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Elliot Brown British Watches - The 5 Best Models

Posted on January 26 2021

Elliot Brown Watches

 

Elliot Brown is a young British watch brand based in Dorset, England. It is the brainchild of Ian Elliot and Alex Brown and has a simple mission - to make extraordinarily capable watches. The company has grown quickly and is now widely available, both on and offline.

Their watches have a distinctive style, with a strong emphasis on models created for the outdoors and extreme sports. This is a reflection of the founder’s tastes and their passion for coastal living.

In this post, I’d like to give you an overview of the brands short history, a little about their ethos and then present you with a list of the best five models currently available.

The History of Elliot Brown Watches


Ian Elliot is a surfer and was responsible, along with a co-founder, for creating the surfing-inspired fashion brand Animal - a brand that was stocked across the UK and had over 20 of its own stores.

When Animal introduced watches to their offerings they recruited Alex Brown, a horologist and biker, passionate about his coastal lifestyle - at one point he turned down a job with Cartier rather than moving away from the sea.

In 2013, having sold Animal, the pair combined their knowledge and passion to launch Elliot Brown. They were clear about the ethos of the brand and the customers that they were creating watches for.

The brand was to create stylish and highly durable watches for use in the British outdoors. Inspired by coastal retreats and extreme sports, the watches would be aimed at customers not defined by age or occupation, but by their active lifestyle.

This would all be tied together through a brand story based around Dorset, a county in the South-East of England known for its Jurrasic cliffs and popular beaches.

I’ll often mention the importance of a watch brands backstory and Elliot Brown is a great example. Their collections - Canford, Tyneham and Kimmeridge - are inspired by local villages and bays. Each collection references Dorset in its own way.

It’s an authentic story - their headquarters is in a working boatyard bordering Poole Harbour - but it’s not the whole story. Central to the brand is the ruggedness and durability of their timepieces - coupled with the desire to remain accessible and affordable.

In practice that has meant reasonably chunky watches - usually with the crown repositioned to 4 o’clock - and attention to the smaller details - particularly the use of tough and resilient straps.

Where are Elliot Brown Watches Made?


Elliot Brown watches are made in China, using components sourced from around the world or engineered locally.

Typically the brand’s quartz watches use Swiss movements, and their automatic models are powered by Japanese mechanical movements - either Seiko or Miyota depending on the watch.

Are Elliot Brown Watches Good Quality?


This is where it all comes together. Elliot Brown watches are marketed for use outdoors in the worst of weathers. They need to perform.

I’m happy to say that Elliot Brown watches excel at this. The quality is undeniable. Let’s take a closer look.

In the 1950s Timex used to put their watches through televised torture tests - and coined the slogan Timex – Takes a Licking and keeps on Ticking. Elliot Brown have their own version of the Timex torture tests - fun stunts that prove the durability of their watches.

These have included hitting the watches with hammers, freezing them and leaving one at the bottom of Poole Harbour for six months.

Check out this video. They mounted their watch on a yacht and let the sea do its worst during a year-long around the world trip.

 



Maybe more important than this stunt is the faith that others put in the performance of Elliot Brown watches. With this in mind, they’ve collaborated with the RNLI, Mountain Rescue England & Wales, and others.

The first watch on my list, is from the Holton Professional line, a collection that features the first British watch in a decade to be cleared by NATO for combat use. It was given its own NATO stock number, meaning that armed forces can be issued with the watch as a part of their military kit - alongside their weapons and protective gear.

Quality isn’t an issue with Elliot Brown.

The 5 Best Elliot Brown Watches


For me, the ethos of the brand is paramount.

I live in a coastal town at the opposite end of the country - we have our beaches, our surf community and a similar rugged windswept landscape.

Elliot Brown seem like a good fit.

Indeed, their watches are stocked at a local jeweller, just doors from the independent menswear store that stocks my own Northwind Watches. I like what they’ve done with the brand - taken inspiration from their community and regularly given something back through their charitable efforts.

It’s a real bonus that the watches are extremely reliable, and it seems to be too much to ask that the watches also be attractive. But they are. And here are my favourites.

