2024 is a big year for British micro brand Duckworth Prestex because it is the 100th anniversary for the original Prestex, a watchmaker based in Preston, Lancashire, that made thousands of watches per year in its mid-century heyday before succumbing to the combined forces of the quartz crisis and deindustrialisation of the British economy.
The Prestex name was given a new lease of life in 2020 when Neil Duckworth, grandson of the watchmaker’s founder, launched Duckworth Prestex using designs inspired by the 20th century originals.
Duckworth Prestex was one of the original exhibitors at WatchPro Salon in 2021 and is returning this year to present a brand new range of Rivington GMT timepieces and to give visitors a sneak peak at some special watches being made for the Prestex centenary year.
Rivington is a picturesque and historic village nestling in the moors just north of Bolton that is not only home to Duckworth Prestex but also an extremely significant place for watchmaking as a whole because Bolton is where John Harwood, inventor of the world’s first automatic watch movement, was born at the beginning of the last century.
It also happens to be the birthplace of internationally renowned British watchmaker Roger Smith.
The Rivington GMT line maintains a design language that traces its roots back to the original Prestex pocket watches of the 1920s.
However, this is a very modern watch, with all the functionality needed for the modern day globetrotter.
It is powered by a Miyota 9075 GMT movement, a benchmark in watchmaking technology and reliability, and comes in the same eye-catching 42mm cushion-shaped case used in an earlier Duckworth Prestex Belmont dive watch line and more recent chronographs.
There are Rivington GMT models with dials in black, green, orange, and blue; all with black ceramic bezels. Eighty examples of each colour will be produced initially, making 320 pieces in total.
Pre-orders are being taken now for models on a steel bracelet priced at £895 or a choice of rubber or leather strap for £795.
Interestingly, Mr Duckworth tells WatchPro that over 90% of pre-orders for the GMTs have been from customers who already own at least one Duckworth Prestex watch; not necessarily a nascent collector community, but certainly an important cohort demonstrating loyalty and belief in the project.
“Our motto is Tradition Re-Invented, and our strategy is to over-deliver on our promises when it comes to the watches we make,” Mr Duckworth says.
Duckworth Prestex watches are sold online by the likes of Goldsmiths and Beaverbrooks, but its major route to market is online and through watch shows such as WatchPro Salon in the UK and the Windup Watch Fairs in the United States.
The USA has proved to be fertile ground for a number of British watchmakers including Christopher Ward, anOrdain, Fears and Studio Underd0g, and Duckworth Prestex is also enjoying its greatest success over The Pond. “Around three-quarters of our online orders come from the States,” Mr Duckworth reveals.
From a standing start three years’ ago, the brand has now made and sold around 2,500 watches, and expects 2023 to be its biggest year to date with around 1,000 sold.
No watch brand would be complete without a signature style (Duckworth Prestex’s cushion-shaped cases and striking dials) and bankable collections of three-handers, chronographs and GMTs.
But Mr Duckworth is making a statement about the history of Prestex in watches launching during next year’s centenary including a slim rectangular piece that takes its Art Deco design directly from a 1930s model.
The company will also launch its first circular watch in the form of a panda-dialed chronograph in cream, yellow or pink.
Official photography of the rectangular watch has not yet been shared, but WatchPro was given an exclusive first look at the centenary pieces and the 1930s watch that inspired them.
The quartz watches are likely to appeal equally to men and women with their 24mm x 40mm size, and are offered on either leather straps or a steel mesh bracelet.
The core collection watch will be made in steel, but Duckworth Prestex is also making a limited edition of 24 pieces in 18ct gold.
Steel versions will be priced at £495 while the gold limited edition is £3,750.
WatchPro Salon 2023
Duckworth Prestex is appearing at WatchPro Salon among a line up of around 40 prestigious brands and a carefully curated lounge of pre-owned businesses.
The event takes place at The Londoner Hotel on Leicester Square from November 10 to 11.
The ever-expanding exhibitor list of watch brands and prestigious certified pre-owned traders includes:
ARCANAUT | AWAKE | BALL WATCH | BIANCHET | BLOOMBAR | BROOKLANDS WATCH COMPANY | CYRUS | CZAPEK & CIE. | DUCKWORTH PRESTEX | EDWARD CHRISTOPHER | EBAY | ELLIOT BROWN | GERALD CHARLES | HERBELIN | IKEPOD | ISOTOPE | LUMINOX | MERAUD WATCHES | MOLEQUIN | ORIENT | OUT OF ORDER | PERRELET | QLOCKTWO | ROBOT WATCH | SEIKO | SHERPA | SINN | SQUALE | TEMPUS LORD | THE WATCH REGISTER | THE DEVOY GROUP | THE DIAMOND BOX | VAN BRAUGE | VICTORINOX | WATCHES OF KNIGHTSBRIDGE | WOLF | YEMA WATCHES | ZEITWINKEL | ZODIAC