October 12, 2017
by Ariel Adams
Today, London-based Bamford Watch Department debuts their very first “official” watches produced in collaboration with TAG Heuer. This includes some pre-made designs along with a customizer program that allows people to design their own. Last month, aBlogtoWatch announced that Bamford would no longer be working with Rolex watches, to instead focus on LVMH watch brands such as Zenith, Bulgari, and TAG Heuer. Now, the first official timepieces produced by Bamford as both an authorized dealer and modifier of TAG Heuer watches are being launched – and already there is considerable variety (along with expected pricing).
Bamford’s main forte (in addition to irritating some conservative watch purists) is in taking classic designs and making them a bit more hip and trendy. Bamford also has a lot of expertise in case coatings and dial modifications, which makes the company special – along with the fact that they service many of their watches in-house. Bamford Watch Department also spends considerable time producing bespoke or customized watches for clients. This is done either in person at the BWD “The Hive” headquarters in London, or via their website.
George Bamford applied exactly what he is good at in these new Bamford TAG Heuer watches, taking the new TAG Heuer Autavia Heuer 02, Carrera Calibre 5, and Monaco Caliber 11 in a range of interesting directions. Again, Bamford will not only have specific sets of pre-made designs available, but via their online customizer (which for TAG Heuer opens up today) consumers can play with colors and designs more or less how they like. If the online customizer doesn’t give you want you need, then give George a call and visit his office.
It is interesting to contemplate how TAG Heuer might make best use out of working with Bamford. Being the subject of expensive art projects (which is more or less how I consider personalized/customized watches) is certainly a brand boosting opportunity for TAG Heuer. More importantly, Bamford’s activities serve as valuable tests on what colors, styles, and overall looks work and don’t work for the brand’s products. This value is similar to what brands like Zenith and Bulgari get out of working with Bamford.
Personally, while I am disappointed at how little I can afford from Bamford, I love the playfulness of their watches. Taking something classic, and making it more trendy and fun with colors and interesting designs is endlessly entertaining for me, and wearing Bamford watches is fun. These are among the best luxury toys out there – and it just wouldn’t work as well if the underlying product was not a timeless classic.
Take, for example, the modified TAG Heuer Autavia Heuer 02 (aBlogtoWatch review here) watches produced by Bamford. These might not do particularly well in large quantities at traditional TAG Heuer watch stores, but they are interesting, inspired, and certainly neat-looking. They are also the type of thing that today’s luxury novelty seeker might want – especially the type of person who is far more keen on products from new brands versus historic ones that are slow to change.
More so, given their accelerated pricing, the Bamford TAG Heuer watches will be at a level above most other TAG Heuer watches – especially the unmodified “stock” models that these are based on by a margin of at least a couple thousand dollars. In a sense, working with Bamford allows each of these LVMH brands such as TAG Heuer to reach new customers and demographics, while not hurting the salability of their core collection, without doing very much at all. It’s a compelling strategy to say the least, and again due to the leadership of Jean-Claude Biver.
Each of these various Bamford TAG Heuer watches doesn’t mechanically alter any of the watches, but rather focuses on case coating treatments (black color) as well dial design modifications (which in most instances are colors and other light applications). I also rather like that these are all very legible (though I’d have to see that otherwise cool-looking black and red dial Autavia in person to see how easily one can read the time).
My understanding is that for now, these Bamford TAG Heuer watches are available for purchase either directly through Bamford on their website (clearly, if you are going to customize a model there) or through various Bamford authorized dealers around the world. It isn’t yet clear if these watches are available for purchase through select TAG Heuer dealers (though if there is enough demand I am sure there will be). Bamford pricing is up there just like Bamford’s ability to call attention. Expensive yes, but don’t knock them until you try them. Prices start at £4,500 for the Bamford TAG Heuer Calibre 5, £7,000 for the Bamford TAG Heuer Autavia Caliber Heuer 02, and £7,500 for the Bamford TAG Heuer Monaco Caliber 11 watch. bamfordwatchdepartment.com