worldwide, Bremont is not cheap: most models cost between £2,500 and £30,000. If it’s a luxury timepiece that you’re looking for, though, you won’t find anything that’s much more luxurious than this.
Bremont has a boutique in Mayfair, one of London’s most upmarket neighborhoods, and also near the London Stock Exchange in the City of London. You can also order them from luxury online retailers such as Mr Porter and Jura Watches.
Can’t quite stretch your budget for a new one? Take a look at watchfinder.co.uk, which sells pre-owned Bremont watches.
- Address: Bremont Boutique, 29 South Audley Street, London W1K 2PE, United Kingdom
- Website: https://www.bremont.com
Mr Jones makes watches that are anything but conventional. Fun, quirky, and sometimes just plain odd, you’re unlikely to run into anyone else with a timepiece as unique as these.
Although production runs are often limited to a few hundred pieces, prices are reasonable: a Mr Jones watch will typically set you back somewhere between £100 and £200.
Mr Jones is based in London, and they have a shop at Tower Wharf near Blackfriars Bridge. If you’re unable to make it to their store in London, they deliver worldwide. You can also buy their products from online retailers like watchco.com and watches.com.
- Address: Mr Jones Watches, Unit 1.11 (First Floor, River side) Oxo Tower Wharf, Bargehouse Street London, SE1 9PH
- Website: https://mrjoneswatches.com
Newgate Watches is an independent British watch brand that’s inspired by the streets of London and cities throughout the UK. The studio takes inspiration from vintage watch designs, incorporating them into the modern, stylish timekeepers. Newgate watches are available at stockists all over the UK and Ireland, as well as at online retailers like Asos.com.
- Website: https://newgatewatches.com
O.W.L (Our Watch Label)
Our Watch Label is a relatively new British startup that specializes in British-designed and British-made watches. Located in the North East of England, the watches are named after towns and cities across the UK. Watches are affordable, with most pieces costing between £100 and £200.
- Address: OWL GREAT BRITAIN Ground Floor Masonic Hall Building Mill Street Sutton Coldfield B72 1TJ
- Website: https://www.owlwatches.com/
Robert Loomes is a clock restorer based in Stamford who has recently begun producing his own watches, all of which are made entirely from British-made materials. Loomes only produces a select number of watches per year – roughly four hundred in total. This exclusivity means the watches are not cheap: you can expect to pay somewhere between £3,000 and £18,000 for a Robert Loomes watch.
- Address: Loomes & Co. 4 St Mary’s Hill Stamford Lincolnshire PE9 2DP
- Website: https://www.loomeswatches.com
Robert Loomes may only make a small number of watches per year, but Roger Smith makes even less: just 10-12 watches. Considering some of his watches cost as much as a quarter of a million pounds, he doesn’t need to make that many to live comfortably.
Roger Smith and his team of six watchmakers are located in the Isle of Man, an island that’s situated between the North of England and Northern Ireland. You won’t find a shop there, which doesn’t really matter anyway as there’s a four-year waiting list to get one of his watches.
- Website: http://www.rwsmithwatches.com
Joseph & Thomas Windmills
J & T Windmills is a small watch producer, based in London, that produces roughly five hundred watches per year. Founded in 2006, J & T Windmills is still a relatively new company but one that’s gaining a reputation for its affordably-priced watches: most watches are priced at somewhere between £600 and £1,500.
- Website: https://secure.jandtwindmills.com
Shore Projects is a small, independent upstart that’s inspired by the fun of the British seaside. The watches are influenced by vintage designs but are crafted using modern manufacturing techniques which even allows them to be used in the sea.
Most watches are priced at £115, making them one of the most affordable watch brands in the UK. The straps – which can easily be changed allowing you to regularly change the look of your watch – start from £20.
- Website: https://www.shoreprojects.com
Garrick is a small watch producer, based in Norfolk in England, that produces approximately eighty watches per year. The watches have a distinctly British feel for them that’s guaranteed to appeal to watch collectors and horological aficionados.
- Website: https://www.garrick.co.uk
Schofield is a British watchmaker that’s based in East Sussex in the South of England. The watch is made from as many British parts as possible although, as with a few other UK-based watchmakers, some parts are imported from overseas.
Schofield watches have a very modern design, which is a very different aesthetic to the more traditional feel that most British watchmakers go for.
Watches start from around £3,000, and Schofield typically produces around five hundred watches per year.
- Website: https://schofieldwatchcompany.com
Cabot Watch Company
Cabot Watch Company is a small watchmakers that was formed in 1972 to make watches for the British Forces. As such the watches have a military theme and are best-suited to hikers, sports enthusiasts, and those who love military-themed products.
The first watches produced by the Cabot Watch Company were the Mechanical GS Navigator and the Pilots Mechanical Asymmetrical Chronograph. Since then, CWC has gone on to produce a wide catalogue of watches. All of these are robust and reasonably-priced, with timepieces starting at around £100 and working their way up to the £1,500 price point.
- Address: Cabot Watch Company 422 – 426 Mile End Road, Mile End London E1 4PE
- Website: https://www.cwcwatch.com
A. L. Dennison, born in 1812 in the United States, founded the Waltham Watch Company which grew to be one of the largest watch makers in the US at the time. After spending some time in Switzerland, Denison moved to Birmingham in the Midlands where he set up shop producing high-quality watch cases. Although production ended in 1965, Dennison re-entered the watchmaking business in 2015. Today, Dennison produce roughly fifty to one hundred watches each year. These typically cost between £2,000 and £3,000.
- Address: Dennison Watches, 64 Knightsbridge, London, SW1X 7JF, United Kingdom
- Website: https://dennisonwatches.com/
Hoptroff London is a small producer of incredibly accurate classic-styled and sports-styled watches: watches are accurate to one second every thousand years. The small, boutique company was established in 2010 by Richard Hoptroff who previously worked in the technology industry and at Oxford University.
Watches prices vary depending on the piece: prices start at around £200 but can cost as much as £20,000.
- Website: https://www.hoptroff.com
Established in 2013, Oxfordshire-based Pinion produces around five hundred watches per year. The watches are made from high-quality Swiss movements, usually in batches of a hundred, at the company’s premises in Henley-on-Thames.
To view the collection, you will need to make an appointment to visit Pinion either in Oxfordshire or in London.
- Website: https://pinionwatches.com/
Did you visit any of these British watchmakers while you were in the UK? Let us know about your experience by leaving a comment below.