George Bamford is a man of many talents. He’s a fashion photographer recommended by Condé Nast who learnt his trade from David Bailey, as well as founder of bespoke watch specialists the Bamford Watch Department. Favoured by the rich and famous, Bamford Watch Department customises the world’s most luxurious time keepers, from Rolex to Patek Philippe. One client recently had her Rolex Deepsea customised to match her hot-pink Hermès Kelly bag! We caught up with George for the latest in our Q&A series to talk style, cars, Coco Chanel and, of course, London.
1. When did fashion/a sense of personal style first become important to you?
A sense of personal style became important to me from a very early age, especially individual style. It really was part of my life but I didn’t know it at the time. I just enjoyed choosing my own clothes, ranging between Guns ‘n’ Roses T-shirts or suits. I did have an obsession from an early age with darker colours like dark blues, blacks and dark greys, so I think that was my tonal palette coming through.
2. Who is your style icon (living or dead)?
Gianni Agnelli [Italian industrialist and principal shareholder in Fiat] – he really was just the coolest man, and the group that he was in was incredible. It was so glamorous and had fabulous style and it seems that the fashion world at present is constantly chasing that style.
3. How would you describe London style?
London style is an eclectic mixture of Savile Row and Soho. That style of wearing a waistcoat, blazer, jeans and some rocking boots or a suit with trainers is how I epitomize London. Style – but with a little bit of kook and craziness to it.
4. If you could live anywhere else in the world where would it be (and why)?
This is a hard question as, of course, I love London. For me, I think that I would have to live in Japan. I have some wonderful friends there and I love the culture. I also appreciate the fantastic shopping experiences, and when you shop there they treat you like a real customer unlike other places. There’s also a great car culture, which I love.
5. Limited to just a suitcase, which items from your wardrobe would you have to take with you?
Of course a James Pierce V-neck T-shirt, white or black, Seven Jeans, some Fragment-designed Nike trainers, a Charvet shirt, some Psycho Bunny socks and one of my tailored jackets. I would have to take a Bamford Watch Department Daytona and one of our Stealth Milgauss watches in one of our carbon fibre watch rolls, as well as a pair of Blind or Dita glasses and a pair of Barton Pierra sunglasses.
6. What are your most used grooming/beauty products?
I’m very simple on my beauty/grooming product regimes. I think Simple soap is always the best. When I go on my trips, I take a hairbrush, some wax and I cannot live without Versace L’Homme scent. And, going old school English, Geo F Trumpers deodorant.
7. When and where did you look your best?
Haha – that’s a hard question! I try and look my best each day and always fail, so I can’t give you a where and a when. I enjoy projecting my own individual style every day and that is enough for me.
8. Which is your favourite season of the year (and why)?
Autumn/Winter. I believe that everyone looks sexier in big beautiful coats, polo necks and jumpers, with a little bit of a fur from time to time. I just think it’s a season where everyone feels comfortable. My spring/summer is always depressing because everyone is going on a diet to get into his or her swimming trunks or bikinis, whereas in Autumn/Winter everyone simply looks and feels good.
9. Who in your own family most influenced your sense of style?
My parents were a big influence over my sense of style. My father has a traditional suit and tie for work but it’s very stylish and wonderful. My mother, from an early age, always encouraged us to express our individuality in style.
10. If life was a movie, which film would you most like to live in?
At the moment, I keep watching the trailer for The Great Gatsby film that is coming out soon, over and over again. I don’t think anyone in their right mind wouldn’t want to live then. I must also say that the new Chris Nolan Batman series is amazing and I think every man would want to be him.
11. Which grooming or fashion mistakes most irk you in others?
The thing is, I don’t find any grooming or fashion mistakes in others. We thrive in individual style. Something that may be a faux-pas for one person might be another person’s ultimate style. I don’t think you should judge a person based on where your individual style has come from. What’s in today is out tomorrow and if you follow fashion you’re just going round in circles, so I try not to judge others on their style.
12. Cat or dog?
I have two dogs and I adore them – one chocolate Labrador and one blonde Labrador. They are mother and daughter, so it was a massive surprise to me, that a chocolate mother and father would produce a blonde daughter, but that’s nature.
13. What lesson would you pass on to younger people following in your shoes?
Believe in your individuality and your taste. Your taste is precious to you, so don’t ever let anyone say any different.
14. What motivates you in your career?
We have a family motto – Jamais Content – meaning never content. For me, this is something that is my personal mantra. Having that on your back is why we are always striving to improve and develop the watch department and ensure we are able to deliver every customer’s ultimate watch. “If you can imagine it, we can create it” is another motto at the watch department, so we want to live up to our word.
15. If you could trade looks with anyone who would that person be?
If I could trade looks with anyone, I think it would be Steve McQueen. I loved how he was with cars, and he had this amazing roguish style that I completely admired.
16. What category of clothing are you most drawn to/are most likely to overspend on?
I would probably say all categories of clothing. If you want it so much that you would regret not buying it, I think you have to go for it. That said, I have walked away from a few items because of price point.
17.Which is your most treasured sense?
Sight because for me, it is something that I use every day. Obviously for walking around and things like that, but also for work, looking at our dials, as well as tweaking and creating requests with our graphics department on watches.
18. Name three elements of a perfect holiday
Great tunes, happy family and some amazing friends.
19. If you could change a single aspect of your appearance what would it be?
I would probably like to be a little bit taller, but I think you have to be happy with the hand you are dealt in life. I’m not small, but I’m not tall, just in the middle. Of course, you always want to be a little bit taller and I’d probably say the same thing if I was already taller. You always want what you haven’t got.
20. Your ideal lunch venue and guest
I think my guest would be Coco Chanel because it would be wonderful to have an insight into Coco’s life and to have met someone that started how she did, and turned her personal style into a piece of luxury. She put two fingers up to the establishment and did her own thing and everyone bought into it. Using black and white, very simple tonal colours, she just made such a huge impact on individuality.
Location would have to be something very intimate, so if I could do it, a dining table for two at the Paris Opera house. For me, it is a stunning location and I just feel it would be wonderful to have conversation flowing in such a magnificent location.
Of course, that is, unfortunately, fantasy. My down-to-earth option would be having lunch at Hertford Street with Ralph Lauren. Someone who started out with ties has made such a wonderful empire in fashion. It is amazing to think about and I would love to talk to him about the watches he created, not to mention his car collection. I believe, in the fashion world, everyone has at least one item of Ralph Lauren clothing, and I just find that amazing.
LDNfashion favourite: Rolex Explorer II x Bamford Watch Department – £10,500