This week the winners of the prestigious GPHG awards were announced and congratulations to Christopher Ward for winning the “Petite Aiguille”, for the Bel Canto chiming watch.
For those of you like me that thought “amazing” but what is the prize for, I will save you time looking it up, “Petite Aiguille” means small needle. This is the prize for watches with a retail price of between CHF 3,500 and CHF 10,000.
I am especially pleased as a friend of mine is on the list to get one. A great news for British watch Christopher Ward a brand until recently known for worthy good value watches. Great news also for British watches overall, I hope this award encourages the public to no longer think the watches being of limited interest to a few enthusiasts her in Britain but finally making a mark on the world stage.
We are now getting used to a regular stream elegantly understated watches from Fears. The latest variant of the now classic Brunswick watch is to my mind their most elegant so far, the Aurora.
The non-limited Fears Brunswick ‘Aurora’ features the first mother of pearl dial to appear on a Fears watch in its 177-year history. Housed in the 40mm Brunswick case, the dial is made from two sections of natural mother of pearl that are cut to different heights. Each piece is hand tinted to a achieve special and unique shade of blue that highlights the natural iridescence of the material. This striking base is then complemented by milled, hand-applied numeral indices in the Fears bespoke ‘Edwin’ typeset, with each numeral diamond polished and coated in precious Rhodium.
Along side the Aurora Fears have announces another “marine themed” variant of the 40mm Brunswick this time with a Copper/Salmon colured dial.
The new Brunswick 40 Copper Salmon, features the same tone of ‘salmon’ as the similar 38mm of 2020 but with a new impression through different dial finishing. The Brunswick 40 Copper Salmon dial features a raised section with hand-brushing in a vertical direction whereas the lower section features a fine sandblast, that gently sparkles when the light catches it. The Brunswick 40 Copper Salmon differs from its smaller sibling with diamond polished applied numerals and bevelled hands both coated in black gold that gives the watch a more contemporary feel.
The Fears Brunswick ‘Aurora’ and Brunswick 40 Copper Salmon are available to purchase from today directly from Fears and via the network of Fears Authorised Stockists around the world. The Brunswick ‘Aurora’ retails on a strap for £3,850 inc. VAT (£3,208.34 ex. VAT) and on a bracelet for £4,050 inc. VAT (£3,375 ex. VAT). The Brunswick 40 Copper Salmon retails on a strap for £3,550 inc. VAT (£2,958.34 ex. VAT) and on a bracelet for £3,750 inc. VAT (£3,125 ex. VAT).
Some of you might be familiar with or have even bought watches from Oakleigh Watches, the established used dealer. The company has been in business now for ten years, so to mark this important point of their history they are marketing their own watch. The Oakleigh Chronograph.
The hand finished 36 mm chronograph case has a sapphire case back through which you can see the Valjoux 7750 automatic movement. The rotor is engraved with the company logo and anniversary details.
The silver plated dial has three sub-dials with a hand turned ‘Clous de Paris’ guilloche pattern and black Roman numeral hour markers and minute track.
The hands are in the Breguet style and are handmade and blued.
The caseback itself is engraved with the company name and the limited edition number of the individual watch.
Each watch is presented in a custom made leather wallet with two alligator patterned leather straps. The straps, one in black and another in dark brown, are handmade by The Strap Tailor and finished with an Oakleigh Watches logo buckle. They feature a quick change spring bar to make them quickly and easily interchangeable.
Handmade by renowned watchmakers Michlmayr & Co in Norwich, there are ten chronograph watches available for advance order at £3000. For more information contact – email@example.com
I have not seen or handled the watches but given the reputation of the team involved this would definitely a watch to consider for those who appreciate this classical style of chronograph.
Grinidgetime was started as a place for me to share information about British watch brands. One of the most important brands in my watch journey is Pinion Watches. It was Piers Berry who first introduced me to the social side of the hobby.
So today when I came across this Talking Time podcast my first thought was to share it with anyone that might be reading Grinidgetime.
This link should take you to Spotify, the podcast is of course available on other platforms. Happy listening
Some of you might have noticed that my posts have become incresingly infrequent. There are a couple of reasons for this, firstly life commitments just didn’t allow enough time. Secondly, the sheer volume of information and news from the the British watch industry was getting a little overwhelming.
Now by happy coincidence there being more news to report comes in a period when I have more time, so I will endeavour to post with a more frequency. My new found enthusiasm has also been fired by this week’s Best of British meet-up organised by Redbar Southeast in Brighton.
