Is The New Garrick S4 The Best Foot Forward Of Modern British Watchmaking

Is The New Garrick S4 The Best Foot Forward Of Modern British Watchmaking

In a Nutshell: British watchmaking may be past its hay day, but artisans like David Brailsford and brands like Garrick are innovating to restore this former arena of fine watchmaking to its past glory. Their latest offering, the new Garrick S4, is the definition of elegant and bespoke horology that doesn’t break the bank. What’s more, all S4 timepieces are intended to be built to order. And all this with costs starting from only £4995 (including VAT). Let’s find out more… 

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What Is It

The new Garrick S4 was announced on January 27 this year. It is a 42mm diameter and 10mm thick watch in either 904L stainless steel or gold and features a modified ETA 6498 movement, an exhibition case-back, 100m water-resistance and a sapphire crystal with anti-reflective coating.

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It is an exceptional follow-up to 2020’s S3 that we reviewed here. It is from a young British brand that is getting to be known for its engine-turned dials, exclusive movements, skeleton or guilloché dials, use of thermally blued screws instead of chemically treated screws, collaborations with UhrTeil AG and Andreas Strehler, use of emblematic anchor-like (Maritime) hour and minute hands on dials, and the success of models such as Norfolk, Portsmouth and the Regulator. 

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Who Is It For 

Seasoned collectors and those watch enthusiasts who know bespoke from mass-produced will love these timepieces. It is a blessing for those who would be otherwise disappointed with generally high prices of higher-end hand-finished fine watches

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Breguet Britain Style 

Dave Brailsford joins an eminent list that includes the names of George Daniels, Roger Smith, Peter Speake-Marin and Stephen Forsey. In the 18th century, British inventors like Thomas Mudge and John Harrison helped shape modern watchmaking. London had been very much the centre of the watchmaking industry from the 16th to the 19th centuries, and many of the most important horological innovations came from British watchmakers. But over time the prowess of British watchmaking declined. 

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Now, the British watchmaking industry is in the midst of a boom; Garrick is a strong part of this wave and the S4 is designed to be quintessentially British. It is this almost unique mix of British legacy and the desire to create distinctive timepieces that defines Garrick. 

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That said, the consistent design language that I fell in love with with the previous models is somewhat missing this time. When I reviewed the Garrick S3 last year, I remember being totally mesmerised by it and recall saying that ‘when bespoke meets high horology: the new Garrick S3 is an excellent example of hand craftsmanship executed to perfection.’

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And while the perfectionist hand craftsmanship part is still true and at the very core of this British brand, there are a fair too many similarities between the Garrick S4 and the stereotypical Breguet design language.

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And as an architect, that bugs me. I admire the brand and the design language of their S1, Regulator, Shaftesbury and Hoxton timepieces as these I felt were more unique to the brand than the S4. 

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Now these are distinctively Garrick

As a homage piece to Breguet’s DNA, the Garrick S4 is an astonishing work of horological art, no doubt about that, and that too for a fraction of a price.

As a matter of fact, in our in-depth exclusive interview with Dave Brailsford last year, he talked about the Breguet-S4 connection and gave our readers a little preview. 

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“The S4 will be our next launch,” said Brailsford. 

“This watch will be similar to the S2 but will feature a Breguet-inspired dial. We have been working on it for some time and I think it is going to appeal to our followers”.

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The Hand-craftsmanship

Besides the customisation part, it is the dial that really is the star here; and unlike lots of brands that simply stamp dials, Garrick chooses to take the road less travelled (especially at this price point of under 5000 quid). 

The intricate and painstakingly laborious process is described by the brand in their own words as follows:

  • Garrick uses a lathe to create a brass disc
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  • Two feet are riveted to the underside of the dial blank which ultimately unite the dial with the movement. The dial blank is ‘flattened’ using fine abrasive paper in order to remove any burrs or imperfections, creating a smooth surface
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  • Next up, the dial is bead blasted. A chapter ring, effectively a circlet of metal, is paired with a smaller ring for the small seconds. These are then drilled, creating holes to facilitate fixing
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  • The chapter ring is clamped between two plates and baked at 300°C. This hardens the metal and removes any springiness
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  • After the chapter ring has cooled, it is ‘spun’ on a lathe, creating a motif termed ‘satiné circulaire’
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  • Furthermore, the hour track and minute track are delineated from one another with an engraved pattern called ‘sauté piqué’
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  • Laser engraving is used to impart Roman numerals to the chapter ring. The resultant recesses are then inked by hand using a special syringe pen. Once the ink has dried, the chapter ring is cleaned and spun again to remove any excess ink
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  • Upholding fine watchmaking practise, the Maritime hour and minute hands are heat-blued and the collet sat atop these hands is hand-polished to a brilliant conclusion
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  • The central area of the dial is frosted, while the small second’s display is suffused with an intricate hand-guilloché motif, executed on a traditional rose-engine lathe

How Does It Do 

Garrick burst on the watch scene about six years ago. Starting with the Shaftesbury and Hoxton timepieces, it quickly evolved into a brand featuring watches of increasing complexity and creativity. 

Hand-craftsmanship at affordable pricing is the key defining element, while the understated yet beautiful dials form the cherry on top.

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Personally, I would prefer the watch to be slightly smaller, perhaps 40mm in diameter. But as it stands, it measures 42mm in diameter. The noteworthy feature there is that while a vast majority of the brands these days use the 316L steel for the cases, Garrick has gone the Rolex way and the case is made from 904L stainless that provides superior scratch resistance and exhibits a notably brilliant gleam.

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Underneath this beautiful dial, nestled inside the case, ticks the brand’s calibre BF03. This movement is a modified ETA 6498 hand-wound movement that is tested and regulated to +3 deviation per day and features 19 jewels and provides with a decent 50-hour power reserve. The 36.6mm thick and 4.5mm thick calibre BF03 is inspired by old English pocket watches and features an engraved barrel and crown wheel cover along with a three-quarter plate and also includes a screwed balance. 

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The S4 is being released in a few variations, with options to customise, all soaked in the brand’s in-house watchmaking expertise. 

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The built to order options include the choice of a central dial (frosted or guilloché), the case material (steel or 18-carat gold), movement finishing (rhodium-plated or gold-plated), and straps (handmade alligator, calf leather or ostrich). 

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Parting Thoughts 

Extremely competitively priced, on one hand, the Garrick S4 timepieces are for those who would like to own an aesthetic piece of Breguet for the fraction of a price. On the other hand, the amount of hand-craftsmanship that has gone into these watches and the high bespoke factor they come with, these are for anyone who truly likes stunning wrist game and not just another diver.

Creating masterpieces where bespoke meets high horology, Garrick watches are an excellent example of hand craftsmanship executed to perfection. 

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The main calling card, the hand-craftsmanship at such an affordable cost is what’s special about this, and one aspect that makes it a worthy addition to any collection. It may be Breguet inspired, but it’s got enough charm to simply be considered one of the finest looking timepieces around Aussie 10K mark I have seen in a very long time. 

The guilloché at 6’o clock, the raised and brushed hour ring, the beautiful Roman numerals, the contrasting and legible blue hands, the execution of all speaks volumes about the impressiveness of this timepiece.

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To find out more about the Garrick S4 and other Garrick watches, visit their website here. All images unless otherwise stated COPYRIGHT © 2019 GARRICK MICHLMAYR GROUP. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

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