The result is the piece of considered design Kuchar had been looking for. The Type 1A, as the watch is called, has the airs of a classic English pocket watch (intentionally so), just wrapped in a distinctive, masculine, contemporary package that feels decidedly more refined than its price point would suggest.

So there you have it. Sekford. The quartz watch that made a fool out of a snob.

Robin Swithinbank
Editor

It’s odd to start a piece about a quartz watch brand by declaring how bored I am by quartz watches. If you read my Baselworld top 30 round-up earlier this week, you’ll remember every one was mechanical. I’m a snob that way.

I started writing about mechanical watches over a decade ago, and I’ve long since been persuaded of the merits of a watch that’s assembled by hand and that runs autonomously via an intricate series of wheels and pinions over one powered by a disposable battery and built in a Chinese sweatshop.

By that token, I shouldn’t give a fig about Sekford. It only makes quartz watches. Nothing to see here. Move on.

But I do. I first came across the young British company when I was writing a piece forThe Financial Times last autumn on the rise of the British quartz watch brand. These are fertile times for the quartz end of the British watch industry. The world is tuning in to see what Shore Projects, Larsson and Jennings, Olivia Burton and the rest are up to, and business is booming. In my research, I stumbled on Sekford and found another, more intriguing part of the story.

sekford-inset

Sekford is the brainchild of Kuchar Swara, whose name will mean something to readers of Port magazine, a beautiful biannual he co-founded and where he is still creative director. The inspiration for the watch came initially from a personal experience of trying to find a considered piece of watch design that didn’t come with the price tag of a Patek Philippe or a Vacheron Constantin. Unsatisfied with what he found, Kuchar decided to make a watch of his own.

To get his project off the ground he sought out a pair of collaborators in Cédric Bellon, a watch designer who has worked with Bell & Ross, Longines and Hermès, and product designer Pierre Foulonneau. “Some brands feel like they’ve been released for the sake of it, with a product that’s offered into the market at £10 or £20 less than what’s already out there,” Kuchar said. “We wanted to make a quality product with lasting value.”

And this is where – and why – Sekford gets interesting. Rather than take the visual elements for his watch ‘off the shelf’, Kuchar turned to traditional craftsmen – British craftsmen.

For the typeface on the dial, he worked with Commercial Type, the award-winning London type foundry behind Guardian Egyptian, introduced into the paper when it took the Berliner format in 2005.

sekford-inset-1

For the English Gothic Revival fox motif that sits on the case back of every Sekford watch and across the company branding, he turned to Lincolnshire-based printmaker Mark Wilkinson, founder of Inkshed Press, who used traditional wood-cutting techniques to produce his design.

And for the Bridle and Shell Cordovan straps, Kuchar looked to a tannery in Derbyshire. The name is British, too. Sekforde Street in London’s Clerkenwell was once a hub for British watchmaking.

Looking at the end product, you can see how obsessive Kuchar and his team were about detail. The case combines hand-polished and brushed surfaces to create depth (a trick luxury Swiss watch houses use to show the hand of the craftsmen – all-polished cases are usually machined); the hour hand is uncommonly short and becomes a Sekford signature; and the minute hand on each watch is curved at the end to follow the shape of the box-domed crystal. That crystal blends almost seamlessly into the purposely thin bezel, which makes the dial feel clear and open.

inset-sekford-3

The result is the piece of considered design Kuchar had been looking for. The Type 1A, as the watch is called, has the airs of a classic English pocket watch (intentionally so), just wrapped in a distinctive, masculine, contemporary package that feels decidedly more refined than its price point would suggest.

That price point is £695 for the stainless steel piece, and £795 for the gold-plated version. That’s not cheap – lord, knows you can buy a quartz watch for less. But then why would it be? Great design takes time and only the few are capable of it. Whether it’s in a house, a car, a pair of sunglasses or a watch, that’s worth paying for. Those who understand the value of Kuchar’s discerning eye will get this and invest in a watch that, to my mind, will outlast passing fashions and serve its purpose for as long as they choose to wear it.

So there you have it. Sekford. The quartz watch that made a fool out of a snob. Fingers crossed for a mechanical soon, eh?