Bamford Watch Department began, as founder George Bamford tells it, following a party in London around 2003. Bamford showed up wearing his new Rolex, only to find every other man in the room seemingly sporting the same watch. He was crestfallen, to say the least. Perhaps Bamford, the son of billionaire machinery tycoon Lord Anthony Bamford, moves in loftier social circles than most, but he sensed he wasn’t the only guy in search of a standout timepiece. “It dawned on me that luxury is no longer personal,” he recalls. “It made me wonder what I could do.”
Bamford Watch Department began as an aftermarket specialist in high-end Swiss watches treated with diamond-like carbon (DLC) — a tough, matte black coating used on industrial drills. Now, thanks to an exclusive deal with luxury conglomerate LVMH, owners of TAG Heuer, Zenith and BVLGARI, Bamford Watch Department has become these brands’ official customizer of record.
In addition to the all-black-everything look, customers can also choose from iconic pieces like the TAG Heuer Monaco, Zenith El Primero, and BVLGARI Octo in a rainbow of custom colours. Everything from the hue of the case to the colour of the date numerals can be customized on Bamford’s website in 12-plus hues, making for billions of possibilities. “Our motto has always been, ‘If you can imagine it, we can create it,’” Bamford says. “We are very lucky to have clients who ask to push the boundaries and put our motto to the test.”
Unsatisfied with merely creating one-of-a-kind timepieces for his discerning customers, Bamford has also recently branched out into a wide range of accessories, decor pieces, and tools. His collection includes machined aluminum watch rolls and a wide variety of woven NATO straps, but extends as far as leather cardholders, jetblack domino sets and a very handsome set of allen keys in a CNC-machined acrylic presentation case. There’s also Bamford Grooming Department, a new line of bath products and cologne in Bamford’s signature vetiver, bergamot, and woodsmoke scent. Needless to say, George Bamford doesn’t worry about having the same watch as anyone else at the party anymore.
If living the good life in Malibu were a watch, this is what it would look like. Inspired by the soft hues of the West Coast sunset, La Californienne’s vintage Rolex Datejusts and Cartier Tanks are serviced and restored to full working order before being hand-painted in a range of colourful tones. Add a deep tan, a few undone shirt buttons and a vintage convertible and you’ll be ready for sundowners at the pier. There’s a reason they call it the “best” coast.