As you might imagine this is not the only watch event I have attended recently, but it was one that inspired me. This is largely due to the one panel discussion I attended. The panel consisted of Giles Ellis, of Schofield, Nicholas Bowman-Scargill, of Fears and Richard Benc of Studio Underdog. What interested me was their view on the current state of the British watch industry. In particular the view that the sector is now more confident in its offering. When I started this blog it was because I was interested in the the use of heritage in marketing of British watch brands. Some of the companies and many enthusiasts become obsessed how much of the watch is British. The panel agreed that the sector now has the confidence to move away from this narrow vision, the brands own identities being strong enough to be able to present watches as British regardless of the origins of many of the components used. Here there are many similarities to the car industry. Is a Mini a British car ?
This event also gave me the opportunity to re-connect in person with the brands that have been very much part of by British watch journey. Other than Nicholas and Giles I managed to have chats with Jose of Isotope and Andrew of Zero West. All of whom beamed enthusiasm, the future looks bright . Unfortunately, the interesting developments they were very keen to discuss are all under wraps for future posts.
In political circles they advise not to waste a good crisis. For the British watch world the same needs to be said for a royal event. Last year we had several releases for the Queen’s jubilee. This year we have the coronation of KIng Charles III.
The first release I noticed was from my friends at Fears who offer us a solid gold Brunswick.
In 18-carat yellow gold (rose gold option also available), this hand-built Brunswick features a crimson-red dial with a lightly vertically brushed texture. Adorning this royal canvas are raised yellow-gold plated ‘Edwin’ numerals, paired with solid ‘Fears-shaped’ hands, also plated in yellow gold.
The case includes a coronation hallmark for all pieces ordered during 2023. As with all of their precious metal watches, a flawless diamond is set into the ‘onion’-shaped winding crown. Completing this piece is a Bristol Leather watch strap finished in a matching crimson-red tone and accented with golden-coloured stitching. Should you like the idea of a special gold watch but would prefer a different coloured dial or strap these can be specified as all the watches are built to order. The pricing starts at £17,850 inc. VAT (£14,875 ex. VAT). Reach out to Fears at firstname.lastname@example.org to find out more.
The next option comes from Bremont, a company not known to miss the opportunity to present limited editions. Bremont offer a relatively restrained King Charles III MBII.
This Limited Edition timepiece is now sold out.
Limited to just 150 pieces ( 100 black and 50 white dialled), now all sold, and based on Bremont’s established MB design, this King Charles III Limited Edition celebrates the coronation of His Majesty with a special case back engraving and complimentary commemorative coin with each watch. If you managed to get your order in they were offered at a reasonable £4495. for more details try the website or a Bremont boutique.
Again a limited edition, this time 30 pieces now all sold out. The bronzed cased, William Wood British Coronation chronograph features a British Racing Green Union Jack dial, a new up-cycled British Racing Green fire hose strap, green laser engraved Union Jack glass case back and their iconic “In Case Of Fire Break” lettering .
The substance of the watch is the “Triumph range”. Featuring a 41mm case and a The Sellita SW510 chronograph movement. Again more information can be found at the William Wood website.
The last of our collection come from the relatively newly reinvented brand Duckworth Prestex. Again we are looking at a limited edition, 365 of each colour (blue and salmon), the new watches feature the art deco numerals, previously used on the Bolton range, and a special Small Seconds sub dial at the 4 O’clock position with the year 2023 printed on it.
The 39mm cushion case houses an automatic Miyota 82S5 movement and or priced at a very reasonable £795. You will find all the details at https://duckworthprestex.com.
So i conclusion, the British watch brands all have chosen to take advantage of the opportunity offered by the coronation, they have offered the market something to suit most pockets, if you moved fast enough. Fortunatelyat the time of writing the more economical alternative fromduckworth are still available and given the quantities involve I am confident Fears will find a solution.
After seeing Pinion watches at Salon QP and a couple of Pinion “get togethers” I finally took the bait and ordered my Pinion Pure Bronze, which after I ordering Piers Berry, the founder, suggested I have the watch fitted with a green dial that until then had been mainly used in the gunmetal case. At the time there were very few watches available with bronze case and I was only aware of the fellow British brand Schofield, which I don’t remember being available with a green dial.
It is now 2023, this watch is my regular weekend/holiday watch. It is robust, has 100m water resistance, is a strap monster and has an appearance that improves with age.
Somewhat disappointingly its look is no longer as unique as in 2016. There is hardly a significant watch brand that does not have, or has not recently offered, a bronze model in their range and green appears to be the dial colour of the year. The obvious exception being Rolex. Both Tudor, Oris and now Christopher Ward notably going full bronze offering not only bronze cases but also bronze cases with bronze bracelets, which however much I personally like the material, I find a little too much. Of the major Swiss brands I am very tempted by the bronze Omega Seamaster 300 which nicely combines a retro look with a case that will patina.
However this is blog about British watch brands so what are the alternatives this side of the channel?
Bremont offer their British military approved Broadsword and Argonaut with a bronze cases
On checking the Christopher Ward website I find three of their C65 range are available in bronze, the Dune, even with a bronze bracelet, the Acquataine and Sandhurst. The dive watch stalwart of the CW range, the C60, is also available though only with a blue dial.
