Schofield Watch Company Debuts The Strange Lights Series
Nestled away in a sleepy corner of Sussex, England, Schofield Watch Company has been going about its business in a very individual fashion ever since 2011. What began as a passion project of founder Giles Ellis, has become a brand with one of the strongest and most identifiable design codes in British Watchmaking. Every product, meticulously designed and crafted, expresses the personality of the man behind its creation. Now, with his latest watch — the Schofield Strange Lights — Ellis is building on his existing design language in a way that should excite long-time and brand-new fans of Schofield…
I remember the first time I learned of Giles Ellis and his mission. It was 2012. I was, by then, a grizzled watchmaking student at the British School of Watchmaking. In our common room, coffee tables were scattered with several copies of QP magazine, which had kindly been donated to the school. I was leafing through a particular issue (Issue 52, I believe), and I came across an article about Ellis and the foundation of Schofield.
…follow that path.
The story captivated me. The design of the watch was one thing, but the character of the man (and how it was expressed through his products) was more compelling. I would be lying if I said it didn’t fuel the same fire that burned (and still burns) within me to follow that path. In the eight years that have passed since that moment, my career has taken a different direction, but one that gave me the chance to get to know the man I’d looked up to all those years ago personally.
A long road to now
The first time Giles and I exchanged words with one another directly occurred at SalonQP in London. I was a bit too shy to tell him how long I’d followed his career and company at that point, but I had a chance to rectify that at a later date. Our first meaningful interaction came when Giles ran a competition to win a Signalman DLC. The competition parameters? Wide-ranging to say the least. Entrants were asked to create something — poetry, prose, artwork — inspired by the letters “DLC”.
…something brighter and better…
My entry about Detective Lieutenant Cannon solving a murder (using the power reserve of a manual watch as an indication of the true time of death) did not win. It did, however, get pretty close. Giles contacted me to thank me for the entry and to ask if he could publish it along with five other “runners-up”. I was overjoyed with the result. I was happier still when he offered to send me an SWC button made for the company by famed English button-makers Benson & Clegg for my efforts. To this day, that pin adorns the lapel of my Harris Tweed overcoat.
And yet, I do not wear a Schofield…yet. The “yet” has always followed me around, as I agonize over which model I want the most, and when I dare pull the trigger knowing that something brighter and better is always threatening to peek around the corner.
A pattern of regret
I will say this, though: I regret not buying the Signalman when it was available; I regret even more allowing the Silvertop to slip through my fingers. In those days, while those watches were available, I did not have the money to make that kind of investment. Now that I do, that ship has sailed. I have found myself vacillating between the Daymark and the B3 for the past year or so. The decision has crept ever closer. And then the Schofield Strange Lights was released and the conversation has been brought to a swift and unexpectedly decisive conclusion. At long last, I know which model I want. Now all I have to do is pick a color…
The best Schofield yet
I loved the Daymark when it debuted. Its moody green dial, brought to life by the deep pink “top hat” lume pips was something really rather special. The integration of the “Schofield” wordmark with the minute track was inspired. The hands? I could talk for days about how good they are and how satisfying I find their design and functionality. And while I liked the crown of the Daymark very much, the release of the B3 rocked my resolve.
…perhaps the best crown in the industry…
The B3 was far simpler. It was perhaps a truer expression of the original Schofield DNA and the more natural successor to the Signalman I desperately craved. In my eyes, it was not a better watch than the Daymark but it was perhaps a better Schofield. And, given how personally important to me the brand has become, I wanted something quintessentially on-brand on my wrist.
And, quite simply, it had a better crown. Moreover, it is not just a “better” crown than the crown of the Daymark (in my opinion), it is (also in my opinion) perhaps the best crown in the industry, full stop. High praise? Undoubtedly. Well-deserved? To my eyes, that is also a definite yes.
A vision of versatility
The Schofield accessories are something else. In fact, I like them so much I think I will dedicate a separate article to them in the coming weeks (watch this space). Perhaps the best and most versatile offering beyond the brand’s watches, are its straps. The materials are top-drawer. The styling perfectly straddles traditional and contemporary. Best of all, a wide array of brightly colored linings and ceramic-coated buckles offer customers the chance to add a pop of personality to proceedings.
A new champion
The Schofield Strange Lights is, despite its bold red and green dial options, the perfect base model to buy. It could accept any strap you could imagine. The Strange Lights would look divine on tweed, vivacious on velvet, sophisticated on suede… It is a characterful chameleon perfectly positioned to react to your mood.
…a crisp and decisive visage.
Why do I feel comfortable saying that despite the fact the dials are so colorful? It is because they are so full-blooded. While neither green nor red are particularly neutral colors, the absence of secondary or tertiary colors creates a very solid foundation upon which customers can let their strap fantasies play out. By using no more than two shades of the same color on the dials, Ellis has achieved a crisp and decisive visage. The green is surely the more versatile of the two, but the red has a very strong look to it that I imagine will be met with a positive reception.
Lightweight case, heavyweight design
The case of the Strange Lights series is made from titanium. On a strap, that means these watches weigh just 85g. This is not the first time Schofield has used titanium cases. However, it is the first time they have been paired with this crown. It is also the first time the case flanks have been engraved. On this model, we see the “SWC-S1” code deeply engraved on the lower part of the case band. This follows the style of engraving seen on a couple of the accessories also available from the brand. You will find this style of decoration on both the P-2 pen and the UV-1 torch. It is a neat nod to this model being very much a part of this new era for Schofield.
Probably the area in which Schofield most brutally trounces its competition is case back design. Using the closed case back of a watch as a canvas is rarely so well exploited. Another one of my favorite brands (Laventure) has always done a great job of making the most of this space, but even Laventure comes in behind Schofield in this regard.
Aside from the boundless creativity on display here, there is also the opportunity for customization. And I’m not talking about having your name or date of birth engraved here. I’m talking about a completely custom design. Ellis will gladly entertain the wildest suggestions from existing or would-be clients. This provides a huge opportunity to create something incredibly personal. It will take time. It will cost money (more or less depending on the complexity of the design and the hours spent creating it). But the end result will certainly be special. If owning something truly unique is your goal, this is a good way to achieve it.
A tasty package
Given the green and red colorways offered, the timing of the release could barely be better. This is just about as festive a catalog refresh as you’re likely to see. If you want to make one of the new Schofield Strange Lights yours, it will set you (or your generous loved one(s)) back by £3,295 including VAT + Shipping UK/EU (or £2,746 excluding VAT + shipping US/ROW). Included in that price, is your choice of strap from the Schofield lineup, and an expertly crafted box in ash and cedar woods. There will be just 29 pieces of each model made. Will you choose port? Will you choose starboard? Whichever way you’ll go, I think you’ll be satisfied with your destination. Learn more here.