There's a new watchmaker in town! Based in London and founded by 28-year old Jonny Garrett, William Wood is a (relatively) new, sustainable brand with a unique take on watch design.
Garrett was inspired by the memory of his firefighting grandfather, so, in addition to the firefigher's helmet logo, each watch contains a piece of firefighting heritage melted into the crown – part of a 1920s London Fire Brigade brass helmet.
That's not all, though, straps for the latest collection are made from hand-cut British fire hose that has served the UK Fire and Rescue Service for over a decade (you can still smell the rich smokiness in the rubber), and a percentage of sales are donated to firefighting charities.
William Wood launched in 2016 with a Kickstarter campaign which raised £25,000 in less than a week. Now the brand has plans to convert a closed fire station into a showroom, and sells two watch collections, Chivalrous and Valiant.
The first collection, Chivalrous, is a dress watch that comes in five colours: Midnight Blue, British Racing Green, Rose Gold, Peacock Edition and Tuxedo Black.
It also boasts a commemorative coin made from a melted down 1920s brass firefighter’s helmet that is handcrafted in Hatton Garden, London’s jewellery quarter.
The brand's latest watch, Valiant, is a collection of five stainless steel automatic dive watches, featuring the famous straps and a host of unique features (and the watch we've reviewed).
The Valliant range comes in a range of five colours which take inspiration from the different watch colours of the UK Fire and Rescue Service: Blue Watch, Black Watch, Red Watch, White Watch and Rose Watch.
We love how almost every aspect of the watch is influenced by the brand's story. For example, the 12 o’clock indices represent the two collar markings on the lapel of a UK Fire and Rescue Service Crew Manager, while printed around the perimeter of the dial are the chequered markings from the side of a British Fire Engine.
The sweeping second-hand's counterbalance takes inspiration from the chime inside a vintage fire bell, while the double-domed sapphire crystal glass gives the entire watch a pleasing vintage aesthetic.
The watch features a sturdy, uni-directional rotating bezel, traditionally used by divers for oxygen capacity, but it can be used for a firefighter’s oxygen tank.
Super-LumiNova on the indices, hands and bezel means you can follow the time no matter how dark an environment, and this premium timepiece is water-resistant up to 100m.
It comes with a choice of either Swiss ETA 2824 Automatic or Japan Seiko NH35 Automatic Movement.
We were really impressed with the watch's build quality, especially considering its affordable price point. It feels like it could definitely make it out of a burning building unscathed.
We also really like the straps made from recycled fire hoses – they're incredibly comfortable and a great talking point.
The only thing we feel lets this watch down is the legibility, the combination of the double-domed sapphire and checkerboard minute track creates quite a psychedelic effect, making precise time telling difficult.
Overall though, we love the story of these watches, especially considering that a percentage of every sale is donated to the UK’s Fire Fighters Charity, which provides mental, physical and social support to the firefighting community.
The Valiant Collection retails from £695 and the Chivalrous Collection from £345.