Visit the Bamford Watch Department website, and you’ll see no mention of this brand new Bamford B347 timepiece. Head to the Bamfordlondon.com website and you will. I start this review by mentioning this point because the Bamford brand, as many people know it, is (and has been) in flux. What was originally a high-end maker of bespoke customized Rolex watches is now its own brand with its own original products. Rather than bulk together the customization business with the original watch business, Mr. George Bamford has decided to split them up, probably for good reason. This isn’t the first Bamford watch with his own branding on it and that is not associated with another brand, but it is among the most impressive so far. Let’s examine the Bamford B347 timepiece and explore what these interesting chronographs are all about.
To best understand the watch, you need to understand a bit about the man. George Bamford is a passionate collector of Rolex watches and other timepieces. He is also highly artistic and has spent most of his professional life in creative fields. Just relatively recently, however, has the Bamford name been “alone” on the dials of watches, as he embarks on the interesting journey to truly create his own wristwatch brand.
In a vacuum, the various elements of the B347 watch might not make too much sense. It is a watch that has not existed before — that said, what ends is it meant to serve? What we have is a 41mm-wide retro-style sports watch in a contemporary forged carbon case with a brand-new movement designed to operate a bit like an old movement. Truly only those people involved in the same kinds of watch collecting habits as Bamford will truly understand the interest and uniqueness created by this particular assortment of parts. Plus, the Bamford B347 comes in two styles, with the pictured “Reverse Panda” black and white dial, as well a similar model known as the B347 Bamford Aqua Blue with a slightly different dial design treatment. Together, they make the first of the B347 watches, but I don’t imagine they are the last.
Then, there is the matter of price, which is actually pretty decent even though this is a luxury timepiece. While Bamford’s work is known for being bold, artistic, playful, edgy, and fresh, his watches are hardly ever accused of being a good value. That seems to be changing, as this interesting mechanical creation costs just under $3,000 USD. Again, it’s not a bargain, but I think the surprisingly accessible price will be appealing to many collectors who previously felt priced out of, say, Bamford’s customized Rolex or TAG Heuer timepieces.
The Bamford B347 watch is thematically similar to some of the modified watches Bamford has produced in the past. A common theme seems to be taking something classic, then rendering it in modern colors and/or materials. A frequent manifestation of this theme is to take a classic sports chronograph watch and then produce it with boldly wild colors and perhaps some interesting materials that never would have been available in “vintage times.” Forged carbon as the case material is a perfect example. Forged carbon starts with strands of carbon that are first compressed and then baked into a millable block. That block is then machined into the watch case. Is it better than steel?
No, forged carbon isn’t better than steel, per se, but it is a bit lighter and arguably vastly more interesting to the eye given the organic marbling and texturing of forged carbon and other modern materials like it. The B347 has an inner case and caseback that are, indeed, steel. This is where the 100 meters of water resistance come from. There is then an outer case in forged carbon that intentionally resembles some of the more popular Zenith watches from the past that Bamford is also known for admiring (he even did a few customized vintage-style new watches with Zenith).
The B347 case is 41.5mm-wide and 14.5mm-thick. It isn’t a large watch, but it does wear on the bolder side given the colors and the overall case thickness. The watch is pretty comfortable paired with the custom-design 22mm-wide rubber strap. Over the dial is a flat AR-coated sapphire crystal, and the dial itself is a love letter to vintage chronograph watches intended to time automotive or other racing events. The dial has a cleanly symmetrical two-register chronograph layout with the ability to measure up to 30 minutes. A date window is located above the 6 o’clock position on the dial. Around the periphery of the dial is an on-theme tachymeter scale, which, for most intentions, is just a design element that will help the B347 remain on-theme for what Mr. Bamford was going for.
The B347 does a lot of things that vintage chronograph watches did not do, especially when it comes to detailing. Things like applied hour makers aren’t at all new, but it is true that perhaps not enough actual vintage chronograph watches had elements like this. In essence, I see the B347 as the “vintage chronograph watch that never actually existed” but that Bamford wished had. For him, I bet that designing the B347 was more like “discovering” something versus inventing it, to begin with.
From a timepiece-enthusiast standpoint, perhaps the most interesting part of the B347 watch is the movement inside it. It has a modern automatic-winding chronograph but with a monopusher mechanism. This means that rather than a more common two-pusher layout for the chronograph, this movement has just a single pusher that cycles between starting, stopping, and resetting the stopwatch feature of the movement.
Modern monopusher chronographs are uncommon outside of niche high-end watches that celebrate traditional forms of artisanship. So, to have one as part of a 4Hz, 62-hour power reserve movement designed today is a bit exotic. That is, however, exactly what this special monopusher automatic movement from Sellita is. The Swiss company is a direct competitor to ETA but over the last few years, it has been releasing a lot of products that ETA does not have. Monopusher chronographs are technically inferior to dual pusher chronographs since the latter allows you to pause timing (which you cannot do with a monopusher). With that said, some purists (such as Mr. Bamford) love the simplicity of just one pusher on the case, and some collectors likewise enjoy that in today’s market monopusher chronographs are less common (and thus have more of a quirky personality) than the more standard dual-pusher chronographs out there.
In any event, I can’t think of other competitors in this or adjacent price ranges that offer both automatic winding plus a monopusher chronograph — all in an otherwise modern mechanical watch package. That means Bamford has put a lot of thought into being different and, at the same time, decided to work with a major Swiss Made movement company to ensure that owning a B347 is a painless experience. I mention that because I would have a lot more reservations about the reliability of a niche movement like this if it was produced by a smaller company. The SW510 is based on the SW500, which is Sellita’s emulation of the ETA Valjoux 7750.
Panda-dial watches, or in this instance “reverse panda” (given the black dial with white subdials), are nearly always attractive and fashionably versatile. The all-business sports chronograph dial mixed with the forged carbon case and nifty monopusher chronograph automatic movement gives the B347 product a very exclusive “flavor” in an otherwise really crowded market. It might not be a daily wear for some people, but it is an excellent extension of the Bamford London brand and the type of watch that I know George Bamford himself wants to wear. Price for the Bamford London B347 Automatic Monopusher Chronograph is £2,083.33. Learn more or order at the Bamford London website here.
>Model: B347 Automatic Monopusher Chronograph (B347 “Reverse Panda as reviewed)
>Size: 41.5mm-wide, 14.5mm-thick.
>When reviewer would personally wear it: Fun sporty chronograph for daily wear when it goes with your outfit, or anytime you are connecting with fellow watch-lovers.
>Friend we’d recommend it to first: Vintage-style sports watch enthusiast with a penchant for trendy colors and materials.
>Best characteristic of watch: Excellent evolution on the Bamford London brand, that very much feels like something George Bamford would want on his own wrist. Forged carbon case came out nicely, movement is unique and interesting, and packaging is impressive for the money. Good value as well.
>Worst characteristic of watch: Elements of the overall design are in some part still derivative – even though this is a “themed watch.” Reason for design or use of monopusher chronograph is not well articulated in the marketing documents or on the website – meaning that those not familiar with George’s personality and tastes might not know what to make of this interesting and niche modern timepiece.