Transparency statement: I purchased this watch with my own money and have received nothing in return for this article
A few weeks back at the Bremont Townhouse I was introduced to a chap named Dan (ig: @danc21cy) that had worked with Bremont on a Special military limited edition project for his military unit. Dan kindly took some time to sit down with me and talk through his special project and we went on to discuss watches more broadly. Having stayed in touch after the event, Dan introduced me to a British brand I hadn’t heard of before named Elliot Brown.
Dan owns a special edition version of the Holton Professional developed with Page and Cooper known as Project 354 and after discussing the piece on a number of occasions he allowed me to try it on. I was already interested from the website material, but having tried it on I was instantly doomed and succumbed to the inevitable desire to purchase one.
The Holton Professional is a watch borne out of a specific set of requirements from a specialist military unit from the British armed forces and is the first military issue watch to be created by a British company in 10 years.
The Brief: capable of prolonged exposure to water and dust, durable, shock resistant, clear visibility day or night, unidirectional timing bezel operable with a gloved hand, easy strap changes and comfortable strapping options that don’t break.
- Movement: Swiss ronda calibre 715
- Case diameter: 43mm (excl. crown)
- Lug width: 22mm – screw in bars with supplied proprietary tool
- Crystal: Sapphire crystal with AR coating on the inner side
- Case material: 316L stainless steal, treated with gunmetal PVD at 0.8 microns for durability
- Crown: triple sealed screw down crown at 4 o’clock
This piece is rugged, really rugged, there’s no denying it. Sitting here wearing it as I type, it feels purposeful and solid. I purchased it on the rubber strap option (reference 101-001-R06) and at the time of writing, the piece is £450 (or £425 on a NATO strap). The watch offers 200 metres of water resistance as marked on the dial at 6 o’clock.
The piece is incredibly legible, readable at the merest of glances with a mixture of C3 coated luminous numerals at 12, 3, 6 and 9 along with parallelogram hour indices. There’s a minute track running between those whilst the rehaut shows printed 24 hour markings that are not luminous. The date window features at 1630 on the dial and is my least favourite element of the watch. It’s very subtle and shares its background colour with the dial, but I would love to see a dateless version of the timepiece in the future. NB: The special edition Project 354 mentioned above offers a dateless dial, but these are very limited pieces and mostly sold out
The watch boasts a PVD coated, 120 click, unidirectional divers bezel which has been hardened to 1200HV on the Vickers scale. The outside of the bezel is knurled for easy grip and operation even with slippery hands and the website bears a warning that this could fray shirt cuffs. This watch is so rugged, it eats shirts to insist it is worn with appropriate clothing!
The PVD feels and looks like it is extremely well applied. Whilst it is a thick coating, the case still holds shape and form. The subtle signed crown at 4 o’clock is small and well tucked away, so it won’t catch on anything or impact into the back of the hand. I was initially concerned about its usability but its knurled edges allow for excellent grip to unscrew it and it’s easy to operate.
The rubber strap is significant and is fitted with a handsome signed PVD buckle and the first keeper is held in place by rubber ridges on the strap side. There is a secondary floating keeper to hold onto the strap tail. The end of the strap has a gentle barb to it which the floating keeper holds onto making absolutely sure that the strap tail can’t become loose of its own accord. This is a bit of a double edge sword, whilst you can rely on this not coming undone, it is somewhat hard work to release by hand! This is clearly intentional and one easy solution is to simply keep wearing this lovely timepiece.
The shaped strap is attached to the watch head by solid stainless steel screw in bars, which are changeable using the supplied tool. This allows for ease of changing the strap whilst maximising the security of the bars, not leaving one to rely upon the springs in a spring bar resisting failure. It feels an awful lot like you could hang off the strap on this watch, although I haven’t tested this for obvious reasons!
Overall this is a very robust strap, It does attract lint and the case does pick up a few skin oil marks as would be expected with this type of covering, but it happily cleans off and this watch is designed to be grubby and it suits it down to the ground.
The case back is bolted down with 6 hex bolts, which gives a uniform compression seal and allows the correct tension for the proprietary shock absorption system implemented by Elliot Brown. This is designed to protect the movement from shock impacts to the timepiece. It also features the NATO stock number engraved below the Elliot Brown shield logo.
The Holton Professional is a handsome looking watch with a lot of things going for it – it wears very nicely, feels robust and is extremely legible. If you want a watch that you can take out and about, in all conditions and not have to worry about it, then this watch is for you. It’s quite pricey for a quartz, but the quality is definitely there and creating this sort of watch for smaller companies isn’t a small investment for them, so I think the price can be justified.
The bezel clicks feels well made and only has a limited amount of back play. It also lines up well with the dial. The clicks are nice and satisfying and it’s easy to adjust, but doesn’t feel like it will move easily from being knocked or brushed on something.
If you aren’t keen on G-Shocks and like a good robust watch you can put through its paces then this should definitely be on your shortlist.