The Garrick Portsmouth Demonstrates This Young Brand’s Past And Future
Partnerships can be a transformative element in the corporate world. The biggest and most innovative companies often enter into deals, agreements, or mergers to create something bigger and better than before.
In telecommunications, this began with hundreds of small telegraph and telephone companies slowly merging to expand what was a small, sparsely distributed network into a nationwide system allowing people from across countries to communicate instantly.
Within the watch industry, the most famous example is the creation of the Swatch Group out of the merger between the Société Suisse pour l’Industrie Horlogère (SSIH) and the Allgemeine Gesellschaft der Schweizerischen Uhrenindustrie (ASUAG), which were already merged corporations comprising smaller specialist organizations focused on watch component manufacture.
While those are examples of huge partnerships, the majority of partnerships are simpler: one company agreeing to help create something with another company. Almost all manufacturing is done via partnerships these days, to the point where – for some companies – other manufacturers make almost every component offsite and only the final assembly is directed by the brand behind the product or even just branding, marketing and sales.
Electronics, cars, clothing, you name it: they are all based on business partnerships. There are many more horizontally integrated companies than there are vertically integrated ones.
It’s tough to be a company like Rolex or Apple, which produce a large majority of components and products in their own factories. It is much easier to enter into business partnerships with specialists to make the best product possible.
It’s also is one of the smartest and most financially sound ways to build a watch company from scratch these days.
Garrick, a young British watch company that entered the watch world in 2014, is doing just that. And its latest release, the Portsmouth, brings in a heavy hitter with loads of pedigree to boost the brand up a notch.
Strehler is an independent watchmaker with Harry Winston Opus pedigree and one who has officially produced the world’s most accurate moon phase watch (find out more about the Lune Exacte in Predictions In The Calendar Category Of The 2016 Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève).
The new partnership with Strehler builds on the niche English-style watches for which Garrick is becoming known. At the same time, it introduces a new movement slated to become the base for the brand’s future developments.
The Garrick Portsmouth builds on success
The latest watch from the British micro-brand Garrick debuted at SalonQP 2016 to a healthy dose of excitement. Not only because the people who love what Garrick does were excited to see something new, but because Garrick had teamed up with an industry star to produce a new manufacture-esque movement.
Caliber UT-G01 was designed and developed by Strehler and his company UhrTeil AG, specialists in micromechanics and horological development and prototyping.
The movement was designed to emphasize the in-house free sprung balance that Garrick has featured on previous watches courtesy of lead watchmaker Simon Michlmayr. Here, the free sprung balance has been moved to the front of the movement, allowing the display back to showcase the beefy balance bridge and smaller pallet fork bridge, a very cool ratchet and click spring, all in a simple pocket watch style inspired by historical English watchmaking.
The movement, minus the free sprung balance, was manufactured at UhrTeil AG, and then finished, assembled, and regulated (to +3 seconds/day) by Garrick.
Stylistically, the Portsmouth is a descendant of the earlier Norfolk model, which saw a decidedly English design arise from a lineup of good-looking but thematically ambiguous predecessors.
The Norfolk introduced elements not seen on earlier Garrick models such as “maritime” hands inspired by the shape of an anchor, even more minimal hour, minute, and second markers, and a distinctive nameplate on the dial bearing the brand’s name.
Though of a much different quality, the feels of the Norfolk, and now the Portsmouth, are more akin to something a young Roger Smith might have made, or any independent watchmaker looking to handcraft a traditionally inspired timepiece.
This new direction has definitely provoked a fair share of detractors’ opinions online, but of course building a new, strong identity into a watch design three models after a brand’s launch is a risky thing: standing out means you are visible, for better and for worse.
The name plaque and unusual hands will undoubtedly become signatures of the brand, something that I can appreciate as unique to Garrick. In all, the Portsmouth takes the new direction of the Norfolk and turns it into an even more exclusive type of watch.
Details and determination in the Caliber UT-G01
Thanks to the help of UhrTeil AG and new Caliber UT-G01, the Portsmouth is set to become the first Garrick watch that defines the company as a watchmaker first and foremost: the Portsmouth is the watch that determines a new direction, one on course to define the “Garrick” style by doing away with the previously utilized Unitas movements and filling the case with something worth lusting after.
And when Andreas Strehler gets involved, that lusting becomes even stronger.
