Hose before bros: William Wood make a customised watch for the Melbourne Metropolitan Fire Brigade!Zach Blass
Last July, the Melbourne Metropolitian Fire Brigade merged with the Victorian Country Fire Authority and formed the Fire Rescue Victoria. This, however, meant the retirement of the MFB organisation name after a long history for the brigade dating back to 1891. To celebrate that illustrious history, members of the Melbourne Metropolitan Fire Brigade decided that a commemorative watch would make the perfect memento and reached out to us here at Time+Tide to help make it happen. When we were initially approached to facilitate a custom watch, it was immediately clear that William Wood watches would be the perfect fit. The brand’s heritage and legacy is rooted in honouring the brave men and women who serve as firefighters, so who better to help the MFB do just that? So it happened that in late 2020, Time+Tide organised in conjunction with William Wood, a customised watch for members of the MFB.
William Wood was the name of brand founder Jonny Garrett’s late grandfather. For more than 25 years, William Wood served in the British Fire Service, winning commendations for his acts of bravery. He was stationed at Pilgrim Street for the Newcastle & Gateshead Fire Brigade, serving on the Blue Watch. Sadly, he passed away in 2009, but his legacy lives on through Jonny and the William Wood watch manufacture. The British watch brand is known for the way in which they upcycle rescue service materials into beautiful luxury timepieces, while donating to international firefighting charities. It is these traits that cemented William Wood as the best manufacturer to help provide a special memento for the MFB. “We are always honored to aid, support, and celebrate firefighting organisations,” Jonny explains. “We were delighted to work with Time+Tide for the commemorative watch and couldn’t have been more excited to be a part of such a project.”
The William Wood Valiant Red x Melbourne Fire Brigade Watch
The watch is a special take on the William Wood Valiant Red, which we previously covered back in March. To recap, the stainless steel diver is 41mm in diameter and 16mm thick. The entirety of the case has a utility driven full satin-brush finish, which will better disguise the shock and scratches from daily wear. The timing bezel is red aluminium, with red of course one of the core colours of firefighting organisations. While a diver may seem a bit ironic when you think of fire, they really are the most robust and reliable watches found in the industry – they can take a beating both above and below the surface.
Above the William Wood name on the dial is the brand’s logo which is directly inspired by a 1920s firefighter’s helmet. At 12, the double baton index symbolises the markings a crew manager would have on their collar. Its running seconds hand, at its back end, takes a shape inspired by the bell chimes seen on old fire engine bells, while ehe outer checkered minutes track is an homage to fire engines of the past. As you can see, each detail is included to honour the work that firefighters do.
Its design cues are not the only homage to firefighting – even the materials used are direct tributes as well. The strap is made from recycled fire hose rubber, rendered red in colour to match the aesthetic of the bezel. While I can’t imagine a better strap for the watch, the fire hose strap features quick-release tabs to allow the MFB to quickly remove and swap the strap to their liking. Considering how many colour fire hose strap William Wood fabricates, the Melbourne Fire Brigade will have many options to choose from.
The crown is another piece of firefighting history. The brass inset within is taken from a 1920s British brass firefighter’s helmet – engraved with the brand’s logo as well. Running inside of the watch is the reliable and cost-effective Seiko NH35 movement. It will provide members of the former Melbourne Fire Brigade with 41 hours of power reserve and much-needed shock resistance thanks to its diashock shock system.
What makes the watch truly unique for the MFB is its engraved caseback. The emblem of the Melbourne Metropolitan Fire Brigade is raised and high-polished against a frosted steel backdrop. Between the William Wood name and 100 metre water-resistant label, the dates “1891-2020” are etched into the metal to commemorate the years members were active under the Melbourne Metropolitan Fire Brigade. It is incredibly well-executed, the bevels of each of the axes surpassing any of the finishes you would find on the movement within.
If you are part of an organisation that is interested in customising a watch get in touch – we know a few people in the industry who may be able to help!
Feel free to drop us an email at [email protected]