As mentioned in my initial paragraph in my mind Schofield are the other original bronze watch producer and an updated version of their Bronze Beater, the B3 is still in the range. You can choose between a “raw” or “patinated” versions.
The patinated version looks great straight out the box, through in my mind one of the attractions of bronze is the development of a unique patina so given a choice I would probably go for the raw version.
Sadly, Pinion the pioneer of the sector, do not have a bronze case in their range, though this might be down to the company now specialising on smaller commissioned runs.
The good news though is that bronze cased watches are still cool and generally attract more attention than their steel equivalents. The even better news is the watches on offer from the British brands are at relatively affordable prices ranging from £985 for the Christopher Ward C60 to £3495 for the Bremont Argonaut. Not a huge amount to be distinctive. All of these watches can be found on their respective websites:
You might remember my review of the Hydrium in which I commented on the collecting opportunity offered by this watch from British based brand Isotope. Well now two more have joined the line-up, the Hydrium Pro Nordblad and the Hydrium Nasa.
Hydrium Pro Nordblad
This is the second watch from Isotope developed as a tribute to the achievements of Johanna Nordblad, a the world-renowned ice diver. LIke the previous “Goutte d’Eau version this watch features a blue second hand. Limited to 100 pieces, it is the first of a series of Hydrium Pro watches, exceeding specifications above ISO 6425, the official divers watch certification . The watch case is made of sandblasted 316L stainless steel. All the crystals, including the bezel, are made of sapphire crystal and the movement is a top-finished and regulated Swiss Landeron. If any of these watches remain unsold they are offered at £900 (ex VAT) on the Isotope website
As well as Hydrium collectors, this second officially NASA approved watch, launched on April 15th, should appeal to the many space fans out there.
Apart from the special NASA nato strap what makes this watch stand out is the polymer-ceramic coating, Cerakota that has been applied to the 316L steel case. This coating replicates the texture of the re-entry capsule’s vitally important heat shield. Then there is the NASA logo above the six o’clock position.
This watch is also available from the Isotope website for £825 (ex VAT) includedin this price is an extra grey quick release FKM strap
This watch is limited to 200 pieces, and available to pre-order through www.isotopewatches.com with expected delivery starting in August 2023. Currently priced at £825 (ex VAT) which includes a second grey quick release FKM strap.
Chat GPT and other similar applications have been much discussed over the last few months. It has been presented as an instrument that replace many human’s jobs. I was wondering how it might perform as a watch blogger. So apologies to my fellow Emsworthians but I choose Zero West for my test. I asked the application to “write a review” – this is the result.
I’m sorry, but as an AI language model, I don’t have personal experiences and emotions to provide a review of a physical product like the Zero West DB-1 watch. However, I can provide you with some information about this timepiece that you may find helpful in making an informed decision.
The Zero West DB-1 watch is a handcrafted watch that features a unique and eye-catching design inspired by the dashboard instruments of classic sports cars. The case is made of stainless steel and measures 42mm in diameter. The dial is made of brushed aluminum and features a retro-style font for the hour markers and hands. The watch is powered by a Swiss-made ETA 2824 automatic movement, which is a reliable and accurate movement that is widely used in high-end watches.
One of the standout features of the Zero West DB-1 watch is the unique way that time is displayed. Instead of using traditional hour and minute hands, the watch has two rotating discs that display the time in a digital format. This gives the watch a modern and futuristic look while still maintaining a classic feel.
The Zero West DB-1 watch is also water-resistant up to 100 meters, making it suitable for swimming and other water activities. The watch comes with a high-quality leather strap that adds to its overall elegance and sophistication.
In summary, the Zero West DB-1 watch is a well-crafted timepiece with a unique and eye-catching design. Its use of a Swiss-made automatic movement and water-resistant construction make it a reliable and practical choice for everyday wear. While I cannot provide a personal review of this watch, based on its features and specifications, it appears to be a solid choice for those looking for a high-quality and distinctive watch.
On the basis of this bloggers have the edge for the moment. Hopefully I will get my hands on example of the watch to do a human review.
Hot on the heels of their collaboration with Garrick, Fears have announce another, this time with Christopher Ward. Again, both companies being founding partners of the Alliance of British Watch and Clock Makers.
This jump-hour watch is limited to 50 pieces and available to purchase by Club members of the Alliance with all profits from sales being donated to the Alliance to support its various initiatives.
Differently to the Garrick watch this one features a bespoke 40.5mm Fears case and uses a JJ01 Christopher Ward movement. The movement being developed in house based on a Sellita SW200.
They are making just 50 of these models. They will only be available to Club members of Alliance on a first-come, first-served basis when it is launched.
The ‘Fears Christopher Ward : Alliance 01’ will be available to Club Members to order on Friday 27 January priced at £3950 (inc. VAT).