In my book, when a brand is designing a watch with a large case and multiple sub-dials in the layout, it’s a gamble. It may be a calculated risk, but there is a real chance here that the general watch buyer may look at the watch and see it as simultaneously overly busy and all too familiar – a look similar to something they can get from the kiosk in the local mall. That is particularly the case if it’s a brand the buyer not super familiar with. In my case, I’m aware of Garrick, and fortunately it looks like the finishing on the new Garrick Regulator should set it apart from the wild designs of the fashion watch crowd.
Undeniably, the main dial surface (done here in silver) of the Garrick Regulator is the star of the show. Rather than being some stamped or silk-screened pattern, what we have here is something truly old-school. The engraving here is done via the always-popular rose-engine lathe. This gets you a pattern that you just simply do not see everyday. The brand refers to this as a barleycorn pattern, but to my eye, it brings to mind the fractal-style (I’m aware this is not a fractal pattern) sort of coloring book patterns. To be clear, this is not a back-handed compliment. I like this semi-organic, repetitive look, as it works well on a watch dial. It adds dimensionality, of course, and a lot of visual interest without it being actually distracting on the watch – i.e., your eye can filter out the repetitive pattern to focus in on the time telling. Unfortunately, the brand’s somewhat low-res images probably do not present the Garrick Regulator in its best possible light, so a little imagination is required.
Now, this is a different sort of regulator watch. For watches called regulators, we’re used to a large center hand for the minutes, then a subdial for the hours. Here, we’ve got sub-dials for everything – and a cutout to see the balance wheel of the modified Unitas 6497. Now, I’d be lying if I said that I didn’t wish that the four circular openings were a more perfectly balanced in terms of the layout, but here, they’re off just enough that it appears it was done on purpose. In other words, I’m willing to accept that there were some limits to what they were able to do to the hand-wound movement to get it to fit this layout. And really, it’s the open-heart cutout that throws things off, for me. So, yeah, I’ll take that kinetic display as a tradeoff.
All of this is tucked into the 42mm, high-polish stainless steel case of the Garrick Regulator. While I get that the polishing picks up the lines laid down by the rose-engine finishing on the dial, it just seems to me that you’re looking to have a smudged up case most of the time. So, yeah, if it it were me contacting the workshop to pick one of these up (as they are done by hand over in Norfolk, England) I’d be seeing about getting something with more of a brushed finish on the case. Then again, that could just be me.
At the end of the day, if you’re handing over £6662.50 (ex VAT) for the Garrick Regulator, you’re going to have a watch that’s unlike anything else in your watch box or likely that of your friends. Sure, you might have to explain the watch sometimes, but fortunately, we tend to enjoy that, and that sublime dial surface should support your points. Learn more at garrick.co.uk