A Report from the very First Elliot Brown Project 354 Special Meeting
Thanks to Mr. J for his lovely words.
Amongst the many benefits of being a regular client of Page and Cooper, is being invited to one of their thoroughly enjoyable watch launch events.
On the 11th of January this year, it was the turn of ‘Project 354’, a limited edition of 60 watches based on the Holton Professional model in collaboration with the makers Elliot Brown of Poole, UK. These 60 are further rarified by subdivision into just 15 pieces of each of the four different dial and case-finishing variants, for a truly ‘limited’ number of each watch.
Project 354 shadows the MOD mil-spec Holton Professional, developed with and currently being issued to some particularly elite members of Her Majesty’s Armed Forces.
Around 30 of us gathered at a (very seriously) special and storied West London venue, to be schooled in the arcane details of how modern Military watches are conceived, trialled and evolved to the point of attaining a NATO ‘Stock Number’. Other items with an ‘NSN’ could be as mundane as a ration tin or as costly as a main battle tank. I doubt even the latter has been subjected to more torture on the way to its place on a Quartermaster’s spreadsheet.
Elliot Brown founders, Ian and Alex, told the full story and pictures, demonstrating components and discussing the incorporation of feedback from the customer trials. These are customers who you seriously don’t want to offend, so EB went the extra mile in testing. In fact, when it comes to the water resistance and hardiness of the cased watch, they went an extra 50,000 nautical miles to be precise. When you hold in your hand their (still ticking) test article that spent many months attached to the business end of a Round-the-World racing yacht, any doubts about build quality are put to rest.
Every single Project 354 has been tested more than once to ensure their performance is consistent with this standard. For greater insight please refer to the blogs on both EB and P&C’s respective websites. Also on P&C’s Instagram back roll is a video clip of a cased movement being whacked with an automatic mallet to a brisk 5000g impact. Multiple times. Ouch...
There were equally interesting presentations by the UK Forces Charity, SSAFA, who will benefit from the sale of every Project 354 watch sold, and also from our generous host for the event. This Gentleman described his own illustrious and eventually high-ranking military career with great modesty and dry humour. At the end of his talk, I was convinced that he remains as thoroughly ‘impact resistant’ as the watch, and probably swims 50,000 nautical miles daily before head-butting a 3kg mallet just to stay in shape.
Other highlights were the gifting to SSAFA (for fund-raising) of armfuls of watch straps crafted from repurposed MOD Rifle slings by an ex RN Mariner. Please contact Page and Cooper if you would like to support this excellent Charity and the generosity of the strap-smith.
Another serving member of HM’s Armed Forces brought along a superb personal collection of Military-issued watches from both his own career and those of his family members. It is this sort of shared passion for watches which characterises Page and Cooper gatherings, and makes them so enjoyable.
I write this as a similar enthusiast, and am wearing my Project 354 watch as I type. I’m too long in the tooth to ever head-butt a mallet or swim in the Antarctic Ocean, but I still dream about pushing my physical limits. Now I have the watch with which to time my delusions, and if you are intrigued by Project 354, I would urge you to act fast.
My apologies to the Professionals who wear these Holton watches in anger; you have my utmost respect, but my watch is even more exclusive than yours...