Two English watchmakers make very small series of timepieces in a decidedly British style.
By Elizabeth Doerr
Grand Complication 5 by Peter Roberts
To say that Peter Roberts has been at the forefront of English watchmaking over the course of his career is to put it mildly.
Roberts, who became a fellow of the British Horological Institute in the early 1970s, has not only worked for some of the grandest names in watchmaking, but has also taught some of today’s most talented young Brits—the likes of Stephen Forsey (of Greubel Forsey) and Peter Speake-Marin, both of whom successfully run their own boutique brands in Switzerland today.
Roberts has spent the last four years as technical director for Bremont, England’s up-and-coming hometown darlings in the mid-priced luxury sports watch range. He designed a marine clock for Bremont that became the brand’s first movement fully designed and made in the UK.
Roberts was the first British watchmaker to attend the WOSTEP school of watchmaking in Neuchâtel, Switzerland. It was during this time, in the 1970s, that he began developing and making unique modifications to the Valjoux 72 chronograph movement. An instructor told him that he’d never seen a watch with more than four hands emanating from the center, which naturally propelled Roberts to prove that the theoretical could be realized. He achieved this goal in 1972.
Now, having found a cache of new old-stock Valjoux 88 calibers, Roberts launches a series of only 44 pieces. “We have been searching for these movements for years,” Roberts reveals. The five hands emanating from the center display the time, a chronograph and a second time zone/24-hour indicator. The watch also has a full calendar and moon phase visible through windows. The movement is a hand-finished, manually wound integrated chronograph with 46 hours of power reserve.
The rest of the 42mm watch was designed by Roberts and manufactured to his exacting specifications. There will be 40 pieces in stainless steel and bronze and four in 18K rose and white gold; the numbers represent each of the four decades that have passed since Roberts made his first “concentrique” watch. It can be ordered directly for about $24,100 in stainless steel and about $37,597 in rose gold.