The grandson of author Daphne Du Maurier has set up a watch company in west Dorset which should be just the tick for literary fans. Joanna Davis reports.

THEY hark back to an age of elegance and allude to timeless works by one of the nation’s best loved writers.

Daphne Du Maurier’s grandson Ned Du Maurier Browning and his wife Marianna have set up their own company Du Maurier watches, based in Holditch, Dorset.

Their elegant timepieces, which are inspired by characters in Daphne Du Maurier’s classic novel Rebecca or by the many other characters that make up the Du Maurier family tree, are set to be exported to a global market.

The luxury watches are designed in-house by Ned and each design is created in limited edition runs of around 300.

Although most of us associate the Du Maurier name with Cornwall, the pair decided to move to Dorset because they fell in love with the county on a visit to Lulworth Cove.

Marianna said: “Dorset is so beautiful. We moved to Tunbridge Wells thinking it was rural but it wasn’t right for us.

“Once Ned didn’t have to commute any more we realised we didn’t have to be linked to London.

"We put our house on the market and we moved to Bridport then eventually we moved to Holditch. We’ve never really looked back, we loved it there.

"A lot of people expect us to live in Cornwall, but being by the sea is what’s really important."

Ned says he has very fond memories of his grandmother Daphne: "I remember endless summer holidays down at her house in Cornwall—sand, sea, cornfields, cricket and rather vicious sword-fights with my brothers, using the never-ending supply of bamboo sticks and fake blood from squashed mulberries!

"I can still feel the whack of a bamboo stick on the knuckles from a stray parry, which always used to bring the game to an abrupt end, with one of us running off in tears to tell my grandmother.

“During the holidays, the days were divided up between me and my brothers—my sister being a little too young at the time—as to who would accompany her each morning on the daily dog walk. These were really lovely times, where we would talk about school, drawing and tell each their stories.

"Mostly though we’d discuss my birthday, as I was lucky enough that it always coincided with the summer holiday in Cornwall and resulted in a trip down to the toy shop in Par with my grandmother, where I got to choose a action man or cricket bat usually!"

The couple, who have two children, have taken advantage of the government initiative Exporting is Great to introduce their watches to a global market.

Actress Emilia Fox, who went to Bryanston School in Dorset, still holidays in Kimmeridge after enjoying childhood holidays on the Dorset coast and is such a fan of Ned and Marianna's designs that she has her own Du Maurier watch.

One customer was so determined to try on a watch that she drove from Plymouth to Jordans Jewellers in Dorchester, the only place in the country where they are sold in a shop, Marianna said.

Marianna says customers seem to have a strong connection with the watches. Daphne Du Maurier's works remain ever-popular with a new adaptation of My Cousin Rachel soon to be released starring Rachel Weisz and Sam Claflin.

“We don’t want to rule the world, we want to make a decent living. The whole ethos of the watches is to take time out and stop and think and be yourself and really appreciate things.

"I think they are so popular because they are very classic and elegant.

“There’s so much emotional buy-in with the watches, there seems to be such a strong link with Daphne Du Maurier and her works.

“A while ago we had a Canadian couple who bought watches for each other for Christmas.

“They both wanted watch number 227. They told me it was their lucky number. They came over to the UK and did a Daphne Du Maurier tour in Cornwall, they went to Fowey and they went to Jamaica Inn and they stayed in room 227, the number of their watch, which they were really excited about.

“The connection seems to be so strong that people who bought a watch over three years ago still email and tell us about the Daphne Du Maurier connection when they visit different locations.”

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