Gerald Benney, The Marlborough Silversmith Who Loves to Run Marathons
PUBLISHED: 12:39 11 January 2010 | UPDATED: 16:09 20 February 2013
Wiltshire magazine runs hard to catch up with a Marlborough silversmith and watch designer whose obsession is time and how to beat it.
If you want to know the time in the middle of the Sahara, you could ask the odd passing Touareg if you can find one, although we suspect that time there on an inferno-hot day is largely a case of waiting and wishing until the sun goes down. On the other hand, if Simon Benney from Brinslade near Marlborough happens to be around, and there's every likelihood he will be come the next Marathon de Sables in 2010, you could do a lot worse than enquire of him, because he'll no doubt be sporting one of his own new timepiece creations.
Son of eminent silversmith Gerald Benney, Simon has followed in his father's footsteps. Growing up surrounded by creativity it's no surprise that he developed the passion and skills of a craftsman. "My father taught me the silversmith trade from a young age," he told us. Developing the skills and expertise essential for working with precious metals, he honed those skills further when he attended the renowned Gemological Institute of America in Santa Monica, specialising in jewellery and gemology, where he eventually graduated at the top of his class.
Once he returned to the UK, Simon began designing jewellery and watches, creating the 'Benney' signature look. In 1994 he opened the Benney showroom on Walton Street, London SW1, a home to the creativity and skilled craftsmanship he is renowned for. Today, Simon still lives in Brinslade and runs a workshop there as well as in London. His talent and experience in crafting bespoke items has made him a favourite with Her Majesty the Queen and HRH the Prince of Wales, having been awarded four Royal Warrants over the last decade.
"Watches have been a passion of mine since I owned my first at the age of eight," Simon said. "I'm just as fascinated now by the way they work and look as when I was a child. In fact, I own a collection of over 100 watches, ranging from simple Swatches to Rolex. As the father of five children, Simon's other passion is his family, closely followed by his love of running. Having run the London Marathon, Simon's next challenge will be the Marathon de Sables, a notorious test of endurance, where runners take part in seven marathons over six days in the Sahara desert - an extraordinary feat that he is currently training hard for, running 40 miles a week in the lanes along the White Horse Trail, upping the running to 70 miles a week in the autumn.
"Over the years I've been lucky enough to create a number of extraordinary designs for private commissions but it has long been a dream of mine to design and launch a diffusion watch line that will allow a younger, wider audience to own a beautifully designed but more affordable Benney watch." With the approach of the Marathon de Sables that chance has now come and Simon's new line is one that is ideally suited to his love of running. "The watch face features two steel rings interlocked with shock-absorbing springs, which transmit impact away from the movement mechanics," Simon explained. "Extreme sports require innovative designs that not only perform well but look good. I think I've achieved that with this watch; it combines both technology and performance, it's built for pedal-to-the-floor, adrenalin-fuelled conditions and it looks stylish, too."
And let's not overlook the fact that it might also come in handy for a spot of haggling with the local tribesmen if he happens to take the wrong turning in the Sahara!
Benney watches, including the new Geosporter range, are available from www.benneywatches.com.