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Zenith Watches Officially Customized By Bamford Watch Department

Zenith Watches Officially Customized By Bamford Watch Department Watch Releases

Bamford Watch Department has been providing aftermarket modification services for watches from various luxury brands since around 2003, and has often created a stir in doing so. Best-known for their customized Rolex watches that have included everything from colorful coatings to cartoon characters, these were always done as unaffiliated, third-party projects. Now, Bamford announces that they are officially sanctioned to go nuts on Zenith watches and have introduced the relationship with some examples of Bamford-customized Zenith Cronometro TIPO CP 2 and Zenith Heritage Pilot Ton-Up watches. This is the first time for Bamford to be officially authorized by a Swiss watch brand and represents a big step for the British watch customizer.

Zenith Watches Officially Customized By Bamford Watch Department Watch Releases

Zenith Watches Officially Customized By Bamford Watch Department Watch Releases

Some Bamford-customized Rolex watches.

The brand’s less-than-official relationship with Rolex in particular has been the source of some controversy. Just see our article here with hands-on pictures of various customized Rolex watches by Bamford, as well as background on the company and its founder George Bamford. Rolex themselves and many others seem to think that their watches are “perfect” as they are. While we can surely agree that people can do whatever they want to an item that they purchased and own, there is a lot of potential debate on the nature of Bamford’s business that benefits from well-known luxury names – but it is also true that they offer some high-tech proprietary options and exclusivity, for which there is clearly a market and that is not available from the brand. Of course, subjective issues such as whether the customized watches are desirable improvements on the originals or if the final products are attractive to your tastes is another matter.

Zenith Watches Officially Customized By Bamford Watch Department Watch Releases

Rolex is known to be ultra-conservative in terms of designs (with notable exceptions here and there) and does not even offer its own watches with black-colored cases despite a thriving aftermarket that specializes in offering this. Colorful and “experimental” design choices are, however, not unknown to Zenith. We might have further predicted polarizing releases, bold styles, and more collaborations after the unstoppable Jean-Claude Biver took a more active role in the company himself that is part of the LVMH group where he is head of watchmaking. While Biver has named Julien Tornare Zenith’s new CEO, Tornare continues to report directly to Mr. Biver in his “renewal of Zenith” mission. Whether or not this particular relationship is a direct result of Biverian forces, it does seem to indicate movement and fresh thinking at the brand.

Zenith Watches Officially Customized By Bamford Watch Department Watch Releases

So, while not a huge leap for Zenith, the new partnership is a big deal for Bamford as it is the first time for them to be working directly with a Swiss brand in an authorized capacity – and working with Zenith can be seen to provide greater legitimacy to their customized watches from other brands too. Practically, the relationship means that Bamford will be getting watches, parts, and other supplies directly from Zenith and working closely with the manufacture. The watches will be sold through Bamford’s retail network as well as their website where one can also customize one’s own watches online.

Zenith Watches Officially Customized By Bamford Watch Department Watch Releases

Zenith Watches Officially Customized By Bamford Watch Department Watch Releases

The online customizer follows a formula and gives you the ability to instantly see how a design change will look, offering control over a range of aesthetic details that differ according to the model. One can even separately choose the color of the Zenith star above the logo. The customizing tool is mostly about different colors, but one can, for example, choose from among ten dial colors and then further match the date wheel (or not) and choose the date text color as well. Since a lot of the dial elements are printed (rather than separate applied components) it makes sense that these would be easy to change up with different colors, but Bamford does offer more options and control than a lot of similar tools out there. As an aside – and I’ve said this before – why on earth does Casio not offer something like this for G-Shocks? I mean, you can officially do it with a pair of Converse Chuck Taylors.


Zenith Watches Officially Customized By Bamford Watch Department Watch Releases

While the online tool is fun, working directly with individual clients is a big part of Bamford’s business, and for the right price, they will probably do their best to accommodate further requests or creative ideas. If you want Sponge Bob on your watch dial where his hands indicate the time à la Mickey Mouse – it doesn’t hurt to ask. That said, standard versions designed by Bamford are available as well, further functioning as examples of what is possible. So let’s take a look at the Zenith watches that Bamford has customized to illustrate their new relationship – again, they are based on the Zenith Heritage Cronometro Tipo CP-2 and the Zenith Heritage Pilot Ton-Up.

