A New Icon | The Britain

Burberry's new collection of timepieces, The Britain, is a wrist-sized testimony to the company's past and future

In October 2012, Burberry unveiled a whole new collection of high-quality watches. Christened “The Britain", the watches seemed pleasant enough in the pictures and the press kit. But we were not instantly blown out of our minds. Burberry is not the first high-end fashion house to venture into the perilous world of Swiss watchmaking. Many have tried; few have succeeded.

But when Mint Indulge spent some time with the pieces at the BaselWorld fair this year, we were thoroughly impressed. The Britain’s design is an interesting mix of vintage Burberry design and state-of-the-art watch engineering.

What most impressed us, however, was the attention to detail. At the launch last year, brand creative director Christopher Bailey said the collection had been something of a personal obsession. It shows, especially in the way it melts into the rest of Burberry’s portfolio.

The case design, unmistakably reminiscent of Gerald Genta’s work for Audemars Piguet, Vacheron Constantin and IWC in the past, is inspired by the shape of the D-rings that adorn Burberry’s trench coats. The colours, especially the rich, earthy palette used for the BBY1000 Power Reserve Automatic, is unmistakably a throwback to Burberry’s brown- and camel-coloured trenchcoats.

And yet, look at the BBY1000 side on and the profile is utterly contemporary. You find the same combination of matte and shiny facets, and layered construction that has suddenly become de rigeur in the Swiss watch business.

But over and over, we came back to that theme: attention to detail. Flip over the BBY1000, and you notice a custom-made rotor, adorned with the Burberry logo and finished with Geneva stripes. Only serious watch buyers would notice, leave alone appreciate, this little detail. Christopher Bailey is taking this very seriously indeed.

At BaselWorld this year, Burberry also launched a limited-edition chronograph version of The Britain in trench gold. Yet the BBY1000 remains our favourite from this new family. If Bailey’s idea was to create a wrist-sized testimony to Burberry’s past and future, then the BBY1000 achieves that best.

The collection is available in three cases sizes—47mm, 38mm and 34mm—and in power reserve, chronograph and automatic models. All watches are powered by movements made by ETA, Soprod and Ronda. Prices range from £1,125 to £2,775. Go to www.burberry.com for more details.