The UT-G01 is a simple three-handed time only movement, but constructed as if it were made in 1816 instead of 2016. A heavy three-quarter plate, a very stout balance bridge, and the baby-sized pallet fork bridge make up a majority of the movement view from the rear. More than half a dozen jewels and the winding mechanism are what fill in the rest.
The winding mechanism is straightforward, but the ratchet and click make up the most stylized part of the movement. This actually follows with classic pocket watches and independently developed movements based on standard architecture.
When watchmakers look for ways to add their own flourish into a watch while keeping the construction pretty simple, it seems the ratchet and click are the first point of exploration. The design of these two components demonstrates that even when simple will do, there can be expression of skill and creativity in the smallest of places.
I’ve stated before that I absolutely love when attention is paid to this little mechanism, because it has no need to be complicated or extravagant. But as we can see here, it can be made beautiful in its simplicity.
This, along with the treatment of the new UT-G01, compliments the skill and craftsmanship already going into the free sprung balance that the movement was built around. A cutout in the dial of the Portsmouth showcases the triple counterweighted balance that has been at the heart of nearly every Garrick watch since the beginning.
The angular design of the balance bridge cuts the dial across the bottom and almost appears like a bow wrapping a present. The running seconds, in a less than common position at 10 o’clock, mostly balances out the dial cutout, and with the Garrick name plaque spanning the space between them the dial is almost symmetrical in a twisted sort of way.
“Bespoke,” they spoke . . .
The dial background is one of the main places that detractors have focused on, with its very strong repeated pattern of the word ENGLAND in four directions. This, as the brand itself states, was to demonstrate its ability to customize the dial, including details that could be added.
The intent was for the dial to be a customizable main feature for each prospective customer since Garrick offers a “bespoke” service extending to many parts of the watch and engravings.
I personally find the engraving to fit in context with the watch, though I would definitely prefer a plain white grand feu enamel dial like the one found on the Norfolk. In the end, though, the design is meant to be bold and patriotically demonstrative of the brand’s heritage and inspiration.
The direction of the Portsmouth not only continues the theme begun by the Norfolk, but illustrates Garrick’s desire to move toward greater independence and control over its manufacturing process. The partnership with UhrTeil AG is a strong change that has the potential to help build Garrick into a more rounded watch brand.
Granted the movements are still Swiss, but getting help from one of the best in the business is nothing to be ashamed of. I for one am excited to see where the partnership goes, and what the Portsmouth portends for the future.
Until then, for me the Portsmouth has become the best Garrick timepiece to date, lighting the way for more awesome things to come!
While we wait for those, how about breaking this down?
- Wowza Factor * 8.4 The styling is bold, those hands are in your face, but what wows more is knowing the movement was made in collaboration with Andreas Strehler and UhrTeil AG.
- Late Night Lust Appeal * 84.0 » 823.758 m/s2 Lust appeal is strong for this one given the provenance of the movement, the bold English style, and the ability to customize it!
- M.G.R. * 60.8 Andreas Strehler and UhrTeil AG are really all you need to know, but the in-house free sprung balance from watchmaker Simon Michlmayr adds even more to an already cool movement!
- Added-Functionitis * N/A Some of the coolest watches tend to be time only and, alas, we have another one. No need for any Gotta-HAVE-That cream for this stylish, bold English gentleman.
- Ouch Outline * 9.1 Superglue in a cut between your fingers! A stinging truth if there ever was one: the pain ends quickly enough, but my desire to get my hands on a Portsmouth doesn’t! I’d gladly take this lamentable situation for a chance to find one on my wrist.
- Mermaid Moment * Partnered with who?! I enjoyed Garrick’s products before, but after this partnership was announced I went from “Let’s browse some rings, dear” to “Is the Winchester Estate free for the third Saturday in May?”
- Awesome Total * 531 Multiply the number of hours in the power reserve (45) to the total number adjusting weights on the free sprung balance (3), then add the diameter of the case in millimeters (42) and multiply the result by the maximum rate deviation per day (+3 seconds) for a respectably awesome total!
For more information, please visit www.garrick.co.uk/the-portsmouth.
Case: 42 x 11 mm, 316L stainless steel
Movement: manual winding Caliber UT-G01 made in partnership with Andreas Strehler and UhrTeil AG
Functions: hours, minutes, seconds