North East watch brand celebrates best of the region with new model

A new luxury watch brand based in North Shields has launched its first model, inspired by the North East’s rich academic and industrial heritage.

Northwind is the brainchild of Gateshead-born businessman Lee Smith, a watch-aficionado who wanted to create a watch brand that represents the best of the North.

After years of running a specialist watch business importing exclusive brands from Russia, USA, Switzerland and Germany Lee spotted a gap in the market for something that celebrated his own region.

Lee comments: “I found it fascinating that lots of countries and cultures tell their stories through their timepieces.

After importing watches like the Sturmanskie Gagarin (worn by the first man in space) or the Vostok Komandirskie (issued to Russian Servicemen and Women), I thought that I could do something that would show off the North East to the rest of the world.”

Geordie Shore has shown people how we party in the North but Lee wanted to show another side. He turned to the historical heritage of the North East’s people and landscape when creating Northwind.

The world already knows that we play hard. I wanted to show the other side, what we’ve achieved through our hard work. I want to pay homage to the people that were at the forefront of industry, invention and academic study instead of the populist view of a hedonistic North East.

From the first train and first electric light bulb to the Venerable Bede or the scholarly monks of Lindisfarne – industry, innovation and the constant pursuit of knowledge have defined this area. I want Northwind to illustrate that and be a brand for North East men who align themselves with these values.”

Northwind’s first limited edition piece, the Armstrong Automatic, is inspired by inventor, industrialist and philanthropist William Armstrong. Newcastle born Armstrong was a hugely influential businessmen whose other achievements included founding Newcastle University, donating land now recognised as Jesmond Dene to the public, and building Cragside, the world’s first house to be lit by hydroelectricity.

Lee’s watch design references the North’s industrial heritage with a heavy duty and rugged aesthetic – powered by a mechanical movement. The stainless steel is complimented by a leather strap and carry case – suggestive of the role the beautiful and harsh landscape has played in the North’s history.

Lee adds: “We’re less than two months in and we’ve already had keen interest from local retailers. We’re stocked in Union Clothing in Newcastle city centre and Hamiedog Menswear in Whitley Bay, as well as on some locally ran websites.”

I’m a proud northerner and I hope that my brand brings something to the creative tapestry of this region. Something that people can wear, be proud of and enjoy.”

For more information and to purchase the Armstrong visit

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