Military time

British watchmaker Pinchbeck has designed a one-off timepiece in support of HM armed forces – and it could be yours

Watches & Jewellery 10 Apr 2024

The Pinchbeck Waterloo watch

The Pinchbeck Waterloo watch

Geneva might garner the glory for precision timekeeping today, but London was once a hub of horology, too. After all, GMT – from which the rest of the world traditionally tracked the hours – has its zero hour at Greenwich. Even before the line demarcating the starting point of time was drawn, the capital was home to numerous clock and watchmakers, including company founder Christopher Pinchbeck I. ‘In the 17th and 18th centuries, London was a centre of British watchmaking… in fact, Britain was a world leader in the field in those days,’ explains the company’s current director, Paul Pinchbeck.

Pinchbeck has had strong ties with British institutions during its three centuries in the trade, including the monarchy and the armed forces. Its association with the latter is reinforced with the handmade timepieces it has donated to The Lord Mayor’s Big Curry Lunch since 2016 – a charitable initiative sponsored by the historic London livery companies, including the Worshipful Company of Leathersellers and Clockmakers, to raise capital for the Army Benevolent Fund.

The Pinchbeck Waterloo watch
The Pinchbeck Waterloo watch

For the 2024 lunch, taking place at the City’s Guildhall on 18 April, Pinchbeck has created a unique watch, with elements and component parts that salute the best of British design. Just one Waterloo watch is being made, making it truly worthy of the often-overused accolade “limited edition”. It has been hand-assembled in Pinchbeck’s Lincoln workshop, where the firm later relocated under the stewardship of descendant Harold Pinchbeck, and today remains under the direction of his grandson, Paul Pinchbeck. The operation is still a small-scale, family affair with the workshop only producing a few hundred timepieces a year, which reference its storied past without being bound by it. ‘We’ve always got this sense of English understatement and tradition guiding us, but we don’t try to make slavish copies of 18th-century watches – we put a bit of a modern twist on our designs as well,’ Pinchbeck says.

At 42mm in diameter – a crowd-pleasing size suitable for most wrists – the Waterloo is the first model in a series named after military campaigns, and has subtle design details that reference the battle royale that saw the Duke of Wellington triumph over Napoleon, including an understated Union Flag motif machined onto its brass dial. ‘The name “Waterloo” is incorporated into the Roman number three, and the date 1815 and the Waterloo lion are also printed on the dial. It’s a deliberately subtle reference,’ explains Pinchbeck. The bespoke leather strap has been fashioned by Devon-based firm Tanner Bates, while a Swiss-built self-winding movement keeps things ticking over. ‘We use as many British-made parts as possible, but chose a Swiss movement because they are a real asset,’ says Pinchbeck.

And you don’t need to be enlisted with either the armed forces or City guilds to be in with a chance of owning this unique timepiece. Anyone can purchase a ticket for the prize draw, which will take place on 14 May 2024 at the Mansion House in the City of London. Tickets cost £20, with 100 per cent of the proceeds going to supporting forces veterans and their families.  So, you’ll be looking out for our boys from the barracks – and might just wind up with a piece of horology history to add to your wrist armoury.

For more information and to purchase tickets for the Pinchbeck Waterloo watch prize draw, please visit:
and before 14 May 2024