Burberry launches The Britain

References to engineering in the new range of watches



08 October 2012

The Britain is the name of Burberry's new watch. According to chief creative office Christopher Bailey, "The Britain is the embodiment of our rich, British heritage and all our inspirations. [...] We knew that we wanted a watch based on the same design principles and craftsmanship as our iconic trench coat."

At first sight it's a little arduous locating something in common between the Burberry trench coat and the new series of Burberry watches, but there can be no doubt that visually there are references to things British, such as traditional engineering, with beautifully finished multi-faceted metal, exposed screws and chunky shapes, reminiscent of steam trains such as the 'Great Britain', ships, and, with its unusual shape halfway between circular and square, more obscure British images such as the steering wheel of the Austin Allegro.

Actually, what Christopher Bailey means is that some details from the trench coats, such as D-rings, stitching and trench-colours, have been featured in the watch and the straps. The multi-faceted case construction, designed by Christopher Bailey, has a military flavour; trench-coloured SuperLuminova is used on the hands.

There are perhaps traces of Gerald Genta as well. It's impossible not to think of the Royal Oak (below, centre), with its flat, satin-finish bezel with very visible screws, and in fact the Britain (below left, The Britain Automatic), like the Royal Oak, has an octagonal case, albeit with a unique geometry. Both have an octagonal crown. It is even closer to the Patek Philippe Nautilus (below right), another Genta creation.

But the Britain's case, a distinctive feature, is very complex, in 32 parts, with a wide, flat bezel and bolts that are tightened into the curved back. The case construction offers good protection from the weather (water resistant up to 50 or 100 metres according to the model), and it includes (in some versions) a magnifying caseback that enhances the movement. The movements are decorated with Geneva Stripes engraving, with the Burberry logo on the rotor. (Below, the Britain Automatic).

The watches are powered by Swiss-made mechanical movements, There are five models, each of which is available a range of versions and colours. The Power Reserve Automatic is powered by the Soprod 9040 self-winding movement, with the power reserve meter just above 6 o'clock. The Automatic is more minimalistic and slightly smaller – 43 millimetres – with just 12 and 6 hour markers in numerals, and a date window at 3 o'clock. This is powered by the ETA 2824 movement. The chronograph, with Ronda 5040.D movement, has a distinctly pilot's watch look, with black ionized-plated steel bezel, matt black dial, and black rubberized alligator strap. The subdials for the small seconds and chronograph are sufficiently legible and well balanced. This model is water resistant to 100 metres.

The Quartz model is for women, 38 millimetres in diameter, with 124 diamonds (0.68 carats) set into the bezel. The dial, in trench colour with sunray finish, is a nice match with the alligator strap in the same beige colour.

The watches will be available in Burberry boutiques from November, at prices starting from about €1,380.

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