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Schofield Signalman DLC GMT PR
A beacon of design excellence
The Schofield Signalman DLC GMT PR is the first timepiece from Giles Ellis and, based on my discriminating touch, employing probing fingers and inquisitive examination with circumspect eyes, I was able to ascertain his timepiece has hit the mark straight off.
I must confess I do not usually have meetings at the Connaught Hotel with hairy men, but Giles Ellis is anything but usual in his appearance or demeanour. Sadly, marketing types, and I speak as an ex-marketing professional, are often seen wearing suits and talking in a corporate lexicon which can, at times, prove a little tedious.
Ellis was far from tedious or boring. His attire was casual, yet stylish, and his dialogue was rich with interesting content. He clearly has a fascination with the sea and his bearded face is reminiscent of a stereotypical mariner. It therefore came as no surprise that I have recently seen him pictured in a sowester on a promotional picture.
Giles is a product designer by trade and in a matter of a few seconds I was profoundly impressed by his attention to detail.
The Signalman is his first timepiece and, based on my discriminating touch, employing probing fingers and inquisitive examination with circumspect eyes, I was able to ascertain his timepiece has hit the mark straight off. It is a wonderfully resolved design. There are no obvious signs of compromise or “making-do”, this is a quality item.
Obsessive about details
Extended conversation revealed that Giles is obsessive about details. A supplier replicated the wrong lighthouse on the caseback. To the untrained eye, it would be barely noticeable. However, to Ellis it clearly affronted his sensibilities and was immediately rejected. He is clearly precious about his work and justly so. The result is an ensemble of components which coalesce to form a sublime timepiece.
The case has a stepped caseband, built to a high standard. Its construction would have proved challenging for the supplier but the word “concession” does not seem part of the Ellis vocabulary. The leading edge of the horns sit lower than the caseback, ensuring the strap envelopes the wrist comfortably. The sapphire glass tapers downwards, resting slightly below the bezel. All elements convene in a wonderfully resolved and harmonious union.
The movement and dial originate from Switzerland, the case is German and the final assembly takes place in England. Giles is honest about the origin of his watch and refers to it as European. However, whilst some components originate from Switzerland and Germany, Schofield clearly acknowledges his British origins with the depiction of Smeaton’s Tower on the caseback.
The next Schofield timepiece, the Blacklamp, is made in England, something Ellis is keen to point out.
The hours and minutes are conveyed with white luminous hands providing a fantastic contrast with the black dial, affording excellent legibility. A lithe silver hand is used for the central seconds display.
At 3 o’clock, a date aperture features and a subdial, showing a 24 hour GMT indication, is positioned at 6 o’clock.
Below noon, a power reserve indicator is located. The profile of the scale used is a stylised depiction of a lighthouse beam. It is both ingenious and attractive in equal measure. The mastery of Schofield’s design work is that nothing appears plagiarised nor excessively fussy. At the left-hand extreme of the scale, red denotes the mainspring is devoid of energy, necessitating winding.
The engraved lighthouse
Ordinarily, I like to see a sapphire caseback fitted to a watch, however, the engraved lighthouse on the reverse of the watch is beautiful to behold and in this instance works well, aesthetically.
The rationale for the symbolism of a lighthouse is to convey engineering integrity, “strength and longevity” and there is nothing to suggest the delivery won’t live up to the prose used in Giles Ellis’s literature.
Straps worthy of mention
The straps offered with watches seldom justify mention. However, few straps elicit comment like Giles’s fantastic and rather diverse range of leather, textile and rubber options. Indeed, those members of “The Club” have the opportunity to purchase a strap kit, offering exclusive products which enlarge the possibilities for personalising your timepiece further. I must admit I repeatedly pawed the Ventile variant which was used for RAF clothing in the 1940s.
A profound sense of quality
I have mentioned much about the design and the exterior of the watch, but the heart of the watch has not been overlooked. It contains a Soprod Alternance 10 Calibre (A10) movement with a 9335 module affixed for the power reserve and GMT complications. It is a good quality movement and would shame some calibres found on watches costing much more. Indeed, the specification includes Côtes de Genève motif on the oscillating weight, perlage on the mainplate and blued screws.
However, it is the tactility of the Signalman PR which particularly appeals to me. Everything you touch just feels first-rate. Even the crown has a unique appearance. It has a large diameter and relatively narrow depth, but form follows function with ease of adjustment conferred. Moreover, unlike some crowns which appear an afterthought or a surplus item in the parts bin of a supplier in the Jura, this crown looks like it was always meant to live on the side of the Signalman.
The pricing appears remarkably accessible considering the no-compromise creation of the timepiece and Giles openly admits it is by selling the watch online he is able to deliver the noteworthy quality at the competitive prices offered.
Ironically as I have been typing this article I have received an email from Schofield Watch Company informing me that of the 100 limited edition DLC GMT PR pieces created, only 10 remain. It would seem I am not alone in my appreciation of this fine timepiece.
The next chapter - Blacklamp
Giles Ellis has clearly a prodigious talent for design and an unwavering desire to produce quality goods worthy of bearing his name. I now look forward to seeing the next chapter in the history of this young brand, the next model, the Blacklamp, and meeting Giles again at some point in the future to survey this timepiece. However, I think a hearty meal in a fishing port would be a more appropriate locale. One thing is certain, the brilliance of his design prowess is unlikely to diminish any time soon.
A dedicated blog featuring the development of Blacklamp will allow readers to monitor the progress of this new timepiece.
- Model: Schofield Signalman DLC GMT PR
- Case: Stainless steel with DLC coating; diameter 44.00 mm; height 15.01 mm; water resistant to 50 bar (500 metres); sapphire crystal to front; solid caseback.
- Functions: Hours; minutes; central seconds; date; 24-hour indicator; power-reserve indicator.
- Movement: Soprod Alternance 10 Calibre (A10) movement with a 9335 module, self-winding movement; frequency 28,800 vph (4Hz); 31 jewels; power reserve 42 hours
- Strap: Special edition black shark skin strap with stainless steel pin buckle