Admittedly eschewing fashion for quality, Schofield Watch Company founder Giles Ellis adheres to a clear and simple motto for his brand—”Make a watch I’d like to wear.” Entering the watchmaking game is a bold move to begin with, especially at the higher end of the market. Ellis, however, has not only succeeded in making a watch he likes, but one that others do as well.
The company launched in 2011 at the Saatchi Gallery Salon QP with the Signalman. The culmination of more than 4,000 man hours of work, the piece was made in a process meticulously controlled by Ellis. His pure attention to detail ranged from the watch strap to the creation of the brand’s website. Though as much as he might obsess over paperstock or typesetting, Ellis spent most of the time ensuring that the 30-plus suppliers of parts and details were perfect for the Signalman, emphasizing impeccable workmanship on the watch’s unique profile inspired by the British lighthouses of the 18th and 19th century.
“It’s my testament to the great British engineering which gave rise to these monolithic structures,” explains Ellis. He also notes that perhaps there’s an element of the English eccentricy and individuality which sits well with him and his appoach to the brand.
A self-proclaimed “breather of design”, the designer’s career path has been heavily informed by his father’s wood craftsmanship. This influence lead Ellis to found The Fifth Fret, a company specializing in the restoration of high-end musical instruments from around the world. He has also designed parts for performance bicycles, top-end hifi equipment and bespoke furniture.
The Signalman has generated a great deal of attention, and while the waiting list continues to grow, Schofield remains fiercly independent to ensure that only the very highest standards of quality can be upheld and the existing level of precision can be secured.
Technically, the Signalman reads particularly well, especially when combined with its unusually pronounced profile. The case itself is machined to a micro-thin 0.01mm, while the lugs wrap snugly around the wrist so it always sits well on the arm. The packaging is a nod to the early Aldis lamps used by the Royal Navy. The watches boast super high-end mechanical, automatic, Swiss-made Soprod 9335/A10 movement with a daily average deviation of plus or minus 4 seconds—or 99.98% accurate if you’re a numbers person.
Yet while technically Signalman’s credentials are as solid as a rock there’s no denying that its looks and craftsmanship lever it subtly onto a wish list without having to resort to garish exotic skins, blingy faces and overtly over the top, needless functions. It’s a piece of wrist art from a small English company about as far from the average luxury timepiece companies as you’re likely to find in this day and age.
The Signalman DLC and DLC GMT PR are available online for £2,465.00 and £2,785.00