Wait a second. Two reviews in a row on Love ‘N Watches? Yep you’re not imagining things. As our loyal listeners know, here at LNW our primary focus is on the Podcast. When we review a watch it’s always a piece that we’ve thoroughly researched ahead of time, and it’s almost always one we’d consider owning ourselves. We especially like brands who have an inspirational story behind them. A TRUE story, not fabricated marketing nonsense like we’re all exposed to so frequently on social “media” and in the micro-brand watch world these days.
This leads me to William Wood watches which was founded by Jonny Garrett and named after his grandfather William Wood, a firefighter in the UK for more than 25 years. William Wood’s first offering was the Chivalrous, a vintage-esque dress watch powered by a Rhonda quartz movement. The Chivalrous had several thoughtful details, including a case back made from the melted down remnants of a classic British brass firefighters helmet and stamped to look like a commemorative 1920s British coin honoring firefighters.
While the Chivalrous was a nice first effort, William Wood has really broken out of its shell with the new Valiant collection, a 41mm automatic stainless diver. Let’s take a closer look…
Nothing revolutionary here, just a nice 41mm stainless steel divers case. Somewhat unusual for a diver, the Valiant has an exhibition case back so water resistance is limited to 100 meters. Not to worry all you desk divers out there – that’s still plenty for a dip in your pool or doing the nightly dishes. If you don your deep sea gear for the massive depths of the Mariana Trench, well, you’ll have to choose another watch.
The characteristic helmet logo is still present, this time inset into the generously sized crown and still made from the brass of a vintage firefighters helmet. A radically double-domed sapphire crystal with anti-reflective coating and a slight blue tint protects the dial. Rounding out the case is a 120-click unidirectional bezel with aluminum insert, standard 60-minute markings, and a Super Luminova-illuminated pip at 12 o’clock.
The dial is where we start seeing several very thoughtful touches that lend to the heritage of our firefighting heroes. The 12 o’clock index is a double baton, symbolizing the rank markings found on the collar of a crew manager in the British firefighting service. The stylish chapter ring is modeled after the checkered flag pattern on British fire engines. The baton style hour and minute hands are complemented by the seconds hand with illuminated pip and counterweight designed to mimic the look of an old fire engine bell. The dial itself, which can be had in a choice of black, blue, or white is a sandwich dial. For those not familiar with the term, a sandwich dial is a dial with index markers cut directly into the dial, which is then laid over another piece that’s been coated in Super Luminova. A date window resides at 3 o’clock while the brand’s helmet logo stands proud just underneath the 12 o’clock index in either silver, yellow gold, or rose gold depending on the dial color.
Here the buyer is given a choice of either a Seiko NH35 automatic, or for those who prefer a Swiss movement, an ETA 2824. Both movements are treated to a customized rotor with the William Wood helmet logo and text. The choice of Seiko vs. ETA is very much a personal choice, and the argument as to which is better will continue to rage on the blogs and forums for years to come. Either is a solid choice. It simply comes down to whether or not you’re willing to shell out the extra cash for the Swiss engine.
This is the real showpiece of the Valiant. While the buyer can opt for the stainless bracelet if they choose, they’d be missing out on one of the coolest features of the watch. Offered in either red, yellow, or camouflage, the rubber strap is inset with an actual remnant from a used fire hose. This is such a thoughtful edition, and a great way of tying the piece into the overall firefighting theme. Believe it or not you can actually still SMELL the smoke from conflagrations that particular hose has helped extinguish, but as the hose is inset into a rubber strap there’s no need to worry about a smoky smelling wrist!
I’d recommend avoiding the bracelet. While decent, it’s clear that it wasn’t foremost in mind when designing the watch. The clasp is very thin, stamped steel and the links are held together by the outdated pin and collar system as opposed to the screw bar style links that are now commonplace on pieces costing several hundred dollars less than the Valiant. Besides, you’d be missing out on one of the coolest features of the watch.
Johnny and William Wood Watches have hit a home run with the Valiant. The design touches are thoughtful, but at the same time they don’t overwhelm the look and feel of the watch. The size is just about right for a contemporary diver, and I like that you’re given a choice between Japanese or Swiss movement. Opting for the Seiko engine should make the Valiant more accessible to those on a tighter budget, and the addition of the rubber fire hose strap is seriously cool.
The Valiant is being offered in five different colorways, with 250 pieces made in each color. Each piece is numbered on the exhibition case back. I’ll take mine in the red bezel with red strap and NH35 movement please. More at williamwoodwatches.com. $861 USD with Seiko NH35. $1,233 USD with ETA 2824.
- Material: 316L Stainless steel
- Size: 41 mm
- Thickness: 16mm
- Crystal: Sapphire with anti-reflective coating
- Case Back: Screw-back sapphire exhibition
- Water Resistance: 10 atm
- Inter-lug Width: 20 mm
- ETA 2824 or Seiko NH35 Automatic
- 28,800 vph
- Stainless steel with double folding clasp
- Strap Option: Yellow, Red, or Camo fire hose rubber