Zenith Watches Officially Customized By Bamford Watch Department Watch Releases

The Zenith Heritage Cronometro Tipo CP-2 (that we saw hands-on here) has been customized by Bamford with a black coating for the steel case and different colored highlights on elements such as the hands and markers. The sandy black or asphalt-like texture of the dials and hands looks cool in Bamford’s pictures that mostly show models with green or “aqua blue” highlights. The base Cronometro Tipo CP-2 watch is 43mm wide (water resistant to 100 meters), runs the El Primero caliber 4069 automatic chronograph movement, and has a price of $7,700. You can see more details about the watch in the above linked-to article.

Zenith Watches Officially Customized By Bamford Watch Department Watch Releases

The Zenith Heritage Pilot Ton-Up (hands-on) as shown here is given a similar treatment as the Cronometro Tipo CP-2 with the blue and green highlight colors. The original Zenith Heritage Pilot Ton-Up has a similar interesting dial texture, but I think I actually prefer Bamford’s more modern interpretation – even though I am skeptical of how colored coatings age and show wear. The Ton-Up also uses the El Primero 4069, is 45mm wide and 100m water-resistant, and has a price of $7,100 for the version not modified by Bamford.

Zenith Watches Officially Customized By Bamford Watch Department Watch Releases

Bamford launched a new site in conjunction with the announcement of their official relationship with Zenith, and you can find more customized or customizable models there including El Primero and Zenith Heritage 146 Chronomaster watches – as well as other watch brands. Naturally, prices will vary depending on different models and customization options, so most will be “on request,” but they are starting from around £8,000. |

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  • Mikita

    I totally get the idea of modding Seikos and Orients below 1k. In many cases you really get an upgraded watch. I especially like what guys from Artifice Horoworks do, as well as Yobokie, Dagaz and some others.
    But I never got these Bamford. They don’t upgrade IMO, in most cases the result looks worse than the original. Blakened Rolex, blakened AP, blakened Zenith, blackened that, blakened this.. Meh.

    • imageWIS

      Cajun Watches!

    • Birdsong

      More money than taste and that’s coming from a lawyer with pretty new money.

  • Marius

    I find the idea of watch customization to be a rather interesting topic.

    In my opinion, customizing your watch would make sense if you own an ubiquitous brand such as Rolex, Omega, Seiko, or Tag. In that case, I can understand why you would like to give your banal Rolex Submariner a more characterful & unique appearance. Nevertheless, Zenith is pretty much a low-key, understated brand. So I don’t quite see why you would want to change the look of a watch which, in my opinion, is quite rare & attractive anyway.

    Furthermore, I’m not sure if I would be comfortable with letting the Bamford brothers modify my watches. I mean, from what I have seen, Bamford “customizations” are probably the worst in the business. If you’re purchasing an €8,000 Zenith, my advice would be to think twice, and even three times before handing your watch over to these two amateurs from Jaywick near Clacton-On-Sea — unless you like your watch to have that nice barn-quality feel to it.

  • IanE

    Big step up for Bamford? Maybe. Big step down for Zenith?

  • SuperStrapper

    You can ruin a zenith with a hammer and save a lot of money. I’m notbsure whubthere are macroimages of the dials and handsets, because it makes the dodgy work look even worse.

  • Mark1884

    I would NEVER buy a Bamford tainted watch!!
    They should be charged with a crime, for what they do to a perfectly good watch. The Bamford abortions all have cheap shoddy workmanship and look like crap. Shame on you Bamford!!!
    In conclusion……. I would not buy one.

  • DanW94

    In related news, Zenith has hired Xzibit as a pitchman for this partnership. He personally comes to your door and shouts; Yo, I’m Xzibit and I’m here to “Pimp your Zenith!!”

    • Mr. Snrub

      “Yo, we herd you really into roadway surfaces. So we hooked you UP son… With an asphalt texture Chronooooo!! Now you can rock while you clock!”

    • Berndt Norten

      See the classic scene in CSI Miami with Xzibit and Caleigh Duquesne (Emily Procter)

      • DanW94

        Haven’t seen it. Let me guess, he plays a rapper….

        • Berndt Norten

          A criminal of some sort.

    • commentator bob

      Yo dawg, we heard you like depreciation. So we put shockingly low quality modifications on your Zenith so your watch can depreciate while it depreciates.

      • Berndt Norten

        I once said to a young man wearing a giant ’75’ pendant around his neck: ‘o, inflation, I guess?? (50 Cent…. get it?!). He was mystified. I explained it. He didn’t laugh. I said ‘you don’t find that funny? Not just a little bit?’ It all went right over his head.

  • Garrett Hu

    When you buy a luxury timepiece, it will last a lifetime. When you customize it to this extent then it becomes a very expensive toy but of course to each is their own.

