On London time: George Bamford

Anna Prendergast

1 November 2019

Modification maverick George Bamford’s latest custom watch collaboration illustrates exactly why his strength lies in colouringoutside the lines

1 November 2019 | Anna Prendergast

The concept behind Bamford Watch Department’s latest collaboration with jewellery designer Black Badger started around 50 years ago – before either company existed, and when custom wristwatches were as futuristic as a Flux Capacitor. In 1970s Michigan, Ford factories would spray car components with layer upon layer of primer, paints and topcoats, resulting in overspray building up on mounting equipment over the years. By happy accident it was discovered that by cutting into the resulting material, known as Fordite (or Motor City agate), psychedelic patterns revealed themselves, much like geological rock. Back to London in 2019, and the collaboration between Bamford and Black Badger has produced ten exclusive TAG Heuer Carrera Calibre 5 watches with ‘Fordite’ dials.

Why work with Black Badger?

My approach with these things is never ‘Is this going to be good for business?’ but ‘I know we’re going to make something amazing’. I met James Thompson [founder of Black Badger] about five years ago – I think what he does is so cool. I’m sure this will be the first project of a few. Do you know what kind of cars would have been sprayed in this way? We’d like to think it was a Ford GT or a Mustang, but in reality it would take months to track down the individual models. Each layer acts as a snapshot in time – which makes it incredibly fitting for a watch.

Why so few watches?

The material is so delicate – if it flexes, it will break, so each one took a long time. It felt right to keep it to 10 based on how long it took the material to develop, and how long each one took to manufacture.

Two of the ten limited-edition BWD X Black Badger 'Fordite' Tag Heuer Carrera Calibre 5s

Why did you choose the TAG Heuer Carrera Calibre 5?

I love the Carrera – the simplicity of the case, the chamfered edges – and the window just worked so well.

What is your favourite way to spend time in London?

I love the world that exists in Hyde Park, from the sports to the ice cream vans. When you run around the park you realise how beautiful the city is. I love going on a voyage of discovery around Borough Market and Dover Street. There’s a new chocolate shop, Marchesi 1824, that just opened opposite The Connaught – I don’t even eat sugar, but it’s exquisite.

Marchesi 1824

How will the watch industry adapt to an ever-increasing demand for sustainable products?

A watch lasts for generations – it is the opposite of fast fashion. Many companies are working with recycled materials, the perishable components like straps will be improved. Customisation also takes something out of the trend cycle – the product becomes yours, which means you’ll develop a better relationship with it and appreciate it for longer.

Tag Heuer Monaco by Bamford

What are your favourite menswear haunts in London?

I have a bit of a sneaker collection and I predominantly wear trainers, but George Cleverley is developing something with a trainer bottom for me at the moment. Nick Foulkes introduced me to Budd Shirts, and I really love their attitude and their attention to detail. I tend to go to Caraceni in Italy for tailoring, but I love what Huntsman does. I’m so excited that Double RL has just opened in Carnaby as well, I really missed it after the Mount Street store closed.

How do you feel about Brexit?

I feel like the city has got to a point where we just need to get on with it – it’s happening, and bemoaning Boris Johnson won’t move it forward.

As someone who works so closely with time, how’s your punctuality?

I’m too optimistic – I’ll always leave the absolute minimum time required to get somewhere. As soon as I’m late, it messes up my whole day – it’s a domino effect. As you can probably tell, I also like to chat, so that doesn’t help!

Zenith El Primero Revival X Bamford and MR PORTER