How to start a watch brand

I have written a couple times about a new brand from my home county of Hampshire, Hamtun watches. The company launched their first watch in July 2017, the H1 and affordable dive watch, using the crowdfunding site Kickstarter. This was subsequently followed by the more “dressy” Neon

The H1 Diver

The founder of the company, Ross Davis, is very keen to share his insights and experiences in getting his company off the ground. On a website (www.dontdoanmba.com)  separate from Hamtun he has published his tips. Well worth a read if you were wondering what it takes.

 

 

Farer Automatic Chronograph

Farer’s launch of an automatic chronograph took me a little by surprise, mainly because it was my first week back from my holidays which meant me having to catch up on paying day job. This is not the first time this has happened since the brand appeared in 2015. I must get better at seeing their PR releases.

Farer Cobb

 

The new range consists of three versions the Cobb (above), the brown dialed Eldridge and  mint handed Segrave.

The 39mm cases are built around the Swiss-made ETA 2894-2 Élaboré movement. The 316L stainless steel outer case profile has a depth of just 12.5m, the drop lugs should keep the straps tight to create a case that hugs the wrist.

Farer Eldridge
Farer Segrave
Farer Segrave

 

These new additions to the Farer range nicely follow the design code of the previous models of traditional looking case designs combined with modern color ways on their dials.

I have still yet to try any of the Farer range so must reserve final judgement but these very individual pieces do look great value at £1675.

 

Scottish Watch

As far as I know Scotland does not have many existing watch brands, although I do have a vague memory of mentioning one in the past but I cannot find the post. This is clearly surprising for such a proud and creative nation.

This week saw the launch of AnOrdain, a new company offering a 38mm steel cased Swiss automatic with some really nice enamel dials.

The Model 1

The company of six people have been studying enameling for three years and experimented with 168 different enamels from five countries. The are now producing an average of eight dials a week in five different colours.

The watch itself is a classic three hander using a Sellita SW200-1 movement.  The watches being assembled in Scotland.

The distinguishing feature of these watches is clearly the dials. Enameling looks to be making a comeback with British companies of late, witness Charles Fordsham ( Actually ceramic – thanks Watchnerd) and Fears to name two other brands that offer it. I am not expert enough to comment on the different processes. I can say that AnOrdain us enamel copper dials using very hot ovens, this apparently is very difficult and results in many rejects.

I am really looking forward to hopefully seeing one of these watches close up as I am sure that is the best way to appreciate the look of these dials. However, if the finish of the rest of the watch lives up to the images online this new venture offers an attractive watch with a reliable movement for a reasonable price of just over a grand at £1050. For more information I suggest you visit their website .

 

6BB – Fabulous Four

The launch of the  Vertex M100 made many of us non-military specific watch enthusiasts familiar with the concept of the “Dirty Dozen” , a series of watches built by different manufacturers to British Ministry of Defence specifications. Given the number of watches and the limited numbers of particular watches available this is quiet a difficult collection to complete.

For those wanting  a different challenge I have recently discovered the “ Fabulous Four” , or 6BB aircrew chronographs from the ‘70/80s. Four companies were contracted to produce these watches over that period: Hamilton, CWC, Newmark and Precista (prior to the 1970s there had been others).

 

6BB Design

 

These watches were based on the MOD specification DEF-STAN 66-4 (Part 2) issued in April 1970 which included a small but significant change from its previous version of 1969 . It  allowed for pilot’s chronograph cases to feature either one or two “pushpieces,” or buttons, to control the watch’s chronograph function. That change allowed for manufactures to use the cheaper Valjoux 7733 movement.

These mechanical chronographs were eventually phased out in favour of watches with quartz movements.

Modern versions of three of the watches CWC, Precista and Hamilton  are available and now the Newmark version is being re-launched via a Kickstarter offer this month. This watch re-edition is of the watch issued to RAF crew in 1980 but with the modern a reliable Seiko VK64A Meca Quartz movement.

The specifications will be :

16L Brushed Stainless Steel case
Case Diameter 38mm 12 – 6 and 41mm 3 – 9
Lug to Lug Length 46.5mm
Total Height (including crystal) 12.8mm
Lug Width 20mm
Water Resistant to 50 Metres

Domed Acrylic crystal with tension ring
Matt black dial with Super Luminova C3
Frosted steel hands with Super Luminova C3

The initial images look promising.

The new Newmark 6BB

For those making an early commitment the watch will be available for £200.

I am keen to understand more about this watch although my initial thought are slight disappointment at the choice of movement, I would have preferred to see a mechanical one. However, I reserve judgement until I actually see one of the watches.

If you are interested you can visit the companies website.

 

 

Schofield Six Pips Podcast

I have just dedicated two evenings to listening to the first and second episodes of the Schofield podcast – Six Pips.

Both episodes feature the “Principle Keeper” of Schofield watches, Giles Ellis in discussion with his colleague Harry.

The first episode covers at length Giles’ thought on design, at well over an hour it is pretty long but really fascinating, so much so that I immediately listened to the second episode the following evening.

In the second episode, which debatably should have been the first, Giles explains how and why he founded the Schofield watch company. Whilst doing so he gives great insight into what the brand is all about. We also gives some very useful pointers to anyone thinking of starting a watch company  thinking it is an easy way to make money ( a clue, it is not).

