One thing that is becoming increasingly important and appreciated in the world of microbrands; and the dive watch portion specifically, is originality. Let’s not beat around the bush here; people are sick and tired of brands who release a diver that looks almost identical to a Submariner, but is subtly different enough for it to not be a complete copy. What is gratefully appreciated is the efforts of brands such as Yema, Ming, and the brand that I am going to be talking about today, William Wood.
Some of the other microbrand offerings... from MING and Yema. Photo Credit: Hodinkee, MING & Fratello
For a bit of background, William Wood was started two years ago by Jonny Garrett. Jonny was inspired to start the brand to commemorate his Grandfathers career as a Firefighter. William Wood, the grandfather in question, was a firefighter with a decorated 25-year career. In June of 1966, he and three other firefighters saved a group of small children all under the age of 5 from a serious house fire for which they were all commended. And Jonny has decided to start this brand in his honour!
The Man who started it all! Photo Credit: William Wood Watches
Outside of the brand being a tribute to Jonny's late grandfather, the watches are also direct tributes to the firefighting heritage. We have been lucky enough to get our hands on the Rose Watch from the valiant collection and suffice to say we have been very impressed.
The watch is a traditionally styled dive watch. It comes in at 41mm, however having worn it, it wears closer to 39mm. It also features a traditional dive time bezel and 200m water resistance. However, the key design traits that make this watch so special stem from its nod to the ethos of the brand, so let's take a look.
In order to commemorate the firefighting heritage of this piece, there are a number of subtle design cues. Take the logo as an example. In order to pay homage, the logo is a side angle view of a 1920's brass firefighters helmet, applied here in rose gold. Outside of this being the logo that harks back to the ethos of the brand, the logo itself is subtle but gorgeous. The vintage inspired playfulness of the helmet, coupled with the subtle text below make for an understated but attention-grabbing feature. This logo is also present on the crown. Whilst this may not seem like anything groundbreaking, the amount of watch companies in this price range who do not invest the time and effort to sign crowns shows the attention to detail taken by William Wood. Whilst other aspects of the watches design gives a vintage feel, this attention to detail shows that this watch is a serious piece.
The wonderful Firefighter helmet logo. A charming detail
The nod to the firefighting heritage does not stop there. I was listening recently to an episode of the TriWatches Podcast, started by a good friend of ours. The episode I was listening to was centred around the ability to customise ones watch with straps and the expression of oneself that can be achieved through creative strap choices. Whilst stingray and cork were thrown about, I would say that the straps used by William Wood leave all of those for dead. What William Wood does is supply a rubber strap with their watches, but not any old rubber strap. Every rubber strap supplied by William Wood is inlaid with a piece of reclaimed firehouse that was actually used by the Fire Brigade. Not only does it look brilliant, but when wearing it, it is a constant reminder of the inspiration that lead to the creation of this brand in the first place. The straps are incredibly comfortable, and whilst the bracelet is brilliant, I could not take this watch off of the rubber straps.
The proof is in the pudding... These rubber straps are brilliant
A crucial consideration for any of us when eying up a potential new watch purchase is how comfortable the watch is day-to-day. I, for example, wear a suit and tie 5 days a week, and would usually wear a Rolex Submariner in the process. Despite being my favourite watch, I gravitate towards it against my other watches because it is incredibly comfortable. Whilst it doesn't slide under my shirt cuff in the same way that say; a tank would, it sits perfectly, and sometimes I even forget that I have it on. The Rose Watch fits into exactly the same category. The watch is a perfect size in my opinion. The case proportions are perfect, there is no risk on my wrist of the lugs overhanging, and coupled with the aforementioned rubber strap, it wears like a dream.
This watch is stunning... Wears superbly, and the subtle gold accents give it a dressy edge...
We have been; and continue to, review a lot of watches. And for this, we are extremely grateful. Through this, we end up wearing press pieces for extended periods. For me, this makes me look at the watch In a different light. I do not wear them like any other piece from my collection, I am constantly looking at them with the purpose of evaluating whether I could see the watch owning a spot in my watch box. Having had and enjoyed this watch for some weeks now, I can safely say that I can completely see it being part of my collection. It has an original design, versatility, and a back story that not only evokes thoughts of my admittedly very different relationship with my own Grandfather but of the special relationship that we all have with the watches that we wear on a daily basis.
This watch is brilliant, and I would encourage you all to check out William Wood Watches. They continue to make amazing watches as well as brilliant charitable donations, and with the watches that they have in the pipeline, are certainly a brand to keep your eye on in the near future.
I would like to thank Jonny for letting me get to know this fantastic watch over the past four weeks, and I cannot wait to see what comes next.
Editor and Co-Founder
The Young Horologist