George Bamford was having one of those moments that puts life in complete perspective. Afterwards, thankfully with everything back in alignment, he had a very clear understanding of the way forward. For many years, he had achieved amazing success by creating exactly the type of watches that the major brands wouldn’t make, primarily because the majority of these brands are still led by elderly Calvinist conservative boards of directors that are out of touch with the tastes of the modern consumer. Bamford, however, was more than just tapped into the zeitgeist. He was the catalyst to the change, the man making manifest the inchoate subconscious desires of the modern multitudes. But by modifying their watches, by stripping them down, coating them black, designing new dial themes with a nod to heritage, while also hooking us into the future, he had drawn the ire of the big brands. And in so doing, he created a situation where no watch modified by him could be serviced at one of their official service centers. Bamford overcame that particular hurdle by creating his own service center for his Bamford timepieces. But then he met Swiss watchmaking’s greatest living genius, the incomparable Jean-Claude Biver, who put it to Bamford like this, “Why do you want to create watches with brands that hate you, when you can create watches with brands that love you?”
And with that, a new era for Bamford was born, where he would only create watches with brands that have sanctioned him as their official modifier. In 2017, Bamford unveiled this philosophy by kicking things off with Zenith watches. And suddenly, Zenith, which has always been a cerebral and technically extraordinary brand, was given a massive boost by the Bamford cool factor. His TIPO-CP2 Chronograph with black steel case and khaki accents and matching khaki NATO strap, is one of the most damnably sexy watches in all of Christendom and was a very strong contender for the Revolution Best Design award. And then suddenly Zenith had it all — not only the most iconic chronograph movement in the world, but now it also has the drop-dead good looks that gave us a ballistic missile-grade horological hard-on. Bamford followed this up unveiling modified Bulgari Octo watches and in October 2017, he announced his partnership with TAG Heuer as well. It is clear that with the holy LVMH Group triumvirate in place, Bamford now has the credibility to approach other brands. Who’s next? Omega? Audemars Piguet? The now Georges Kern-helmed Breitling? It seems only a matter of time before the list grows considerably longer. And in so doing, Bamford will transcend the status of a modifier and become one of the most engaging brands in his own right.
Because Bamford is more than a modifier. He is the herald of great ensuing change coming. Today, no one wants a product that is uniform. They want products that respect their individuality. It is for this reason that the most exciting designers today, such as Rob Dickinson of Singer Porsche, Charlie Stockwell of Warr’s Harley-Davidson and George Bamford, are the bannermen of the cult of individuality. Because each person has a specific vision of the way they would order their universe according to their own subjectivity. Would you ask someone to live in a home whose interior was a faceless facsimile repeated mimetically over and over? If not, then why would you apply this philosophy to your watch? Because of all that he’s achieved in going legit, George Bamford is our 2017 Revolutionary of the Year.