Robb Report: BWD Partners with Zenith Watches on New Custom Watch Program

Bamford Watch Department Partners with Zenith Watches on New Custom Watch Program

Biver turns to the master of watch customization to bring personalization to Zenith’s Pilot line.

It’s official this morning: Zenith Watches has become the first Swiss watch brand to formally partner with Bamford Watch Department to offer custom versions of four of their watches. Previously building sleek customized versions of Rolex, Patek Philippe, and Audemars Piguet watches (without formal consent from the brands), this backing by Zenith and LVMH pushes Bamford’s brand further into the horological mainstream.

Starting with the Type 20 Chronograph, El Primero Original, Heritage 146 and Cronometro Tipo CP-2, an online configurator is available to modify each model. Pricing starts from $10,377—a modest premium over Zenith’s standard offering. In a brief phone interview, George Bamford—the man behind Bamford Watch Department—was quick to note that these four models were just the beginning of what’s to come.

 

The Zenith Pilot Chrono Tipo CP2 is inspired by Zenith’s military Cairelli chronograph, designed for the Italian airforce in the 1960s

However, Bamford’s creations were never endorsed by Rolex, meaning that the newly announced Zenith deal marks the first time BWD has been officially authorised by a Swiss watch brand to customise its watches. On BWD’s own website, buyers can even use a new Zenith-endorsed watch-customising tool, while the alterations will continue to be made by BWD’s specialist watchmakers and designers at the firm’s Mayfair base.

Customisation possibilities include different colours for hands, dials and markings, as well as various case finishes and strap options. Prices vary according to the base watch model and the level of work required. For example, the retro Cronometro Tipo CP2, inspired by Zenith’s emblematic military Cairelli chronograph designed for the Italian airforce in the 1960s, has been strikingly reimagined as the Zenith Pilot Chrono Tipo CP2 (£9,000) in matte black with army-green marking and hands, while another version, called the Zenith Type 20 Pilot Crono Ton Up Aqua (£8,500), again makes use of BWD’s signature black with accents in aqua blue.

The partnership was originally mooted by LVMH watch boss Jean-Claude Biver, who stepped in as interim CEO of Zenith in January after expressing concerns about the brand’s performance in recent years. Bamford says it is “one of the most significant steps” his business has taken and sees it as a validation for his customisation concept. And since Biver is looking to create “greater synergies” between Zenith and its stablemates Tag Heuer and Hublot, this could mean good news for Bamford if the initial tie-in goes well.

 

George Bamford and LVMH watch department president Jean Claude Biver first met roughly two years ago, and talks of this collaboration have been ongoing ever since. A move like this is precisely the sort of shake-up Biver has long been known for, and in the custom world, George Bamford is miles ahead of the competition. With the growing popularity of bespoke in all industries we weren’t exactly shocked to see this partnership come about. George is also a longstanding fan of both Zenith and Heuer—brands both under Biver’s guidance—making this partnership a logical fit.

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