Who amongst us can say we never even contemplated being a firefighter as a kid?
I got no further than my childhood “what would you like to do when you grow up” in firefighter thoughts, though I did trade a James Bond Corgi toy for a model fire engine once….box, papers and all….a big mistake
It may have been my childhood surrounded by many of the Volvo and Dennis HGV vehicles that go on to be made into British fire engines that ended up giving me more of a fascination for engineering in the end and not firefighting. So engineering was the road I took.
But dreaming of the road less travelled is always fun.
So that was as far as it got.
For others however leaving the firefighter dreams far behind when they found their actual calling was not always the case and for one watch company in particular they have delved into their own fire fighting past and married it to their personal watch obsession to bring a range of watches, that more than stack upto the quality you would expect of a watch associated with the most rugged of emergency services.
The William Wood Watch Company founded by the firefighters grandson, Jonny Garret, traces its inspiration back to the founders grandfather a decorated firefighter in the NE of England who served as a firefighter 25 years.
Jonny created and dedicated the brand to the memory and service of his grandfather so much so that both a percentage of each sale goes to firefighting charities but also each watch upcycles in some way shape or form some piece of fire fighting heritage.
Whether it be the brass in the watch case back from a melted down original 1920 brass firefighters helmet or the upcycled fire hose used in the watch straps
There are three watch ranges available from William Wood. We got a hands on with the Valiant collection and a full range of hardware in the form of Fire Hose Straps, Natos and the excellent Deployant clasp steel bracelet.
Now lets first of all set the scene. This range of watches has an unusually large price range within the model and this is due to two different movement offers.
With The Japanese Seiko movement and single fire hose strap or bracelet this watch retails at £695 this increases to £1150 for the Sellita SW200 powered unit.
Now you will have to make up your own mind as to whether the different power source is worth the additional price.
I suspect that if you are a watch geek, who reads watch media and listens to podcasts about watches then you will lean toward the Sellita power source, and that if you are buying this as a gift looking to get someone into automatic watches then you may save yourself a few quid for your own next watch purchase and go for the Seiko unit.
Or is that just Scotsman me?
What I can say for sure is that the additional price is very much just a simple passing on of the cost that William Wood bear for the movement upgrade but also at either price point this watch, to my mind, is boxing well above its weight in value, quality and aesthetic terms.
This is a dive watch, of the daily beater variety that fits into the well trod “microbrand” category, where it is oh so difficult to get your head above the rest of the competition, especially in the over saturated dive watch category.
This Valiant does however have more than enough to distinguish it from the rest of the pack.
First of all the quality of the packaging is excellent. While there has been push back recently from the likes of Breitling, Oris and Christopher Ward, against large and expensive packaging, I do like a good presentation the watch was supplied to us in the full leather case, it really does provide the watch with the full luxury feel and the case here is useful and large enough to be used as a travel case for when you want to accompany your William Wood with something else in your collection.
A particular nice touch when unpacking the watch and trying to unstick the tape was the very useful arrows on the wrapping to help you get the watch wearable quickly.
Nothing is more frustrating in having a great new watch sitting in front, that you just want on the wrist, but that you just cant find the edge of the tape to get it unwrapped.
A simple and thoughtful touch that just shows that if the William Wood team have put this much thought into just this little detail then you are probably in safe hands for the rest of the quality of the watch
Of course the one we have been sent is the red one. I am not sure it is quite fire engine red, but it is a very pleasant tone. The tone used is in the real “goldilocks zone” not too bright and not too dark, just right for a wrist watch.
The Valiant is available in a range of colours, for those that don’t want red.
There are six colours in all, and seven if you include the more recently released bronze, which is very much worth checking out. A limited edition of 200 of which the second batch is due for release soon, with pre order available now
The Valiant has a number of Firefighter easter eggs in the design which bring some fun and “lecture watch” quality to the show.
The very angular 12 o’clock markings represent the two stripe uniform rank that a Crew Manager would have on their uniform, while the perimeter checker marks which are reminiscent of the Omega “Tin Tin” for those familiar with the design are taken from the checkered marking carried on British Fire Engines.
The second had carries a “lollipop” marker that is in fact inspired by the bell chime from an old Fire Engine bell and the firefighter inspiration continues with the watch crown containing an inset made from a 1920s brass fire fighters helmet.
As you would expect the watch comes with water resistance suitable to fire fighting at 100m and proper lume supplied via Super-luminova on both watch and bezel.
This is a super comfy watch to wear and at 41mm is certainly big enough for my normally Panerai clad wrist.
The upcycled fire hose does feel somewhat different to any other strap material I have ever tried. There is no doubt that it is comfy and tough, it feels lighter and more flexible and is a bit colder to the touch on the skin, but should provide no issues to anyone familiar with rubber straps and there is always the incredible steel deployant bracelet and great Natos to fall back on.
The bracelet and hose straps are all quick release which is handy if you want to mix and match some colours and styles
So as a package for the money in either Seiko or Sellita movement this is well worth a look.
The Valiant has been popular enough to enable William Wood to move onto their first Chronograph with the Limited Edition Triumph Collection, which looks equally well built and with further fun Fire Fighter reference, including the ultimate “do not unscrew” famed on the Bell and Ross BR03 and with a similar temptation included as is present in the Breitling Emergency, but I dont think this version is actually connected to the Fire Brigade, so remember and keep the batteries charged on your smoke alarms. This will be hitting wrists in September 2021.
So do go and check out William Wood, if you own one already we would love to hear from you or get a video of you reviewing your own piece.
But I don’t have one you say, well we can also solve this, as we are giving away this review sample. It has been unwrapped and photographed but is as good as new otherwise.
So what do you have to do to win this watch?
It is over £1000 worth of goodness so we are going to make you work for it.
Firstly check out the Unboxed Channel, which is home to all our community video reviews.
Now to get an entry all you have to do is submit a video of your own. It can be a straight forward review, or a State of The Collection or an unboxing of something you already own or have just bought.
You can choose your own style, make it funny, serious or do your review in the style of another channel, it is entirely up to you.
You can send in as many as you want. A highly skilled jury will then chose our favorites and we may even decide to put the best ones to a final vote, we will see.
We will publish all reasonable entries on the channel, (and privately share in our SW whatsapp group the ones we cant possibly share!!!) so even if you don’t win, you can get your name in lights on the channel.
You can enter from anywhere in the world, but you must cover any costs of tax or customs, if they apply, when it arrives in your country, we will however cover the postage to you. It is a significant amount of watch so well worth getting it.
Please send as high a resolution as you can in landscape format, but your average iphone should be more than enough to give it a go, but if you have a fully pro set up then you are more than welcome also.
So give it a go.
Send a link to your videos to firstname.lastname@example.org or e-mail me if you have any additional questions.
We will leave the competition running for a few weeks so keep listening to the podcast for when we close the competition.
Really looking forward to seeing what you send
- Swiss Sellita SW200 or Japanese NH35 Automatic movement
- Case diameter 41mm
- Case thickness 16mm
- Lug width 20mm
- Water Resistant 100 metres / 10 ATM
- 316L Stainless Steel case and metal band
- Double domed sapphire crystal glass with anti-reflective coating and blue tint
- Rotating bezel with Super-LumiNova 12 dot
- Super-LumiNova hands, indices and bezel 12 dot
- Domed dial with date window and sweeping second hand
- Crown inset made from original 1920’s British brass firefighters helmet
- Deployment clasp buckle on metal band engraved with William Wood logo
- Presentation box includes red travel roll which can hold up to 3 watches, instructions manual and warranty
- 3 year international warranty from the date watch received
- 30 day free returns period