The founder of Bamford Watch Department explains how he created his new accessories collection for himself and a few friends
I’ve been doing watch accessories for a while – particularly leather watch rolls to house your timepieces, and there has been massive demand for these from my customers. But some of my friends and clients started to ask me if I could do other things in leather too – for example, would I make them a wallet or a business card holder?
I’m always interested in the engineering of things, so I had this idea about business card holders. I have this issue when I’m travelling that I’m giving out my cards, but then I’m getting other people’s in return. So why not have a holder that has two compartments, one for your cards and one for the ones you receive. And then I also hate the way I can never seem to get my cards out in the first place – in every card holder or wallet I’ve had they get stuck. So I designed one with a thumb-slit in the leather so you can grasp the card from the top with your fingers and push it out with your thumb at the same time. I’ve used the same idea in my wallets too, to make accessing credit cards easier.
When it comes to wallets, you’re either someone who likes to carry a few bits of plastic and some notes, or like me, you like to have everything stacked in there in the right way. So I’ve designed two types to reflect those differences.
So now there is a small Bamford leather goods collection – as well as the business card holders and the wallets we have watch rolls, jotter-style note pads and a wash bag. With this, I realised that with flat-bottomed wash bags you have the problem that they roll over. I like a washbag that stands up wherever you put it, so I created a sturdy ridge on the bottom that ensures this happens. And I wanted it to be a proper size inside. If I’m going to travel with a washbag, I want one that can hold everything I’ll need.
From an aesthetic point of view, I suppose the limitation of the range is that everything is black. But then I like black. To make things more interesting I’ve used two types of leather – one that’s a technical leather with little dots all over it; I love the textured feel of it. Then there’s also a rougher grained leather.
I like the contrast that texture offers – the pieces are black and simple, but there is some interest in the feel of them. There is also a surprise when you open the pieces up – a pop of colour like my aqua blue or red. I like it when there is something on a piece that you know about but that is not obvious to other people. Years ago, Paul Smith did a wallet that had a 50s-style pin-up printed inside. I thought that was so cool and I had one for years – I loved the naughtiness of it. That’s what I wanted to achieve with my colour contrasts – a bit of fun, a bit of personality.
On that score, we are also personalising pieces for people with logos or initials. You can have them stamped, or we have a great artisan painter who will paint on your item for you, which is a really special touch.
Next up, I want to expand these leather goods to make ‘got-to-want-to-nick-it’ accessories. As part of the range I’ve done the first one of these, though it’s not in leather: it’s in carbon fibre. It’s a watch roll made from a cylinder of black carbon fibre. You unscrew the top and as you pull out the central part it feels like you are pulling the handle of a bicycle pump, it’s so smooth. The watches are protected inside by a neoprene lining, and there are pop-out little metal legs so you can lie it flat on a surface and it won’t roll off. This watch roll is very difficult to make, and I’m currently developing a coloured version, which is even harder to produce. But as anyone who knows me will tell you, I like a challenge.
GEORGE BAMFORD is known for the experimental Bamford Watch Department, which offers a comprehensive customisation service from “The Hive”, its townhouse headquarters in Mayfair; bamfordwatchdepartment.com