 

Elliot Brown Holton Watch

 

This watch has a lot to live up to.

In the brand’s own words this is “possibly the best-looking watch we have ever put our names to”.

I have to agree. This was number one on my list before I stumbled across that quote. But let’s come back to its appearance in a minute. First, let’s deal with the specs and quality.

In the introduction, I was keen to stress the high quality of Elliot Brown watches, without getting bogged down in the details. But these details are worth noting.

This model was developed with the input of a specialist branch of the British armed forces and named after Holton Heath in Dorset - location of a wartime cordite factory. One of the variants in this line was given a NATO stock number and is issued to the British Army.

In order to achieve this, the watches have been built to an exceptionally high standard. With this model that means:

  • A Bead Blasted Stainless Steel Case
  • Crown at 4 o’clock for increased comfort and to minimise damage from knocks
  • Ultra high grip bezel with hardened insert
  • Bold Superluminova
  • Bolted down case back

Within each of these features, there are details that only reinforce the impression of quality.

The crown for example - the positioning makes it more comfortable for the wearer and helps to avoid damage. In addition, it’s also been slightly recessed. And in order to maintain water resistance, it is triple-sealed. Finally, it’s knurled to make it easy to turn when wearing gloves etc

They’re the smaller details that aren’t obvious at first glance.

Stylistically, it is an attractive watch and hits the sweet spot for a military watch marketed to a civilian audience. The aesthetic is that of a rugged everyday timepiece that uses a simple colour palette and a practical and legible dial layout.

I love it.

Elliot Brown Holton Professional 101-A11-R01

  • 43mm Diameter
  • 14mm Thick
  • Matt Bead Blasted Stainless Steel
  • Japanese Automatic movement
  • Sapphire Crystal
  • 200M Water Resistance

 



Elliot Brown Canford Watch

 

The Canford represents the core of the Elliot Brown brand. As the company states “the Canford typifies our watchmaking DNA perfectly”.

The style of the Canford range is based on the vintage Supercompressor design - an attractive double-crown look that I examined here. It’s an aesthetic that combines the functionality of a divers watch with a softened sports watch design.

The notable feature is the movement of the bezel from the outer case - turned by hand - to under the glass where it can be rotated by the second crown.

This variation of the Canford has a distinctive gun-metal finish and along with the black textured dial it makes for an eye-catching design. The two crowns and the darkened case finish are an uncommon combination.

The numerals are straightforward, bold and in a contemporary font. The hands are prominent and together they make timekeeping easy. There’s an unobtrusive date window at 4 o’clock too.

It’s a quartz-powered piece with a case size slightly above average. The bracelet is 22mm wide so it’s a fairly substantial watch.

The brand is keen to point out that their watches are pressure tested, and with the 200M water resistance I take that literally. Each piece is tested to 200M, rather than a sample that is often the case.

The Canford is a great place to start with the brand - it’s the best example of Elliot Brown’s house style.

Elliot Brown Canford 202-004-B05

  • 44mm Diameter
  • 13.5mm Thick
  • 22mm Lug Width
  • Stainless Steel
  • Swiss Quartz movement
  • Domed Hardened Mineral Crystal
  • 200M Water Resistance

 



Elliot Brown Bloxworth Watch

 

The Bloxworth is a different take on the rugged sports watch, offering more functionality and a more conventional design.

Having said that the design differs from the previous two models, it still retains the basics. The case back is bolted down, it’s well-lumed, the crown is substantial and knurled and there’s 200M of legitimate water resistance.

Whilst not colourful, it is slightly more colourful than the Canford or Holton. This is particularly evident in the choice of strap. It’s an informal, green woven webbing strap that was custom dyed and made especially for Elliot Brown on a Victorian Shuttle loom in the UK.

It’s those details that made me a fan of the brand.

Where the Canford was low-key and understated, this watch has a little flair. The white dial, with its three sub-dials, has nice symmetry and the large, lumed number spots contrast well. The bezel is gloss and the overall effect is of refinement rather than ruggedness.

