November, 2012
Dover Street Market, London


When a design-leading product and an equally innovative artist join forces, the result is nothing short of impressive. Stemming from a like-mindedness consisting of style, form and craftsmanship, George Bamford of Bamford Watch Department and NYC-based artist Wes Lang have created a limited series of 5 one-off customised watches exclusively for Dover Street Market London.

The art of considered living is a finely acquired one, and being conscious to the things we involve in our daily lives is certainly a taste of good care and curation. George Bamford is in pursuit of such curated living, and it's through his vision for Bamford Watch Department that it's possible to own such luxury customisation of Rolex watch, almost an essential for every considered gentleman.

Each piece from the current collaborative collection is carefully crafted in symbolic reference to Wes and intricacies inspired by 60s Mexican bikers. We sat down with George and Wes on the fourth floor at Rose Bakery to explain the further finer details…

Firstly, how did you meet, and how did it all come together?
Wes: We met through our mutual friend Darren Romanelli, who's based in Los Angeles. Also known as Dr X. George got to see what I do, and he understood it. It grew from there, and there was nothing about this project that was tedious or hard, but more of a mutual appreciation kind of thing.

Wes, your work exudes a sense of freedom - inspired by surroundings and experiences. When the stable pieces were being designed - was there also that organic approach? Or was the idea rendered first through design in sketches?

Wes: One of the designs started out from the tee I'm wearing that I made for my friend Max Schaaf, who's based in Oakland California. He was a professional skateboarder, who started to build Choppers and the website, 4Q Conditioning about his bike builds and his life and whatever. I'm also very involved in the motorcycle world, and Max became a really good friend to me and asked me to design a tee for his blog. We only made 20 of them, and it was a real limited-type thing. And its one of my favourite images that I've ever done, now incorporated into one of the watches.

George: Each watch is a different part of Wes, and if you look at those watches it actually culminates him. It happened quite organically, we discussed his artworks and then it kind of snowballed. For example, Wes' birds are very close to his heart and have a strong meaning, so decided we've gotta create a watch around a bird. What Are They Doing In Heaven Today stems from that, and I call it the Heart Watch. It's his heart, and then you build the body from that.

Your work then exudes a certain amount of personal element.
Wes: I have a very limited amount of close friends and a lot of them don't ever live around me, but we're tight no matter what. So a lot of what I do is very personal, most of the time it reflects a relationship.

The collaboration introduces new thought into art as object, however only that 5 will ever own.

George: And this is the cross between art and the mass market, and its quite a beautiful way of doing it.

Wes: I know one of them went to a very good collector of mine who will treat it as a piece. It's exciting for me that one of my main collectors immediately realised that this was a new thing, and it was not a cheap thing to buy. It's expensive. He was the first person to see it and was immediately gravitated towards it, and so I think we're onto the right thing.

What is the production time for such a limited product?

George: Each piece took 2 months to make. It all took time, and as with any project you want it to be done tomorrow. We started this in November and it's taken us almost a year.

Wes: You're turning it into a work of art which takes time. I can sit and make a drawing which sometimes it takes me 2 hours, or months and months to finish. And so for me the patience end of getting it done, I understood. I was treating it both as a product, yet also trying to turn a product into a work of art. It takes time to figure out how to do that, and it was worth the time.

What new techniques were employed to use to execute your ideas in the design?

George: The gun engraver was only used twice previously, and it was something that we were experimenting with. And soon as we mentioned it to Wes, that was it - it was our main tool for his pieces. I kind of look back to the Bakelite, or this old wonderful pattern that only appears when you come close to it. When you look at the engraving, we were then thinking about the old Mexican bikers of the 60 and 70s that used to hand tool and engrave customise the bikes. We love that kind of inspiration back into the watch.

Portrait | Joanna Kawecki
Images | Monique Kawecki
Product Images | Dover Street Market