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TMB Art Metal

CW and TMB Art Metal Collaborations

Scratching around in the ground for pieces of an old Battle of Britain aircraft may seem an unlikely way to start an accessories brand, but it worked for Christopher Bennett, founder of TMB Art Metal. The one-time photographer for the Red Arrows aerobatic team had always had an interest in discovering lost objects and, in particular, what’s termed ‘aviation archaeology’ – the recovery of WW2 crashed aircraft.

“My passion finally led to my focus on the Hurricane fighter that was involved in one of the most famous actions of the Battle of Britain, when pilot Ray Holmes rammed a German bomber over London to save Buckingham Palace, and survived to tell the tale by bailing out of his plummeting aircraft. After many years of determined research, I succeeded in recovering the Hurricane’s wreckage from fifteen feet beneath Buckingham Palace Road. Much of the remains of the historic aircraft ended up in the Imperial War Museum, but some – lumps of useless corroded Rolls-Royce Merlin engine casing – I had cast into commemorative sculptures of the Hurricane, one of which was presented to The Queen at Buckingham Palace.”

“Such was the interest in the concept – turning redundant historic metal into displayable, collectable or functional items – that in 2006 I formed TMB Art Metal, the name inspired by the Hurricane’s squadron code TM-B.”

Since then, Chris has sourced metals from famous, often hugely valuable cars and aeroplanes and ‘up-cycled’ it into striking items such as cufflinks.

“It takes a lot of research to track down damaged or corroded parts from major restoration projects," says Chris. "You have to deal with world-renowned companies to ensure the provenance of the metal, which is central to its authentication.”

“To me the real appeal is in knowing what the metal was once part of, where it’s been and what it’s done. It may be mere aluminium, which as a material is virtually worthless, but the value is in its provenance. Some people will get that, others won’t. Those who do ‘get it’ tend to appreciate the finer things in life, such as fine cars and fine watches.”

“I’d always been keen to get involved with watches – watches incorporating historic metals, but to start from scratch would be a huge challenge. Hence the logic to tie-in with an established watch brand such as CW. CW was an ideal partner because being a relatively new brand itself meant I could get involved with the project, which would be unlikely with larger companies. I also find it easy to deal with Mike, Chris and Peter and can sense their own passion and pride for what they do and have achieved. I initiated things by proposing a possible collaborative project and the C70 DBR1-AM100 watch, in which I had no real involvement design wise, was the result. It’s always exciting to see the metal being used in an imaginative and dynamic way.”

Other TMB + CW watches have included the C8 P7350 (pictured above – also known as ‘the Spitfire watch’), the C9 GT40 – a watch that contained a piece of a wheel spinner from the double Le Mans-winning GT40, #P-1075 – and, most recently, the C8 ‘Al Deere’ TMB Limited Edition.

Who knows what might be next?