Love Story: Olivia Burton Big Dial Watch


Good Things Come to Those Who Wait

When my boyfriend asked me what I was after for my birthday this year (see this post for what my 25th birthday haul says about me) I ummed and ahhed for a while, before settling on the idea of a nice new watch. Unsure if I wanted a vintage watch which might be problematic due to upkeep but pretty uninspired by the majority of other watches that don’t cost the earth, I was a bit stumped.

It was on ASOS one day this summer, as I absent-mindedly scrolled through their new accessories, that I saw them. Five or six simply beautiful designs from a new independent watch designer, Olivia Burton. My eyes instantly clamped on the ‘Big Dial’ range of watches though they are all absolutely lovely and that was it. The search was off. Apart from a few non-commital perusals on other watch sites I began to feel like I was cheating on the watch I so coveted: an Olivia Burton it would have to be.

Olivia Burton is the creation of not one person named Olivia Burton, but two designers, neither of whose names contain either Olivia or Burton. They are in fact called Lesa Bennett and Jemma Fennings, who met on their first day at London College of Fashion and dreamed of setting up a business together, according to an interview with Kakao by K. Fed up of not being able to find the kind of watch that fit their style, Lesa and Jemma created Olivia Burton: the name is taken from Lesa’s great-aunt whose style they admire. If that’s not cool enough for you, the designers also wanted to make the watches of the highest design quality, but affordable too. These women are cool.

Here are some of their watches. They are lush. 


Source: Olivia Burton website homepage

The different designs from left to right are: animal motifs, colour crush, big dial the design shown here is actually the one I got, modern vintage, and another colour crush on the end.

The website also has designs such as Woodland and Wonderland, both of which are equally as beautiful and suit a range of styles and budgets. For me, I was looking for a watch that was noticeable but also understated; vintage yet modern; chic yet playful. In the Olivia Burton big dial, I had found it all. The watches are proving incredibly popular, with many designs currently sold out on the website, but also available from ASOS, John Lewis, Harvey Nichols, JOY and Anthropologie, many of which have exclusive watches so have a look around, as well as a number of independent retailers. There’s a comprehensive list of stockists on the Olivia Burton website.

Rather than ordering online, I wanted to have a chance to look at as many designs in person as possible. I am a researcher by trade after all. There’s a Harvey Nichols in Edinburgh and a few stockists near us, but since we had a trip planned at the start of September, when better to make the boy traipse over London with me to find my ideal watch? And that’s just what we did, but the popularity of the watches is clear, and it proved pretty tricky to find all the designs I was thinking about in one place!

One Harvey Nichols, two Anthropologies and three JOYs later, we headed to a small designer shop not far from the London College of Fashion itself, Aida on Shoreditch High Street, which has many, many lovely things, but there was only one stand I was interested in…OLIVIA BURTON, in case you hadn’t guessed. You probably had. If not, you’re clearly just scan-reading. I don’t blame you, I’m particularly verbose today.

Yes yes that’s all very well, but what about the process of your colour choice, Julie, I hear you cry? Well of course, I’m getting to that, patience, for pity’s sake, patience. Before arriving, I was swithering between the Big Dial Black and Gold, the Big Dial Navy & Rose Gold and the Big Dial Mid Brown and Rose Gold, and in the end opted for the Mid Brown and Rose Gold, as the perfect contrast between classic and modern, and I’m yet to find an outfit that doesn’t suit it not that this is a particular concern of mine!

So apart from a bit of a treasure hunt to find the watches in one place, the Olivia Burton shopping experience was a complete success. I then got to enjoy my watch and lived happily ever after. WRONG. There was a bump in the road of my love story: I still had to wait SIX WEEKS until my birthday over a week ago now, how time flies, which was torture. But that dark time is over, and the watch of my dreams has been in my life for a week now and I am CHUFFED, people. Good things really do come to those who wait.

An Olivia Burton love affair

An Olivia Burton love affair


Categories: Fashion

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2 replies

  1. “Yes yes that’s all very well, but what about the process of your colour choice, Julie, I hear you cry? Well of course, I’m getting to that, patience, for pity’s sake, patience.” Brilliant.

    How much attention do you think people pay to your watch? Is it any different from your shoes? That seems to be the standard (at least in my family): what do your shoes say about you? (In my case: scruffy but practical.) Many, many times I’ve heard mum, sister, gran, aunty, etc, etc, “Did you see the state of her shoes? She must be a complete waste of space.” I suppose it’s much like stockings in the 40s and 50s. It was a sign of your economic stability if you had new stockings. Need we descend into Death of Salesman symbolism? No Fiona, no!

    I used to think it was baffling why everybody seemed to pay so much attention to the ‘trivial’ aspects of everyone’s outward appearance. Often lamenting: should we be blaming the consumer culture? Is it simply tradition? But I realised something: I’ve only ever bought one watch in my life, a simple and cheap brown leather hiking watch. As I saw it, the watch stated simply: “I don’t do fashion.” But I suspect that I made the choice for that reason. It was so unfashionable that I had to have it. It was really a statement to any judgement-y onlooker: “Look! Believe me, I don’t like fashion! I don’t want to you to think that I care about how I look!”

    • Haha that Death of a Salesman quip made me chuckle greatly! Truth be told, I’m much more of an accessories (jewellery, scarves, hats etc) person than a shoes person. I think this is partly because I have the most awkwardly shaped feet that I always ruin them (wide foot, narrow ankle, walk lop-sided on the left foot) and so I am ALWAYS the person with the scruffy shoes. I don’t think it’s a sign of being a waste of space in most cases, probably just a sign of walking, which is after all the purpose of shoes 😛 I’d much rather make a statement with a funky skirt or jumper than shoes, to be honest. As for the watch being noticeable, I have had a lot of compliments on it, but it’s very easy to forget about – it’s not too bright or bulky at all that it gets annoying, it’s kind of perfect actually.

      And I think that’s a good point about fashion. I’ve always liked the quote by Oscar Wilde, ‘fashion is something so ugly we have to change it every six months’, not because I don’t like fashion, I like a lot of things about it, but for me it means wearing something a bit different, looking at and appreciating (and perhaps taking inspiration from) the kind of art that you see on the catwalk or on magazines. As for constantly keeping up to date with trends, that’s not for me, or my bank balance. For me fashion is pretty much what you want to do with clothes and whatever, whether it’s currently ‘fashionable’ or not!

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