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Bamford Revives the Neprosolar Concept Watch from the ’70s

  • Jun 2, 2024
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Bamford Revives the Neprosolar Concept Watch from the ’70s

Not every watchmaking casualty fell victim to the quartz crisis. In fact, some brands simply waned despite having a quartz focus. One such name is Nepro, an obscure brand that managed to eke out a few innovations before ultimately disappearing. Today, Bamford has debuted a new retro-styled timepiece based on a lost Neprosolar model from Nepro, and it’s only available for one week.

An Innovative Mindset

Taking into account the thousands of watch brands that have ever existed, there is not a lot of information about even some of the most significant names. This may be due to the scarce availability of their products outside of their home countries or a lack of marketing budget or simply because they didn’t last long enough to make much of a splash. And thus, it’s a more curious case when it comes to Nepro, who we found production history that spanned over two decades.

During our research, we discovered an early 1965 table clock that stood 22” tall, dubbed the Rotocontact. In 1970, it debuted the smallest alarm clock in the world with the Pillalarm, followed a few months later by the Minisonic, which was even smaller and featured an electric ring alarm loud enough for the hard of hearing. It sounded for 10 minutes straight until you turned it off. In 1973, Nepro finally put to production the Zanzara 3, the world’s first wristwatch with an electronic buzzer alarm. This had a strange design that looked more like a clock on your wrist than a traditional timepiece. It was followed a year later with the first-ever automatic buzzer alarm watch, which was significantly more accessible.

But then, in 1975, Nepro introduced a revolutionary solid-state quartz watch powered by solar cells, displaying the time in either LCD or LED. Never exiting the concept stages due to the limitations of solar at the time, it still sported a beautiful design with the dial angularity of a “driving watch,” allowing the wearer to tell the time without taking his hand off the steering wheel. 

Later innovations throughout the ‘80s included a wristwatch that you could adjust by pressing the crystal on top of the dial, which it parlayed into a completely see-through table clock. And then the final innovation we could find came in 1989 with the world’s first ultrasonic timepiece. 

Bamford Neprosolar Basics

Bamford’s revival of the Neprosolar looked at the 1976 version that took after the tech developed for the Nepro in 1975, which used solar cells to power the quartz movement. The design language on this follow-up features much cleaner, distinct edges and a decidedly retro aesthetic while retaining the angular placement of the digital dial.

The Neprosolar was largely a forgotten-about concept watch but upon discovering it himself, founder George Bamford couldn’t not see this all the way through:

“When I first saw pictures of that 1970s concept watch a couple of years ago, I couldn’t take my eyes off it. The design was just so out there, a retro-futuristic thing that was somehow familiar and yet completely alien at the same time. I fell down the rabbit hole and the more I found out about it, the more I fell in love with it. How could this watch never have been put into production?”

Like the original, the Bamford Neprosolar features a solar panel on the top of the case, which is made of black PVD stainless steel and stretches 36.2mm across with a matching integrated link bracelet. The rechargeable quartz can power all the way up after 20 hours of sun exposure, which will last for around 500 days if the display is activated just 10 times per day. A button on the side activates the blue OLED digital display, which gives you the time, as well as the day and month. A series of four dots indicates the power reserve on the movement. Heightening the nostalgic evocations, the Neprosolar comes in a stainless steel cylinder that lifts up like a top-secret canister. Bamford also moves the branding from underneath the dial to above the solar panel.

Spec Sheet

Case Size: 36.2mm
Case Thickness: 11mm
Case Material: Black PVD steel
Water Resistance: 30m
Movement: Solar-powered quartz
Band: Black PVD steel link bracelet
Limited Edition?: Yes, unspecified

Pricing & Availability

Starting May 30, the Bamford Neprosolar will be available for pre-order for one week only in unspecified limited quantities for £699 (~$890). Although customers won’t get them delivered until October. Head over to Bamford’s website to learn more.

Bamford Neprosolar

Bamford brings to life the forgotten-about Neprosolar concept model from 1976, including its nostalgia-triggering angular design and handsome case structure.

Bamford Neprosolar 0 Hero

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