By now, it’s pretty clear William Wood has gone all in with its firefighting-themed watches. For its latest creation, the brand pays homage to the sea with a dial inspired by the twin telegraphs of the Massey Shaw fireboat. This vessel played a part in the Dunkirk evacuation in 1940, saving 600 lives, and the later formation of the UK’s National Health Service (NHS). Not only is the watch commemorating the fireboat, but it is also due to take part in the 80th anniversary of VE Day next year. With Massey Shaw having such a storied past, William Wood bases its new Dunkirk Watch on many notable features of its design. Do all the elements come together? Let’s check it out.

First, let’s look at the history of the Dunkirk Watch’s inspiration. Constructed in 1935, Massey Shaw is a purpose-built fireboat for the London Fire Brigade. Up and down the Thames, Massey Shaw responded to incidents. However, William Wood extracts the Dunkirk name for Massey Shaw’s involvement in 1940 with the Dunkirk evacuation. The fireboat sailed from Ramsgate Harbour to gather British troops off Dunkirk Beach, France, in May/June of 1940. After exfiltrating 600 soldiers in three crossings, Massey Shaw returned to London. Specifically during The Blitz, the fireboat was incredibly active, including helping to put out St. Paul’s Cathedral, which may have been lost otherwise. After 36 years of service, Massey Shaw was decommissioned and given to the Massey Shaw Education Trust in 1982. The trust ensures the upkeep of the fireboat for history and educational purposes.

William Wood Dunkirk Watch

So, how does this lead us to the William Wood watch? Being that William Wood watches almost exclusively take inspiration from firefighting units, basing a watch on the Massey Shaw fireboat seemed natural. The most noticeable element of the Dunkirk is its unique dial design. Inspiration for it comes from the twin telegraphs found in the boat’s wheelhouse. An engine order telegraph is used on vessels to send orders to the engine room from the bridge. You may recognize this device from the 1997 movie Titanic if you’re unfamiliar with old nautical ships. The prop is on show extensively as a narrative device to convey the speed of the ship in certain scenes. Running the dial’s circumference are 11 engine orders and “London” instead of traditional markers. While it may inhibit accurate time-telling, the bespoke design emphasizes the historical application.

William Wood Dunkirk Watch Lume shot

The dial text is luminescent and printed mostly in the same beige Super-LumiNova found on the hour and minute hands. Only the “stop” and “London” are in a red lume, with the latter showcasing Massey Shaw’s and William Wood’s British roots. The applied firefighter helmet includes micro-level detailing and matches the central seconds hand. Even the skeletonized hands represent the indicator on Massey Shaw’s wheelhouse telegraph. But if the dial doesn’t catch your eye, the case certainly will. The 41mm mid-case is CuSn8 bronze with brushing all around. Flanking it are red “pipes” honoring Massey Shaw‘s pump house. These elements contribute to a 42mm diameter (excluding the crown) and a 13mm thickness. Part of me wonders what the watch would look like without these red pipes. Though striking, they’re slightly jarring with the rest of the bronze case.

Final specs and pricing

Flipping the watch over, you can observe a depiction of the Operation Dynamo mission to evacuate the troops. In the center of the scene is a genuine piece of the boat engine used in the Dunkirk evacuation. Fittingly, this bronze-toned, machine-cut part takes the shape of the Massey Shaw fireboat. While extracting a part of the engine for the watch may sound counterintuitive, the Massey Shaw Education Trust is using the proceeds to refurbish the engine. William Wood has already donated £10,000 to the trust. This work is all in preparation for the 80th-anniversary sail across the English Channel in 2025. The 600 owners of the Dunkirk Watch will be able to have their names engraved onto a plaque on the Massey Shaw fireboat during this crossing.

As with most William Wood watches, the 20mm strap has a silicone back with quick-release levers and upcycled firefighter materials stitched on the front. This bronze texture repurposes firefighting jackets and trousers worn by the UK Fire & Rescue Service in real fires. Providing the mechanical power is the Sellita SW200-1 with 38 hours of power reserve and a 28,800vph frequency. While the case may initially seem large, the 49.5mm lug-to-lug and 13mm thickness are relatively restrained. This case also offers water resistance to 5 ATM.

The William Wood Dunkirk Watch costs £3,995 and is available for pre-order now for delivery in November 2024.

What are your thoughts on this fireboat-inspired timepiece from William Wood? For more details, check it out on the brand’s website here.

Watch specifications

Dunkirk Watch
Black and bronze with beige and red Super-LumiNova markings
Case Material
CuSn8 bronze in brushed finish with red-coated pipes
Case Dimensions
42mm (diameter) × 49.5mm (lug-to-lug) × 13mm (thickness)
Sapphire with antireflective coating
Case Back
Engraving on three-tone bronze with an original piece of the Massey Shaw engine used in the Dunkirk evacuation in the form of the fireboat
Sellita SW200-1: automatic with manual winding, 28,800vph frequency, 38-hour power reserve, 26 jewels
Water Resistance
5 ATM (50m)
Rubber (20mm width) with upcycled firefighting jackets from the UK Fire & Rescue Service, quick-release spring bars, and bronze pin buckle
Time only (hours, minutes, seconds)
Three years, international