    Now when it comes to pricing, I can probably pick up a Zenith with a good discount of around 20% off, that would make the Tipo CP2 come in around $6000 US and Bamford has theirs at $11700 US so that’s almost double and that’s way to expensive IMO.

    If you can fully mod a Seiko with PVD or Cerakote, new sapphire double domes crystal, ceramic bezel inserts and new dials for around $800 US with everything you can do to it. The coating is done in the US and not in Asia so I can’t imagine the labor being so much more in the UK.

    So this to me, is setting pricing just because they know people who buy these brands can afford it.

    Furthermore after you paid full retail and almost $3000 more for the mod, when you get tired of it, no one on the face of the planet will ever want to buy your watch plus Zenith in the US and maybe around the world has a very tough resale market so unless it’s one tenth of the original price in which case someone will pick it up for what it has become, a fashion watch.

    I have seen customized PVD Panerais on the market for more than a year and i don’t think it ever sold.

    But hey, there are a ton of people out there who are not watch geeks with a money to burn and not worry about resale.

    I guess I am simply not in a position to spend $11000 knowing when I receive it it’s worth close to nothing.

  • Berndt Norten

    It’s unfortunate that two of Great Britain’s most well known watch ‘companies’, ‘Bamford’ and ‘Bremont’, are… well… insert your preferred adjective here….

    • commentator bob

      Bamford modified Bremonts would have been the real win.

      • Berndt Norten


        • commentator bob

          The Bamford Bremont Prince Charles Edition.

          Inbred, ugly and embarrassing to England.

  • Marius

    The very first owner of a Bamford modified Zenith is thrilled and excited about the final product. Here is his live reaction:

  • Ross Diljohn

    What next? Lowriders and spinners?

  • I guess it’s good that they exist (to bring diversity to the watch world), but I can’t say that I care for their results and photos of previous watches did not show impressive workmanship.

  • Yan Fin

    There is always a moron out there willing to pay to be unique. In this case, to loose the warranty and potentially, waterproof qualities of a perfectly fine watch.

    • Raymond Wilkie

      Rather harsh,…………………….but true 🙂

      • Berndt Norten

        Ray u no its true
        Ooo oooh oo-ooo

        • Raymond Wilkie

          That was a fake group !

  • Dinkee, H. O.

    In talks to have a Bamford modified Richard Mille exclusive Hodinkee edition and a Bamford – Patek – Hodinkee. I will post on here the moment either sells out before they officially go on sale.

  • Lincolnshire Poacher

    When I win the Sisu give away, survive the zombie apocalypse, and if the posty doesn’t sue me for the hernia he got delivering it. I’ll get the celebrated artists at Bamford to give it a make over. They couldn’t make it any…err, well, never mind.

  • Mikita

    I liked the idea of uniting Bremont Holy Brothers with Bamford Watch Customs. They deserve each other.

  • Mikita
    • IG

      They are still a Seiko and an Orient, mods won’t help LOL

      • Mikita

        So what?

  • Greg Dutton

    The macro shots of the dials and handsets = truly horrendous workmanship. These look like props from a Halloween warehouse, except poorly done.

  • IG

    Bamford is the Mansory of horology – to have ABTW’s favourite watch–car connection.

  • Ulysses31

    I’m a bit torn over this collaboration. These Zenith watches, particular the pilot, are somewhat garish, almost vulgar and huge look-at-me pieces. I could imagine no one better to add to that attention-seeking factor than Bamford. The work they’ve done here looks OK considering the nature of the pieces they’ve modified. On the other hand, Bamford tends to be a bit hokey in the QC department.

  • Birdsong

    I’m surprised Mr. Biver allowed this. Zenith already struggles with a vague brand recognition — when you think of Zenith, is there an archetype that comes to mind? Not for me — and now the image will be further muddled with Bamford’s authorized gilding of Zenith’s lilies.

    Rolex, you win again …

  • Word Merchant

    I’ve just bought a 2 litre tin of Dulux ‘moss green’, another of Crown ‘purple haze’, four paint brushes and a six-pack of red stripe. I’m going to offer similar exclusive services to Rolex now – I have all the necessary kit, and the same level of skill and steady hand as Bamford’s highly prized daubers. Wish me luck, readers. This can only succeed.

  • Pete L

    A miss. Zenith are a niche brand and the products they make should be special/rare enough without this. I can see why some might want a custom Rolex (probably so they can tell everyone it is even more special – yes, those sorts of people!) as they are so staid in design. I am sure I am not alone though in thinking why not simply buy something other than a Rolex! Perhaps even a normal non-customised Zenith?

  • Mikita
  • TrevorXM

    Wow, do I ever hate bamford at this point.