Black Badger (aka James Thompson) is well known in horology circles as an artist with more than a passing devotion to high-powered lume and hard-to-find materials. If you’re a contemporary watch designer looking to inject a little oomph into your pieces, the chances are Thompson’s on your list. Likewise, Bamford Watch Department is consistently pushing the boundaries of custom watchmaking and when the two collaborate—and in a decidedly playful manner—the results are guaranteed to turn heads.
“I went to see George Bamford and his team after having met them a few times at Geneva’s SIHH and London’s SalonQP. It was always going to be a case of ‘we need to do something together,’ but couldn’t find the right opportunity. So I went to see them a few months ago and was wearing this ring I had made called a Fordite Horizon—a titanium ring with a supernova glow and internal layer of Fordite. We were tossing ideas about and then the ring suddenly went on the table and that was it. We ran with it,” recalls Thompson.
With so much natural beauty to work with, it’s an intelligent choice on Bamford’s part to lean toward larger dials for the limited edition time piece that’s based on a TAG Heuer Carrera with a 44mm dial and “time only” three-hand configuration to keep everything clean. The Fordite dial is and should be the focus. Each of the 10 watches has a unique slice of Fordite for the dial, resulting in a unique piece of art.
Fordite itself makes for a fantastic story. It’s a blanket term for the collected build-up of over-sprayed paint from car manufacturing plants. As pieces of bodywork are being sprayed, small layers of paint build up on the jigs that hold the doors and panels in place as they move through the paint shop, process that’s remained largely the same since the ’60s.
“When you’ve painted XYZ-thousand cars, you’re looking at so much overspray that small bolts are now the size of apples,” Thompson says. “Some clever worker, probably while chipping these chunks of paint from the production line, figured out that if you handle these chunks the right way they become incredibly beautiful. Random, ever-changing patterns of color and texture… If a small spec of debris or sand gets stuck in the overspray then it creates these swirls and turns in the material.”
Thompson has worked extensively with Fordite over the years, thanks to a contact with a connection at a Ford plant, who’d amassed quantities of it. This is just the start, however, Thompson says there are definitely plans for more collaborations with Bamford Watch Department. If this first voyage of mutual discovery is anything to go by BWD Badgerworks is going to be a feast for the senses.
Images courtesy of Bamford Watch Dept and Black Badger