Burberry (Est. 1856) Gabardine, a fabric name as familiar today as cotton, is a tough, tightly woven material used to make suits, overcoats, trousers, uniforms, windbreakers and other garments. The word was first used to refer to an item of clothing (a long cassock) that was worn beginning in the 15th century. In the 16th century, it was known as an outer garment for the poor and is referred to that way in Shakespeare’s, The Merchant of Venice. Since 1904, however, it has the general meaning of “closely woven cloth.”
The modern use of the term as a textile rather than as a garment dates to Thomas Burberry (1835 – 1926) who invented the fabric, revived the name in 1879, and patented it in 1888. It made Burberry’s fortune and established his company’s reputation.
Thomas Burberry was born in Brockham Green, Surrey and attended Brockham Green Village School. His father was a grocer and farmer. After serving his apprenticeship at a local draper’s shop, Thomas opened his own drapery business in 1856 located in Basingstoke, Hampshire. He called it, T. Burberry and Sons. At that time Basingstoke was a small country town with a population of just over 4,500.
Business thrived and by 1870 Burberry became known as an “emporium” with an increased focus on the development of outdoor wear for local residents and visiting sportsmen who frequented the store. In 1879, Burberry introduced ‘gabardine’ which proved to be a durable, water-resistant, and breathable fabric in which the yarn is waterproofed before weaving.
After introducing gabardine, the business expanded and made money. By the census of 1871, Burberry is described as a “draper and manufacturer employing 70 hands”. The company further expanded opening a shop in 1891 in Haymarket, London with others in Reading, Manchester, Liverpool, and Winchester. Burberry’s products were also sold through thousands of agencies. Exports abroad began with wholesale branches being opened in Paris, New York and Buenos Aires.
In 1901, the Burberry Equestrian Knight Logo was developed containing the Latin word “Prorsum,” meaning forwards. It was registered it as a trademark in 1909.
In 1911, Burberry became the outfitter for Roald Amundsen, the first man to reach the South Pole, and for Ernest Shackleton who led a 1914 expedition across Antarctica. A Burberry gabardine jacket was worn by George Mallory on his attempt to scale Mount Everest in 1924.
Endorsements by the rich and famous was always welcomed by Burberry. Products were also marketed to the armed forces and were worn by Lord Kitchener and Lord Baden Powell.
Thomas Burberry retired from the company in 1917 and in 1920 the company went public on the London Stock Exchange incorporated as Burberrys Limited. Thomas’ two sons, Arthur and Thomas were joint managing directors. Soon after this, the now famous check design, the ‘Burberry check,’ was trademarked and used in coat linings.
Gabardine was not the only Burberry advance: the British heritage label that bears Thomas’ name grew from another of its founder’s iconic inventions: the trench coat.
Before being termed as ‘trench,’ it was known as the Tielocken and worn by British officers. It featured a belt with no buttons and was double- breasted to protect the body from the neck to the knees. The term “Trench coat” was coined when British officers wore them at the trenches during World War I.
Nowadays, the firm upholds its legacy of innovation as current creative director Christopher Bailey modernizes Burberry’s definitively British look with an artistic and tech-savvy spirit. Updated iterations of the house’s signature Nova check appears on ready-to-wear essentials and quality leather goods.
Slim-cut Sterling suits, button-downs, sweaters, and leather brogues cater to modern fashion-while casual basics include t-shirts, knitwear, and sneakers in evocative colors. Seasonal variations on the label’s signature trench coat round out its menswear offerings.
Today, Burberry is as popular as ever and continues to produce trend clothes and accessories, the most prestigious of which are watches.
A Burberry watch is made in “Fashion” style meaning that the watch is designed to be as trendy as a bag or gloves. While the miniature movement is essential, the style and shape are more important.
At the beginning of the 21st century, almost all flourishing Fashion Houses began producing fashion-and jewelry-watches. Burberry was no exception.
The Burberry fashion watch is emblematic of trend and elegance. A reserved classic style Burberry Signature is embodied in the Classic series that is equipped with a round dial. Straps are of soft, black natural leather. Bracelets are made of stainless steel. The series has a Moon’s phase indicator.
The Signature series also has elegant, classical style. The straps for this collection are in three main colors: black, white and beige. These colors create a large size check that conveys the Burberry symbol. Steel bracelets are as popular as the straps made of real leather. Some bracelets consist of steel sections of original shapes combined with leather straps.
Burberry also markets the Charm and Waterloo series. The bracelets for these are made of silver chains where little charms of popular UK symbols are fixed. These include the British flag, the famous double-decker bus, the Tower of London, and other charms. The bracelet, even without the watch, is a masterpiece of jewelry art.
A Burberry watch has a high-quality quartz movement and is waterproof 30 to 50 meters. Originally, Burberry made their watches, however, in the early 2000s, Burberry started using Fossil to make them. This has resulted in Fossil making Burberry watches for the international market.
Until recently, most Burberry watches have been strictly fashion-friendly, i.e., mostly quartz watches with department store sales points. The newly released Britain models introduce a mostly mechanical series intended for the high-end market. It is through these timepieces that Burberry hopes to join the ranks of fashion brands like Ralph Lauren, Gucci, Zegna, and others who have their name on pricey watches.
There are four main Burberry Britain timepieces. The flagship model is the distinctive Britain Automatic Power Reserve watch. It comes in a sizable 47mm wide steel case with an IP coated gunmetal finish. The case design has an exhibition case back with a view of the mechanical movement. All mechanical Britain watches offer this.
The dial is military style with gunmetal tones and enough luminosity for night viewing. Inside the Burberry Britain Automatic Power Reserve is a Swiss Soprod caliber 9040 automatic movement with time, date and power reserve indicators.
Other models include a 47mm wide quartz chronograph model, two, three-hand automatics in a 43mm wide case, and a 38mm wide quartz model for women with 124 diamonds on the bezel. Each of the watches contain Swiss movements.
The Britain Chronograph comes in a black case but only has a Ronda quartz chronograph movement. Also available are the 43mm wide Britain Automatic models. These handsome timepieces are equipped with three-hand Swiss ETA 2824 automatic movements and clean looking dials. The brushed steel cases come matched with a strap or fine looking metal bracelet.
Prices for the watches start at $1,795 for the Burberry Britain Automatic. That goes up to $3,995 for the Britain Automatic Power Reserve and $4,995 for the Britain Quartz because of the diamonds.
Burberry markets watches for men and women. Their characteristic checkered pattern is often seen in the band material used with the watches. Classic in appearance, some Burberry watches, as noted, can be expensive, however some begin at about $300 USD while others can occasionally be purchased for less. This is much higher than Fossil branded watches that can start below $75.
In addition to Burberry stores, their watches are sold at various locations. They can also be purchased online at sites like Amazon. Offline they are available at stores such as Nordstrom, Neiman Marcus and Macy’s. The price for the watches at non-Burberry stores is often comparable to those purchased from company stores.
Due to their high price and value, fake Burberry watches also abound. Buyers and collectors should be careful when encountering fake Burberry watches as well as fakes of other high-end brand watches.
The Burberry trench coat became an unquestionable style icon. A Burberry watch makes one an owner of an exact and reliable timepiece, shows one’s status, and confirms one’s taste and style.