The Bloxworth is another 44mm watch with a Swiss quartz movement and a mineral crystal.

Elliot Brown Bloxworth 929-007-N08

  • 44mm Diameter
  • 13mm Thick
  • 22mm Lug Width
  • Stainless Steel
  • Swiss Quartz Chronograph movement
  • Mineral Crystal
  • 200M Water Resistance

 



Elliot Brown Tyneham Watch

 

I never get bored with the backstory of watches.

The Tyneham is no exception. It’s named after a ghost village in Dorset.

By that, I mean a village that has been abandoned. Or ironically, a village where time has stood still.

During the Second World War, the village was evacuated and the villagers were prevented from returning. Access is now only available when the military ranges are open to the public. It’s another example of the brand mining their own area for the inspiration for their designs.

And a lot of thought has gone into the design of the Tyneham, a watch that represents the company’s automatic line.

It’s the smallest of the watches that I’ve highlighted so far, and at 41mm wide is nearest to my preferred size. This reduction in width meant that the designers reworked the dial, using smaller and more widely spaced numerals and a narrower chapter ring.

The crown size has also been reduced from that used on the larger Canford, and it’s been slightly recessed.

Again, it’s that little attention to detail that justifies the extra that you’ll pay for an Elliot Brown watch. The rotor, for example, is decorated and the text on the case back has been deep-acid-etched. The neat date window has been placed at 5 o’clock, making it unobtrusive and balancing the dial that also has a power reserve gauge.

There’s a number of variations of the Tyneham, but my choice would be this variant with the polished silver dial, sword hands and distressed leather strap.

Elliot Brown Tyneham 305-D03-L12

  • 41mm Diameter
  • 14mm Thick
  • 22mm Lug Width
  • Stainless Steel
  • Miyota Automatic movement
  • Sapphire Crystal
  • 300M Water Resistance

 



Elliot Brown Land Rover Watch

 

I’ve paid quite a bit of interest to collaborations recently. I looked at a selection of fun watch collaborations here, and Timex collaborations specifically here.

Elliot Brown has done a number of collaborations with third parties.

I was particularly taken with the RNLI model that they released. It was poignant that the RNLI had rescued Ian Elliot when he was in trouble windsurfing and that the brand subsequently built a watch in tribute.

The Land Rover collaboration is slightly different. It’s two British brands that pride themselves on creating the toughest tool in their class working together.

With this in mind, Elliot Brown has used the Holton Professional - the watch designed in collaboration with the British military - as the base for the Land Rover watch.

The specs are therefore the same as the Holton line. It has the Swiss quartz movement, sapphire crystal and a PVD coated case. The case back is bolted down and each watch has been individually tested for water resistance.

The style is slightly different though. The sporty hands - including the orange minute hand - and the strap are both quite informal. The orange accents add some colour - not always available on Elliot Brown watches.

Even the date window is a little quirky on this model.

I’m guessing, that like me, you’d wear this watch regardless of whether you drive a Land Rover or not.

Elliot Brown Land Rover Collaboration

  • 43mm Diameter
  • 22mm Lug Width
  • Stainless Steel
  • Swiss Quartz movement
  • Sapphire Crystal
  • 200M Water Resistance

 


Conclusion


British watch company Elliot Brown was created by two friends who had been at the centre of surfing-inspired clothing brand Animal. Having launched in 2013, the brand has gone from strength to strength on the back of a watch line focused on ruggedness and durability.

They’re not the cheapest watches, and at first glance, they could even appear to be over-priced.

I’d urge you to dig a little deeper.

Central to the company’s ethos is the maxim - extraordinarily capable watches. They go further than most comparable watch brands and those little details - not always visible - are where this brand wins.

They have a NATO issued military watch precisely because they prove that their tough-looking watches can perform in the heat of battle. Additionally, they’re aware of the brands Dorset roots and continually reference the area and lifestyle that the founders place such an importance on.

I hope that I’ve piqued your interest in the brand.

Add your own thoughts below.

 

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