Harking Back to Camden’s Past
Anneke Short and Jerome Robert wanted to create a watch brand that showed off the varied heritage of Camden
Article by Rupert Watkins Photography by Andy Barnham
Think of Camden today and you are likely to think of the pulsing and vibrant market area that draws tourists and students alike in their millions. What is forgotten is the area’s history as an industrial hub for both canal traffic (the dual locks by the market) and for the railways with many of the buildings originally being warehouses or locomotive sheds. As Camden dwellers and aficionados, Anneke Short and Jerome Robert wanted to bring their passion for watches to bear producing a watch that was redolent of this varied history – and so the Camden Watch Company was born.
Anneke and Jerome run a watch design studio, AMS Design Studio, that collaborates with a number of high end Swiss and English watch houses. However, they’d always wanted to have their own brand, “something that we had complete control over” as Jerome puts it. Having seen many watch brands focusing on a much higher price point, the pair saw a clear gap for a genuine and stylish watch that was attainable. With “the naturel inspiration of Camden” around them, the Camden Watch Company was born in 2014 and the shop in the market place followed a year later.
The small range of watches are stylish and exceedingly vintage inspired. There are six core models with numerous leather and NATO strap combinations. In a nice nod to the area, some of the models are named after the various historic bus routes that come through Camden. The bezels across all models are smooth and minimalist with uncluttered faces. Roman numerals are a classic and very elegant touch. Keeping with Victorian inspiration, the crowns on the 29 and 252 models are influenced by the pocket watch crowns of that era as well as harking back to Camden’s railway history. The 253 model’s face is influenced by the wheels of a steam train; the result is both very modern but also has a slight art deco feel to it.
The company’s 88 model has a more contemporary edge with bold numbers but remains rooted in Camden’s history – the face being inspired by steam train gauges. Jerome comments that their sales split is very equal between men and women with many females anyway liking a larger watch face and wearing a more masculine watch. The brand does have a model for women, the 24 – named after London’s oldest bus route that goes through Camden – it is designed to by worn with bracelets and other jewellery.
Currently all models are quartz though Jerome indicates the two of them are thinking about a mechanical model in the future. In common with many new craft brands, the watches are at the moment produced in China. “We use multiple workshops specialising in the different parts,” Jerome says, “that way we can put together a quality watch letting each workshop focus on their speciality niche.” Anneke and Jerome look to visit twice a year to chat with their various producers.
Certainly the result has been popular. When they first opened, Anneke and Jerome sold out of stock within eight months and now, selling online, have custom from the US, Japan and Europe coming to them. Gratifyingly there is much repeat custom with people returning after their first purchase to buy other models. Jerome happily informs me that the brand is taking up ever more of his and Anneke’s time, “we want to remain genuine in what we do.”
In an ever more thronged market place, Anneke and Jerome offer a rather elegant watch that doesn’t look out of place peeking out from under the cuff of a suit or a dress down coat. This writer’s favourite can actually only be obtained should the buyer venture to their Stables Market shop. The Horse Hospital Limited Edition (named after the original use of the block where the shop now is) is inspired by the trench watches issued to British officers in the First World War. Pairing elegant Roman numerals and luminous hands with a chunkier leather strap it fully shows the Camden Watch Company is offering the inquisitive a lot of watch for your buck.
Enquiries: The Camden Watch Company, 88B Stables Market, Chalk Farm Road, Camden. NW1 8AH / www.camdenwatchcompany.com/