Sekford is the brainchild of Kuchar Swara, whose name might sound familiar to the readers of the Port Magazine which he co-founded and is the creative director of.
The inspiration for the watch originally came from the personal experience of failing to find a sophisticated watch design that doesn't come with a prize of a Patek Philippe or a Vacheron Constantin. Unhappy with what he had found, Kuchar decided to make a watch himself.
I was also looking for a great dress watch for less than £1000 at the time, but couldn’t find one. I asked some friends in Milan if they knew anyone that I could work with that knew how to use 3D software – a friend introduced me to to Cedric (a watch designer) and Pierre (an industrial designer) who are based in Clisson, France; and we went from there, he adds.
So, to get his project off the ground, he was looking for staff from Cédric Bellon, a watch designer who worked with Bell & Ross, Longines and Hermès, and product designer Pierre Foulonneau.
We wanted to make a quality product of lasting value."
And this is where Sekford gets interesting. Instead of taking the visual elements for his watch off the shelf, Kuchar turned to traditional craftsmen - British artisans. For the lettering on the clock face, he worked with Commercial Type, the award-winning London typefoundry.
To my mind, British modernism during the 19th century touched on something very special. Both Dresser and Johnston have long passed but their work is still alive today – look at Alessi and the signage for the London Underground, he says. The Johnston typeface was made from posters that Christian showed me from the early period when the London Underground started to use the Johnston font on display posters and signage. We made a light weight version so it’s in typographic balance with the Chiswick numbers, adds Swara.
For the English Gothic Revival fox motif, which is placed on the caseback of each Sekford watch and is part of the company's logo, he turned to Mark Wilkinson of Lincolnshire, the founder of Inkshed Press, who uses traditional woodcut techniques for his designs.
I found Mark after spotting some of his wood cuts on page 50, approximately, of an image search on Google for fox wood engravings,”says Swara. “One of the central themes of modernity, even before the arts and crafts, is the balance between man and machine. I wanted to symbolise that theme with something that was carved by hand, Kuchar Swara adds.
By the way, Sekforde Street in London's Clerkenwell was once a centre of the British watch industry.
Looking at the final product, you can see how obsessed Kuchar and his team were about details. The case combines hand-polished and brushed surfaces to create depth (a trick that luxurious Swiss watch houses use to show the hand of artisans - polished casings are usually worked on); the hour hand is unusually short and becomes a Sekford signature; and the minute hand on each watch is curved downward at the end to follow the shape of the box-shaped crystal. This crystal blends into the intentionally thin bezel almost seamlessly, making the dial clear and open.
The result is the piece of design Kuchar was looking for. The Type 1A, as the watch is called, has wrapped the look of a classic English pocket watch (purposely so) in a distinctive, masculine, contemporary package that feels especially more refined than its price would suggest.
We wanted to convey a message of craft and attention to detail achieved by applying the skills of many artisans from different disciplines to one product,” says Swara. “The website and all other aspects of the product try to tell this story in one way or another. I love the editorial format of story telling, so illustration will be a continual part of our narrative.