I always find, after listening to the personalities creating British watch brands, a great admiration for their passion. People like Giles really love what they are creating despite the numerous obstacles.

These podcasts are definitely worth listening to. Personally, I am really looking forward to the next episode.

 

Fears Brunswick

I have been following very closely the development of the Fears Watch Company since before the launch at the Salon QP two years ago.

The company launched with the very nicely built quartz powered Radcliffe range. This was an understandable first step for the relaunch of a company, self-funded by the young Nicholas Bowman-Scargill, but does limit the appeal of the watches to many watch lovers. During my various conversations with Nicholas I understood that he would at sometime in the future launch some more traditional mechanically powered watches. With this in mind I was excited when we arranged to meet to chat about the next Fears developments. Nicholas excitedly pulled out the Redcliffe Continental, still quartz powered.  We spent sometime discussing the obvious merits of this addition to the range. Then came the real surprise, these drawings below, for a hand wound mechanical watch.

Brunswick inspiration

The Brunswick, named after the location in Bristol of the old export department, was launched at last years Salon QP to considerable acclaim. The watch has been made in batches of fourteen, so there are not many available, so when Nicholas dropped me a note offering me the chance to review an example of the watch I jumped at it. The watch I have been wearing for the last week is the prototype, which Nicholas pointed out does not have the brass movement ring of the production watch and should not be considered waterproof.

You may have read that I am sceptical about the need for large luxurious boxes for watches mainly due to the storage limitations of many modern homes. This said the box from Fears is a work of art, so maybe I can reconsider. As you will see from the pictures the black ash box features an engraved map of Brunswick Square, which is just one of the amazing details.

The box

The watch arrived with a beautiful black leather strap, which  as an irregular suit wearer, I find a little too formal for everyday use. I therefore swapped it over a series of Perlon straps which add to the slightly retro feel the cushion case gives. For the summer I particularly like the light grey strap.

Brunswick on grey perlon

Having said that I was also quiet keen also on the versaltilty of the brown version as well.

Brunswick and brown perlon

Then if you want to feel even more summery, you could try a brighter perlon – green maybe.

Brunswick on green perlon

I also tried a blue Fears leather strip from my colleagues Redcliff Continental, which combined very well with the really nice blue skeleton hands which are such an important feature of this watch.

Brunswick on blue leather

I think I have demonstrated what a versatile watch the Brunswick is. It could really be all the watch you need that watch many enthusiasts are searching – the “one watch”.

It satisfies all my “one watch” criteria :

  • It has “classic” good looks
  • It has 100m water resistant
  • The straps are very easily changed
  • It has a proven reliable Swiss movement
  • It can do “smart” or “casual”

Apart from versatility what makes this watch “one watch” material is the detailing and quality. The more you look at it the more you notice, from the different finishes on the various surfaces of the case, to the beautifully traditional looking cold enameled face. If you listen to Chris Mann’s  excellent Time4apint podcast about the Brunswick , Nicholas explains in quiet some detail the extra ordinary amount of work that the British watchmakers, that he works with, put into making this beautiful cushion case watch. So thanks to Chris I am saved the time of going into a great deal of detail, which I would anyway do badly.

In conclusion this is a lovely watch that shows what this young brand is capable of – I for one am really looking forward to see what comes after this – watch this space.

 

Pinion TT Available

Sorry for the blatant lift from the Pinion website but I wanted to post the availability of Pinion’s latest watch the “TT – Twin Time” as soon as possible.  Pinion have managed to produce a great looking titanium watch, a material that I am usually not too keen on for some unknown reason.

Pinion TT Maroon

Pinion TT

The Pinion TT (Two Time-zones) is a 42mm titanium GMT watch with dual time-zone functionality and powered by a Swiss automatic movement.

The Pinion TT is available in two dial variants: Maroon and Anthracite, with each titanium GMT watch feature a contrasting colour scheme and central seconds hand. On both models, a second time-zone is indicated by a beau-blue coloured GMT hand that can be configured to point at the 24-hour numerals on the dial.

The 42mm case is manufactured from titanium which makes the watch around 25% lighter than its steel equivalent ( Axis II Steel ) yet titanium is stronger than steel and features a distinctive grey hue colouring in a brushed/satin finish.

As with previous watches in the Pinion collection, such as the Pure and R-1969, the Pinion TT watch features applied typographic numerals that are raised above the base of the dial. Because of this, the design of the 24 hour GMT hand features a curve to allow it to pass these numerals.

At the heart of the titanium gmt watch is a Swiss made automatic movement, ETA 2893-2 that provides reliable and accurate timekeeping. The decorated movement and Pinion beau-blue winding rotor are visible through the glass exhibition case back on the reverse.

As with all Pinion watches, the TT is water resistant to 100 metres depth; it is finished, assembled and tested by experienced watchmakers in England.

I am looking forward to seeing these watches in the metal

Time4aPint – Fears

You might have noticed from my instagram feed that I am currently reviewing the Fears Brunswick.

Fears Brunswick

However before I get round to writing my full review I feel obliged to highlight this really nice interview with Nicholas Bowman-Scargill, the re-founder of Fears watches on the latest Time4aPint podcast.

I have had to listen to this episode twice and I still think I am missing a greta deal of the detail, a real treat for British watch fans