Our occasional series profiling the prized watches of the world’s collectors takes us to Mayfair and one of the UK’s most prestigious cobblers
By James Buttery
WHO: George Glasgow Jr, CEO of the family-owned Mayfair shoemaker George Cleverley
WATCH: Patek Philippe Nautilus 5711/1A
George Cleverley is one of those intrinsically British operations that earns plaudits by continuing to do what it does best as the decades trundle by. The Mayfair cobbler makes shoes today for the likes of Daniel Day Lewis and Jason Statham in exactly the same way as it did for Winston Churchill and Humphrey Bogart, with each stage of the process carried out hand. A pair of their handmade, bespoke shoes costs anything upwards of £3,600.
Today, George Glasgow Jr guides the business forward as chief executive – his father and chairman, George Sr, spent years working under Cleverley. Father and son both take great pride in the business’s independent status when so many artisan companies are quietly absorbed by conglomerates.
“It’s almost unique that the company has been able to evolve in the manner it has done, espouses Glasgow. “A lot of British brands, while they might have heritage, have found themselves not quite relevant today.”
The chief executive wasn’t handed the top spot without earning it. He began learning his trade in the workshop, before taking responsibility for the business’s international trunk shows, a biannual world tour that saw him travel the globe and develop it into a significant part of the business.
As such, he purchased a Patek Philippe 5130 world timer in 2011, explaining “that was always interesting to me because I travel so much, I liked the idea that it carried the name of so many cities I visited.” Read our story on the successor to that great watch, the reference 5930 worldtimer chronograph, here.
But the allure began to wear off when he realised his personal style was more stripped-back, saying: “I began to find it a bit busy, and then looked at the shoes I make and they’re all quite classic. I’m more of a plain person, which is why I started to look at the Nautilus.
“It’s the perfect watch for someone in my profession – you can dress up, you can dress down, you can wear it with a suit, you can wear it with jeans. I always feel you can tell a lot about a man by his shoes and the watch he’s wearing – you can really sum up a character using those two things.”
Glasgow Jnr finally took delivery of his new 5711/A just last month after a couple of years of mulling it over, but didn’t mind the wait: “I like the idea of scarcity and the fact that with that particular watch, they don’t flood the market, there are waiting lists – that means a lot. I think that Patek Philippe has a lot of the same codes that we hold to; we haven’t changed our tradition for a century and we haven’t sold out.”