Business of HYPE is a weekly series brought to you by HYPEBEAST Radio and hosted by jeffstaple. It’s a show about creatives, brand-builders and entrepreneurs and the realities behind the dreams they’ve built. For episode 19, George Bamford of Bamford Watch Department – the first company to offer full personalization of the world’s most iconic watches — explains how the once “antichrist” of the watch-world inspired the industry to rethink its approach to building brand loyalty.
In the age of mass production, Bamford brought back the lost art of personalization to luxury watches. As a young adult, George found inspiration in luxury car manufacturers like Bentley and Rolls Royce, whose commitment to their customers went as far as adding shaving kits, picnic sets and many more unique items to their fine automobiles. He also looked to the famous fashion house of Louis Vuitton, who built it’s name on travel trunks that could be custom made to meet a traveler’s needs depending on the journey and destination.
While the aforementioned luxury brands proved there’s a demand for personalization, it was George’s upbringing that served as the foundation for BWD to exist. As a child, George was a tinkerer, so much so that his parents wouldn’t dare enter his room for fear of setting off a new, camouflaged booby trap. He was encouraged, rather reluctantly, to take things apart and build them back together, giving him an appreciation for design, seeing them less as another mechanism and more as fine art. Later, after earning a degree in photography at Parsons in New York, his father — a successful entrepreneur in construction — told him to find his own career path rather than grab his inherited silver spoon and enter the family business.
Nowadays, George and BWD have been fully embraced by the watch industry. Many of the horology world’s biggest and oldest brands have launched personalization programs for its loyal customers. In 2017, Bamford introduced it’s very own wristwatch, the Mayfair, becoming an official brand partner under the Zenith umbrella. As Jeff puts it, it’s the equivalent of a sneaker customizer having his/her label officially sanctioned by Nike.
Having reached a level of success one can only dream of, George concludes his conversation with Jeff discussing his future plans, or rather lack thereof. However, if anything remains a constant in his life, it’s his family mantra of “never content.”