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TAG Heuer - Interview with George Bamford

TAG Heuer Interview with George Bamford

The origins of the Bamford Watch Department and the new TAG Heuer Monaco Bamford.

Anyone like me who grew up in the UK since the 1950s will be familiar with the JCB, since it was the first company to produce a “backhoe loader”, the distinctive vehicle with hydraulic scoops at the front and back that can be used in a variety of construction applications. I had always known that the JCB initials stood for Joseph Cyril Bamford, the company founder, and that the private company remains in the hands of the Bamford family to this day. I have also been familiar with the Bamford Watch Department since its inception. Yet I had never seen the family connection. Luckily the light-bulb moment came in a presentation just minutes before my interview with Bamford Watch Department founder George Bamford…

How did you get into the wonderful world of watches?
My first-ever watch was a TAG Heuer Formula 1 with a luminescent dial, steel case, black bezel and black rubber strap. One year my parents gave me an old Breitling Navitimer and I decided to take it apart using a penknife and a screwdriver that was meant for spectacles. I damaged everything and the watch was sent back to Breitling for repair. Every time it came back I would take it apart again and I did this four or five times. This was before the Internet, so I learned everything myself. The TAG Heuer Monaco was the first watch I saw that I simply had to have.

Interview with George Bamford

Monaco Bamford © TAG Heuer

When and how did you get the idea for producing black watches?
Over 14 years ago, when I was looking around at watches everything was about bling. What is the opposite of that? Black. It’s a colour that always makes me feel good it’s slimming. I went to the Research Development at JCB and asked them whether there was anything that I could do to change steel and they told me that there was a treatment used on steel drills in the mining industry for lubrication. That was DLC (Diamond Like Carbon) and that is how my business started. One of the first watches I coated was a TAG Heuer Monaco.

How is your relationship with Mr Biver?
First of all, let me say that it was fantastic to be exhibiting at Baselworld on the Zenith stand. The introduction Jean-Claude gave me before the press conference was humbling and he is a tough act to follow. He convinced Julien [Editor’s note: Julien Tornare, CEO of Zenith] to move half-way around the world and he has now convinced me to change my business model. From now on we will only work in direct cooperation with watch brands.

Interview with George Bamford

George Bamford and Jean-Claude Biver wearing the Monaco Bamford © TAG Heuer

How significant is the TAG Heuer Monaco to you?
As a child it was my pin-up watch. I used to sit in my father’s arms and watch Le Mans or Formula 1. When we first started talking with TAG Heuer and I said I would like to do a version of the Monaco I thought they would say no, but they jumped at the opportunity.

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Over 150 years of watchmaking savoir-faire and technical innovation have made TAG Heuer a global reference in avant-garde sports watches. As it tracked the rise of sports demanding increasingly precise timekeeping, TAG Heuer continually developed its unique capabilities through a long-term vision of what watchmaking is today, and what it will look like tomorrow.

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