An engineer by profession who was accredited as a watchmaker by the British Horological Institute (BHI) a decade ago, James Lamb has just launched his eponymous brand with the Origin.
Because he operates a workshop fully equipped with lathes and jigs, Mr Lamb is able to make his own cases and crowns. He even supplies the winding crown for American guillocheur J.N. Shapiro’s watches.
Naturally, Mr Lamb makes the case of the Origin, a simple, classical wristwatch that is largely artisanal, save the hand-wind Sellita movement within. The case is made from a block of silver – mostly with traditional tools – while the dial is champlevé enamel with white ceramic insert.
Quirky but restrained, the Origin is a rather interesting propositional relative to most offerings in its price range. The enamel dials are striking in colour and also appealing in style thanks to the separation of the enamelled and time-telling sections, which makes it easier to admire the enamel and read the time.
But the highlight, at least from a technical perspective, is the case, because few independent watchmakers fabricate their own cases. Made of Argentium – a tarnish-resistant silver alloy – the case is fabricated with traditional tools such as a lathe. Because it is hand made the old fashioned way, the case can be customised almost entirely, resulting in a range of case diameters from 37.75 mm to 39.5 mm, in 0.25 mm increments.
Unsurprisingly given its artisanal nature, the case is simple in form and design. That, along with the fuss-free Sellita calibre, might make it less compelling for a movement-focused collector. That said, the enamelled dial and case are unusual and appealing in terms of craft.
Priced at around US$9,500, the Origin might seem pricey for the mechanics, but it is a reasonable proposition considering the challenges of case fabrication, especially for a one-man, independent outfit.
The name of the watch is a reference to its inspiration – traditional watchmaking.
The case certainly takes that inspiration seriously. In a series of images on his website, Mr Lamb illustrates the process of case making, starting with a thin, rectangular strip of silver that is bent into a ring, forming the blank for the case middle. The ring is then soldered shut to form a closed loop.
At the same time, the lugs are profiled and soldered to the case, creating a distinct transition between the case middle and lugs.
Notably, the dial blank and movement ring are also made in house. The movement ring is unusual as it has an asymmetric cut-out to accommodate the off-centred movement.
The solid silver dial blank is milled to create two recesses, one for champlevé enamel and the other for the white ceramic insert.
While the blank is made by Mr Lamb, the enamelling is done by another English workshop. Four enamel dials are available, each in a different colour and motif inspired by the elements of ancient Greek, namely air, water, fire, and earth.
The only stock element of the Origin is the movement, albeit one that’s been finely regulated and lightly decorated. It’s a Sellita SW 210, which is based on the ETA 2801.
Key Facts and Price
James Lamb Origin
Diameter: 38.5 mm (customisable)
Height: 10 mm (excluding the crystal)
Material: Argentium silver
Water resistance: Unavailable
Functions: Hours, minutes, and seconds
Frequency: 28,800 beats per hour (4 hz)
Power reserve: 42 hours
Strap: Nubuck leather
Limited edition: 10 pieces maximum in each colour
Availability: Direct from James Lamb
For more, visit jameslambwatches.com.
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