After not being able to find a stylish pocket watch to wear on his wedding day a history teacher decided to design his own.
When he was on his honeymoon in France, Stuart King stumbled across a Royal Flying Corps pocket watch at a flea market, which inspired him to create a range of pocket watches influenced by those issued to the British pilots of the First World War.
They are modelled by the Mark IV, issued in 1914, and the Mark V, issued in 1916, which were the first cockpit watches and the forerunners of all military issue pilots watches. They were created for the pilots of the Royal Flying Corps and designed to be aeronautical instruments that could be attached to the dashboard as well as timepieces.
Stuart, who is based in Guildford, Surrey, has set up Lufbery Watches and is launching the Lufbery Mark VI collection - named so to recognise the influence of the Mark IV and Mark V pocket watches had on the design.
The five watches in the collection are named after Royal Flying Corps airfields used during the First World War, and one recognises Montrose Air Station, which was Great Britain’s first operational military airfield.
The Lufbery Montrose watch, which has a matte black case and a black dial, has a special significance for Stuart as his grandmother, who was born Glasgow, spent about five years living in the Montrose area when she was a girl.
The other watches are named after Royal Flying Corps airfields Andover, Doncaster, Shoreham and Uxbridge.
Stuart is launching a Kickstarter campaign this month to raise money to put all five into production.
His ambition is to create pocket watches for “the dapper man about town”.
Stuart said: “I started Lufbery Pocket Watch after I couldn’t find a stylish pocket watch for to wear on my wedding day. The pocket watches out there were either really poor quality or were too intricate and ornate, so I decided to do something about it.
“I modelled Lufbery Pocket Watches on World War One pilot watches after finding an original Royal Flying Corps pocket watch at a flea market in France on my honeymoon. I loved the style of the watch and decided I would create a pocket watch inspired by it.
“The Mark IV and Mark V pocket watches were so highly regarded that they were the only item airmen were ordered to retrieve from a stricken aircraft.
“Each of the pocket watches are named after an airfield used by the Royal Flying Corps during World War One.
“I’ve got a special connection to Montrose as my grandmother was brought up near by and the Lufbery Montrose was the first watch that got named.”
On February 13, 1913, five aircraft of No. 2 Squadron, Royal Flying Corps, took off from Farnborough and flew north. The aircraft landed at Upper Dysart Farm on February 26, three miles south of Montrose, therefore making it the first operational military airfield to be established in Great Britain. Major Burke, commanding officer of No.2 Squadron, considered their location at Upper Dysart far from ideal and started surveying the Montrose area for somewhere more suitable.
He identified a site at Broomfield Farm situated one mile north of Montrose. He was given authority to relocate the air station to Broomfield and at the end of 1913 Army Engineers erected three hangars of Indian Army Shed design, known as the “Major Burke’s sheds”, on the site. No.2 Squadron move to their new base in the New Year of 1914.
Lufbery is named after an airborne defensive manoeuvre from the First World War known as the Lufbery Circle and its logo pays homage to the broad arrow stamped on all equipment that belonged to the British military.
Stuart added: “The watches are made in Hong Kong by one of the world’s leading watch manufacturers. They make watches for all the major brands. They are hand assembled, but not handmade. In total, 500 pocket watches will be available - 100 from each design.
“Since 2011, 34 new British watch companies have been formed. They have launched on the revolutionary Kickstarter platform which has allowed small businesses to thrive. This is the highest number of new British watch companies launched in over a century.
“British watch companies have made £2 million in sales on Kickstarter.”
Lufbery Watches is launching on February 15 on www.kickstarter.com