Struthers: The Horological Duo Making British Watchmaking Cool Again
In case you hadn’t noticed, British watchmaking is cool again. Just as Alexander McQueen ripped up the fashion rule book back in the Nineties, and J.W.Anderson continues to do so today – both showing the fashion crowd that Paris and Milan has nothing on what cool Britannia can offer – so there is a new bunch of kids on the horological block that are challenging the perception that the world of watches is entirely populated by bespectacled men hunched at a bench.
One such brand is Struthers London – the dynamic husband-and-wife duo of Craig and Rebecca Struthers, whose youthful, tattooed and Gothically styled hipster credentials speak more “pop-up Shoreditch art collective” than “antique-ey Birmingham atelier”.
They began by specialising in vintage and antique watch restoration; not surprising given that the pair met while training as watch makers at the Birmingham Institute of Art and Design. Thanks to diverse paths the two took before ending up as trained watchmakers, Craig and Rebecca graduated with skills in jewellery, silversmithing, gemmology and design, as well as with a knowledge of antiquarian horology – an academic field in which Rebecca recently earned a doctorate. (Ironically enough, her PhD is all about forgery of London-made watches in the 18th century, smuggling and the birth of mass production in the watch industry!)
The obvious place to channel all these skills is restoration. However, playing with the past wasn’t enough and, in 2013, they won a Platinum-Guild sponsored Design Innovation Award for their first watch, Stella. This exquisite pendant watch was created in platinum and inspired by the gimbles used to power ship’s chronometers. It featured a tiny, single-hand automatic movement that was encased in hand-cut rock crystal and then set into platinum bands. It was mesmeric, playful and the start of Struthers London’s eponymous watch brand.
The subsequent watches have been less ostentatious but still have that dialogue between watchmaking’s past and present. Next up was the collaboration with the iconic British car brand, Morgan Motor Company. The limited-edition timepiece was inspired by the trench-style designs that were popular in 1910, when Morgan cars first hit the roads, and featured an original recommissioned 1950s Omega movement and was mounted on a vintage-style leather cuff strap.
These recommissioned Omega movements have also found their way into Struthers’s clever Tailor-Made lines of watches. Rather than going totally bespoke – a service they also offer – customers have a choice between two base cases, for which a selection of personal choices, such as case material and level of finishing, can be made.
Finally, in 2017, Struthers London launched its first in-house movement at London’s Craft Week. Called Project 248 – because its conception and construction involved two minds, four hands and an 8mm lathe – it is a perfect example of how Struthers London’s knowledge of the past is being refracted through the sensibilities of present day watch wearers.
How cool is that?