I have a special place in my heart for products that exhibit a singular vision. When a product is painstakingly formed to one person’s idea of how good it could be if no one else got in the way. An individual or small team with exacting standards, heaps of confidence, and the willpower to fight for their vision, can take an ordinary object or device and make it into something that elicits an emotional response. I believe this emotional response is why watches are more than just a pre-cellphone method of displaying the time. Schofield Watches, based out of Sussex, England, is a young watch brand that exhibits a very distinct and emotional sense of style. Their old world nautical aesthetic stems from the vision of owner/creator Giles Ellis and is interpreted by the landscape and heritage of England in a very charming, passionate and singular manner.
With a love of design that he inherited from his father, Giles Ellis has a resume that includes restoring vintage musical instruments, designing components for bicycles, and even creating custom furniture. Schofield is another outlet for his personal style and they operate to offer a very cohesive, distinctive and holistic approach to the luxury watch experience. With a range of products beyond their core watches, Schofield is defined by their interesting use of high grade materials, old world charm, balanced design and a definitively English voice.
This won’t be my standard watch review format. Yes, part of the following will be a review of Schofield’s Signalman DLC GMT PR watch, but we will also be highlighting a wider selection of Schofield products. No, I don’t mean sunglasses and cologne (eye roll) but rather watch-related accessories like their Strap Kit and Watch Wallet. If you haven’t been on Schofield’s site and have not seen these products for yourself, you’re in for a treat. This tiny English brand has created a rather unique luxury environment and to be best appreciated, it should be viewed as a whole.
Let’s start with the watch.
Launched in 2011 at the Saatchi Gallery as part of Salon QP, the Signalman is available in either polished steel or DLC black. Having seen the polished steel version in the past, I was excited to get some time with the DLC version for this review. The Signalman is not really like any other watch I’ve ever reviewed. It’s certainly sporty, but with the attention and fine detailing of a dress watch. It has the water resistance of a dive watch, 500m, but no rotating bezel or real diving intentions. The Signalman design is inspired by Aldis lamps used by the Royal Navy and elements of 18th and 19th century English lighthouses, many of which still stand today in the same part of England that Schofield calls home.
The Signalman DLC GMT PR measures 44 mm across and 15 mm thick, with much of its weight positioned at the bottom of the case against your wrist. While not a small watch, the 52 mm lug to lug length was not too big for my 6.5 inch wrist and the flat case back and downward extending lugs make for a fairly ergonomic fit. The crystal is double domed sapphire with an internal anti-reflective coating. The dial consists of two layers and is constructed from brass before being painted black. The hour, power reserve, engraved GMT display and date aperture are relegated to the middle section of the dial while the long minute and seconds hands stretch past the minute scale and out to the outer edges of the upper dial plate. The design is meticulously balanced and the dial layout is nothing if not beautiful.