George Bamford says his family motto is “ jamais content ” (never content). “That is about striving forward and we as a family are all like that,” says the entrepreneur, who founded Bamford Watch Company 19 years ago, and is renowned for customising watches from brands such as Zenith, TAG Heuer and Girard-Perregaux. New luxury pieces by Cartier and VCA, just in time for the holidays Entrepreneurial spirit runs in the family: his father is chairman of JCB, his mother is the founder of Daylesford Organics and his sister is a bio-organic farmer in California. “After I left university, my father said, ‘You’re on your own’. You never [follow] in footsteps; you’ve got to find your own feet as there is no silver spoon,” says Bamford. Bamford’s journey started in 1995 as a teenager, when his father gave him a vintage Breitling Navitimer for Christmas. By Boxing Day, he had taken it apart; by New Year’s Day, it was back together, albeit with bits missing. Can Alibaba’s Singles’ Day shopping festival offer a lifeline to luxury brands? “I used to take juicers and engines to bits,” explains Bamford. “I am highly dyslexic and so I learn by doing.” He still has the Breitling, and he still strips it down. In a pre-lockdown contest with his watchmakers, he took apart a pocket watch faster than any of them. His team got their revenge by posting on social media his advice on how to do it: with a hammer and a screwdriver, and a suggestion to wash it in the dishwasher. In 2000, when Bamford was studying photography in New York, he spent the weekends in flea markets trading vintage watches such as Omega, Breitling Bullhead and Heuer’s Kentucky, which he tweaked by cleaning them up, changing the straps and “doing things to them that made them pop”. Why Tag Heuer still believes in Shanghai The first watch the renegade customiser personalised was a TAG Heuer Monaco , which he gave a fresh black PVD coating and new red hands. He then began customising for friends and it snowballed from there. “The people who like what we are doing are not followers, but people with their own style looking for personalisation.” Bamford’s reputation spread to Switzerland, and Jean-Claude Biver, former president of Louis Vuitton Watchmaking, approached him to work officially with their brands. He personalised top-end timepieces such as the sell-out Carbon Monaco with black opaline dial in 2018, and the Zenith Primero Superconductor. “Nothing for me is time-consuming. I enjoy whatever I do, even the menial things, as long as I have good music to listen to. If time is wasted, I’ve chosen to waste it, such as going running for one hour every day to clear my head when no one can contact me.” What was Trevor Noah’s life like before the models, mansions and millions? An early riser, Bamford found time on his hands during lockdown, as he wasn’t commuting to his Mayfair headquarters. Aside from working on three new product launches due next year, he ran a popular social media series called “GB Asks”. Interviewees included movers and shakers in the watch world, top chefs, sports personalities and photographers. “It was beautiful to put together because of how everyone reacted during lockdown, saying, ‘Yeah, I will do it’, when normally they wouldn’t have the time.” George’s watches “Jean-Claude Biver had said to me, ‘Stop being in the shade and start being in the sun.’ Standing next to him at Baselworld, launching this watch, was a ‘pinch’ moment. I am now feeling the sun.” Why these 5 luxury watches say, ‘I love you’ on Mother’s Day “The vintage Breitling Navitimer has been sent back to Breitling many times, who ask if they can polish the case back, and I say no because I love all the dents and cracks because it’s me, I created them.” Want more stories like this? Sign up here . Follow STYLE on Facebook , Instagram , YouTube and Twitter .