William Wood, the man who gave the company its name, was a firefighter and the grandfather of the UK-based watch company’s founder, Jonny Garrett. He won commendations for acts of heroic bravery during his quarter of a century of service, including saving five children from a house fire in 1966. He was awarded a Certificate of Merit, the first time this had been awarded in the history of Newcastle and Gateshead Fire Brigade – truly an inspirational hero to remember and aspire to emulate.
The first thing that you notice when you open the outer cardboard box is the red travel roll that the watch comes in. It will hold three watches so is extremely practical and a lovely luxury finishing touch that is a premonition of what is inside.
The 316L Stainless Steel brushed case measures 41mm wide and 16mm thick – compact lugs means that it presents smaller on the wrist for those of you who do not like ‘large’ watches. Lug to lug width is 20mm. The 120-click unidirectional bezel on this, the White Watch version of the design, is a yellow-gold colour and has a black aluminium inset with gold-coloured numbers and indices.
Back-play on the bezel is zero. There is a green Super-Luminova dot at the top of the bezel. These colours give it a bit of a luxury feel and complement the brass crown insert which is made from up-cycled brass from an original 1920s British Firefighter’s helmet. The screw-down crown offers 100m of water resistance.
The White Watch actually has a light matt grey colour for the dial. Recessed indices are filled with green Super-Luminova with yellow gold finished hands which match the bezel. The colours and design just ooze quality. The date window is in the 3 o’clock position and is white in colour to subtly show itself. Despite the light colourings, the watch is still very legible, even in low light. All around the edge of the dial are checkered markings, the exact design that is on British Fire Engines – I am a sucker for that sort of detail!
But it goes on… The 12 o’clock markings mirror the rank marking design on a Crew Manager’s uniform collar. The design of the sweeping second hand goes even further into Fire Fighting detail – it resembles the old Fire Engine Bell chime! These subtleties show the care and determination of the company to make something more than ‘a bit special’. It is protected by a double-domed sapphire crystal with anti-reflective coating.
There is a choice of movements available, to suit different tastes and wallets. Options are either a Japanese Seiko NH35 (£695) or a Swiss ETA 2824 movement (£995). Mine contained the ETA 2824 option which is visible through the rear exhibition case with a lovely engraved rotor. The self-winding 25 jewel movement will go on for up to 38 hours when taken off your wrist.
Another up-cycling part of the company is that the straps are made from original fire hoses. The khaki green is my favourite and is made from a military fire hose, and they really do complete the look and feel of the watch in a way that a leather strap would not. They are extremely comfortable to wear (particularly in the current 35C British Summer weather) with a very soft rubber backing. Scuffed white letters are on the strap, which adds authenticity and is just a really great touch to admire. As well as the khaki green I got a yellow and tri-link stainless steel bracelet. All supplied straps are fitted with quick-release spring bars which make changing the strap very simple indeed, especially if you take all of them out with you on your travels, either in the red travel roll or in your bag or in your pocket (guilty!).
Each watch is individually marked as a numbered edition of 250, which is a nice touch, making the owner feel part of a small unique group. Using sustainable materials; up-cycling the fire hoses that may have been thrown away at the end of their ten-year life, is a lovely touch that is really appreciated, particularly the use of military hoses as I am ex-RAF. Placing the logo in the crown, made from brass from an actual 1920s Firefighter’s Helmet is akin to other multi-thousand pound watches that contain items from luxury cars and aircraft. You really do have some history on your wrist when you wear this watch! All in all, it is a watch that can be seen as ‘special’. It shows respect for someone who did a job, an amazing heroic job for 25 years and that reverberates strongly with me. He was a character that just did his job, through whatever adversity each situation threw at him for each of those shifts over the decades he was waiting and ready to spring into action and risk his life each time to save others. There are so many microbrand watch companies trying to do something that does not deliver quite what is hoped for, but William Wood will impress you before you actually even have sight of your individually numbered watch. Do I sound impressed by the mindset behind the watch creation? Yes. Do I sound impressed by the watch itself? Yes, and when you buy one, you will be as well.
Buy A William Wood Valiant Watch
William Wood watches are available from their website: williamwoodwatches.com/