Marloe’s two founders, Oliver Goffe and Gordon Fraser say they ‘aren’t watch people’. Given they’ve been making watches, first just outside Henley in Oxfordshire and now in Perth, Scotland, for six years, this seems a little odd. But it actually makes a shedload of sense. There’s a directness, a clarity and a thoroughly refreshing lack of bull and bluster from Marloe in an industry that sometimes seems to thrive on the opposite.
The two founders aren’t scared of wearing their hearts on their sleeves either. There’s a definite enthusiasm for the achievements of the racing Campbell family at Marloe. They’ve already launched the Coniston range of four watches and now the Bonneville and Eyre are making their way off the blocks, all with a link to the achievements of the land and water speed record holders.
Both watches could – given the price – have easily featured a couple of undistinguished quartz movements. Instead, they use the tried and tested Miyota 8N33 handwinder. It’s a skeletonised 17 jewel movement with a 21,600 bph balance, 42 hours of power reserve and a parashock system. It’s a good-looking engine too, especially under the display caseback that has a deliberate slight magnifying effect.
Both also feature an identical 40mm diameter, 10.5mm thick, highly polished stainless steel case. The lugs are a standard 20mm. The crystal is sapphire too and the whole plot is a decent 10atm water-resistant – as seems appropriate given Sir Maclolm’s water speed records.
Where the two watches differ is in their dial treatment. They link directly to Sir Malcolm Campbell’s record attempts at the Bonneville salt flats in 1935 and his son Donald’s absolute rinsing of the world land speed record – hitting 403mph – in 1964 at Eyre. While we’re talking dials, it’s worth mentioning that both watches feature Marloe’s ‘lume moat’ – a ring of luminous compound around the central part of the dial.
The Bonneville uses a matte black dial with white numerals and minute markers. So far, so clear. What sets it apart is the chapter ring section between 5 and 7. Marloe has coloured this yellow to echo Campbell’s speedometer in his Campbell-Railton Blue Bird; the instrument had a yellow painted section to mark his record speed target. This could easily have been a bit of a distraction from clearly telling the time at a glance, but if anything, it raises a smile of acknowledgement each time you do. Just as a reminder, above the yellow section at 6 it simply says ‘301mph’ – Campbell’s record-busting speed.
The Eyre uses a similar visual technique but this time in a shimmering salt-flat white. The dial edge picks up the blue, grey, white and red from the turbine pressure gauge of the Bluebird-Proteus CN7 car that smashed the land speed record in Australia. Unlike the Bonneville, the Eyre runs the minute numbers around the outer edge of the chapter ring. This time it’s 403mph that takes pride of place.
There’s a lot to like here, whether you choose Bonneville or Eyre. And given the proper handwound movement and their level of finish, you might expect a saltier price than the £329 Marloe is charging for each of the two Campbell watches. Tempted myself…
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