Uniform Wares is a British brand that designs classic watches with understated contemporary details. The firm sources the best quartz mechanisms from Switzerland and Japan, and uses a materials palette that ranges from the industrial steel, polyurethane and PVD coatings of the 100 Series and 300 Series to the more traditional rose gold and Italian leather of the 150 Series and 200 Series.
The company was founded in 2009 by young entrepreneurs Oliver Fowles and Patrick Bek, who met while studying product design together. “The aim was to produce a range of products that were part of your everyday uniform, which is where the name Uniform Wares came from,” explains Bek.
The duo started with a wristwatch because they’d struggled to find smart, minimal watches they wanted to wear themselves. “That type of watch at that type of price point just didn’t exist and that was the type of watch that we wanted to wear.”
Fowles and Bek were blown away by the phenomenal demand for the 100 Series, leading them to refocus the brand and set out to create a range of affordable quartz watches with meticulous detailing. “We’re first and foremost interested in designing products, but also interested in menswear and accessories, so being able to mix the two has worked out quite well for us,” comments Bek.
The utilitarian look was inspired by a pared-down British factory wall clock. “It was just about function really and nothing else,” recounts Bek. “It was just a no-frills approach to keeping on time that appealed to us.”
Fowles and Bek are convinced this no-frills approach contributed to their early success: “It was the middle of the recession. People go back to basics in times of austerity and think about products that, aesthetically, have got a little bit more longevity to them and are less fashion-driven.”
Classic horological detailing can be seen throughout the collection, with the regulator ring inspired by old physicians’ pocket watches on the latest 152 Series and the blue ticker options on the new 203 Series and 302 Series, which reference the colour created when steel is heat-treated. “It was quite a traditional form of decoration back in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, when watch hands were made out of steel as opposed to aluminium,” explains Fowles.
Bek says their ambition now is to become the best quartz watch company in the world. Uniform Wares launch new collections every year and are constantly evolving the design of every model from their studio in a former ceramics workshop close to Broadway Market in Hackney, east London. “With each collection we’re getting a little bit more daring,” he adds.