For the first time in a week, the sun came out over Mayfair as journalists descended on The Hive, Bamford Watch Department’s Kingsman-style HQ. Most people attending the press call already knew, or could take an educated guess, what the announcement would be – in fact Revolution hinted strongly at it when we covered the news of the Zenith collaboration back in June – but that did not dampen the enthusiasm that always accompanies a meeting with the man once painted as the enfant terrible of the watch world.
And, of course, Bamford – who for the past 14 years has given us tricked-out versions of everything from Rolexes to Audemars Piguets and Patek Philippes – did not disappoint. Endearingly, the man who many see as the Willy Wonka of the watch world was more like the proverbial kid in the candy store as he pressed play on a video that had just arrived from Geneva. Seeing it for the first time with his assembled journalists, Bamford was visibly moved as LVMH Head of Watches Jean-Claude Biver appeared on the screen declaring:
“I love George and admire and respect what he is doing. And he is a gentleman, a great man, so for those reasons I am so happy that we are now partners. I love to be partners with great people – only by having such partners can you lift yourself. I always say, if you employ people, you must employ better people than you, because if you have weaker people than you around, how can they help? They cannot. George is one of these great guys I am surrounded with and I say to him ‘Bravo for what you do. Bravo for your passion. Bravo for your creativity. Bravo for your innovative spirit. Bravo for your entrepreneurship.’”
Testament to the strengthening relationship between Bamford and Biver, less than four months after the announcement that Zenith would supply watches to BWD to use as blank canvases for customisation, TAG Heuer has now joined the ranks of timepieces that will be legitimately “Bamfordised” with PVD’d cases and bracelets, blacked out dials and pops of colour on dials and straps. The TAG customisation will offer clients a choice of 52 billion options – a figure apparently worked out by the cleverest of statisticians – all available to configure through the BWD website. Created pieces will also be available to buy through BWD stockists such as Dover Street Market. Prices are available on request.
Of the continuing friendship and working arrangement, Bamford says: “I am doing what I have always done but now we are using a different base. You once asked me how it felt to be disliked by the main brands that I worked on. Well, it felt horrible. Then, two years ago, I met Jean-Claude Biver and he suggested that we start working together. I love what Jean-Claude is doing – he is the most dynamic person and he has his finger on the pulse. The TAG announcement is not a surprise – people knew that it was happening – but for me it is so cool. I have Zenith and TAG and I am working with them and creating something special. That is the coolest thing.
“And for me it is so exciting to work with watch brands that love me and what I am doing – I feel like I’ve been hugged by the Swiss watch industry and it has given me a buzz, making me truly excited about what I am doing again. I’m not outside the frame any more, although I can still do what I want. I will be able to offer total personalisation of watches”
The (almost) last words belong to Biver: “I could go on with the compliments but really from the depth of my heart I say thank you to George. I know that this project will have a great future. We need you George, the brand needs you., our customers need you, your customers need you too. So, I am, so pleased we are opening a new way of collaboration. It’s a new horizon and, as my friend Swizz Beats tells me, the sky is not the limit, it’s just a vision. We are going to do great things together.”
And for George that is now two out of three Biver brands that he is partnering with. With one more to go – possibly the trickiest of all as it is already ground-breaking in terms of crazy material development. Says George: “Hublot? Everyone has asked me about that, but for now I’m focusing on what I have.” At Revolution, we are hedging our bets and are predicting possible Hublot/BWD project in 2018.