Watch customiser George Bamford has signed a deal with Zenith to become the official producer of bespoke timepieces for the brand. Bamford, the son of JCB chairman Anthony Bamford, set up the Bamford Watch Department (BWD) in 2003 with the aim of creating unique versions of contemporary watches. BWD has forged an impressive reputation with its design tweaks, in particular for its Rolex sports models with a special black finish based on military-grade titanium coating.
However, Bamford’s creations were never endorsed by Rolex, meaning that the newly announced Zenith deal marks the first time BWD has been officially authorised by a Swiss watch brand to customise its watches. On BWD’s own website, buyers can even use a new Zenith-endorsed watch-customising tool, while the alterations will continue to be made by BWD’s specialist watchmakers and designers at the firm’s Mayfair base.
Customisation possibilities include different colours for hands, dials and markings, as well as various case finishes and strap options. Prices vary according to the base watch model and the level of work required. For example, the retro Cronometro Tipo CP2, inspired by Zenith’s emblematic military Cairelli chronograph designed for the Italian airforce in the 1960s, has been strikingly reimagined as the Zenith Pilot Chrono Tipo CP2 (£9,000) in matte black with army-green marking and hands, while another version, called the Zenith Type 20 Pilot Crono Ton Up Aqua (£8,500), again makes use of BWD’s signature black with accents in aqua blue.
The partnership was originally mooted by LVMH watch boss Jean-Claude Biver, who stepped in as interim CEO of Zenith in January after expressing concerns about the brand’s performance in recent years. Bamford says it is “one of the most significant steps” his business has taken and sees it as a validation for his customisation concept. And since Biver is looking to create “greater synergies” between Zenith and its stablemates Tag Heuer and Hublot, this could mean good news for Bamford if the initial tie-in goes well.