Uniform Wares watch brand pops up during London Design Festival

Large watch face held in a clamp
Uniform Wares' watch straps are naturally tanned using the tannins extracted from the leaves, roots, wood or bark of trees or plants such as oak, chestnut, spruce and eucalyptus
(Image credit: TBC)

Anyone looking for a well-designed mechanical watch with an equally nice price-tag should head down to Uniform Wares' temporary shop in London's Shoreditch next week.

The watch brand, part of an intriguing new wave of British watchmakers, has created an exhibition there to run during London Design Festival. The show, called 12:24, will include commissioned works by Anthony Burrill, Ed Ward and Erica Dorn.

'We wanted a way to showcase our passion for contemporary art and design but in a way that was relevant to our watch brand,' says brand co-founder Patrick Bek. And so they enlisted a group of their favourite graphic artists and illustrators and asked them to create a print inspired by a 'pivotal moment' in time.

It's only three years since London-based product designers Oliver Fowles and Patrick Bek set up Uniform Wares, which is now creating mechanical and quartz-driven watch designs. The pair first discovered a mutual passion for watches and clocks while studying furniture design at Bucks New University.

Of particular influence were the British brands Smiths Sectric and Gents of Leicester, famed for their electric wall- and desk-clock designs, hugely popular in schools, offices and other municipal environments in Britain during the 1950s. The simple, graphic design of Uniform Wares' timepieces is, in part, a fond homage.   

'Coming from a product design background, we have always wanted to show during the London Design Festival but felt that just creating a temporary shop displaying watches wasn't enough,' says Bek. 'Commissioning these 12 artists to create work inspired by time has resulted in a thought-provoking and beautiful series of work. We couldn't be happier with what they've done.'  

The resulting prints will be exhibited next to a Uniform Wares watch from the current collection, the hands of which will be set to reflect the hour the artist has illustrated. A limited-edition run of 24 of each print will be available for purchase alongside the watches during the exhibition and online at the Uniform Wares website,

Black watch face with brown leather strap

Uniform Wares 200 Series model with ETA movement, grey dial and tan strap

(Image credit: TBC)

Yellow poster with red font reading 'WAKE UP NOW!'

For its pop-up shop in Shoreditch, Uniform Wares has enlisted a group of its favourite graphic artists and illustrators to create a print inspired by a 'pivotal moment' in time. Anthony Burrill picked 06:30 as his inspiration. 'I like to get up early and work for a couple of hours before everybody else is awake,' he says. 'It's easy in the summer when the sun is up and the birds are singing, but Winter is much harder. My print is bright and positive. During the winter it will be a reminder of the Summer mornings. The words act as a rousing call to action; get up, get busy and make things happen!

(Image credit: TBC)

Yellow poster with writing resembling a sun rise

Designer and developer Ed Ward's print for Uniform Wares suggests a bright and sunny morning. He opted for 14:15, saying: 'I'd only ever worried about the time when I was late. Then my son arrived ten weeks early - what a surprise'

(Image credit: TBC)

Poster clipart of man with his feet in red water

Erica Dorn's print is inspired by 14:29. Says the illustrator: 'The autumnal equinox in 2012 falls on September 22 at 14:49. At this precise time, Night will finally find itself equal to Day and summer, as it is defined in the astronomical calendar, will end – if, some would be compelled to interject, it ever arrived at all. As the bitter edge of the dark season approaches, we brace ourselves for walking in heavy boots, our faces angled to the sun like little sunflowers, waiting for a break in the clouds to grace us.'

(Image credit: TBC)

Watch with gold frame, white face and black strap

Uniform Wares 250 series dress-watch in satin gold finish, with ETA movement

(Image credit: TBC)

Watch face with three inner dials

Uniform Wares 300 Series mechanical chronograph

(Image credit: TBC)

Two men wearing jackets looking at their wrist watch

Uniform Wares founders Oliver Fowles and Patrick Bek

(Image credit: TBC)

Swiss Precision pocket times and box

Mid-century timers and their packaging provide graphic inspiration to the designers

(Image credit: TBC)

Multiple watch faces with measuring tool

Prototypes and sketches. Testing is imperative when creating quality timepieces

(Image credit: TBC)

Watch catalogues next to each other

The founders' product design background is evident in their keen eye for nicely produced model catalogues

(Image credit: TBC)

Inside of fold out black and white catalogue

Fold-out catalogue for Uniform Wares 100 Series range

(Image credit: TBC)

Caragh McKay is a contributing editor at Wallpaper* and was watches & jewellery director at the magazine between 2011 and 2019. Caragh’s current remit is cross-cultural and her recent stories include the curious tale of how Muhammad Ali met his poetic match in Robert Burns and how a Martin Scorsese Martin film revived a forgotten Osage art.