Fears Watches are to partner with the UK Government’s GREAT Britain campaign, which highlights the best the country has to offer the world. It’s an honour for Fears to have its 174-year heritage and British credentials recognised during the company’s fourth year of trading since its re-launch in 2016.
The announcement comes as Fears concludes production of its final Quartz powered watch at the end of February 2020. Since the launch of the mechanical Brunswick in 2017, Fears has been slowly moving towards an all mechanical watch line up. Once the remaining stock of quartz watches are sold all Fears watches will be powered by mechanical movements and, like the Brunswick, will be hand built in the UK. Fears builds its watches in the East Anglian city of Norwich using bespoke components made in Germany (cases & dials), Switzerland (movements & winding crowns), UK (hands and strap leather), Hong Kong (sapphire crystals) and Belgium (strap
Commenting on the announcement of Fears partnering with the GREAT Britain campaign and concluding Quartz production, Nicholas Bowman-Scargill, (4th) Managing Director of the Fears Watch Company says, “It’s an honour to have Fears’ extensive heritage recognised by the UK Government’s GREAT Britain campaign. The GREAT Britain campaign does outstanding work in highlighting and promoting British manufacturing and highlighting the many things that make Britain great today. Fears has a unique history in the British watch industry. Having traded for over 130 years from the middle of the 19th Century until 1976, Fears used to export to 95 countries around the world, something I hope we will achieve again. This recognition comes at a time when we’ve ended production of the Quartz watches that re-launched Fears in 2016 and now focus solely on hand building mechanical watches here the UK. The first three years of trading since the relaunch have been beyond all expectations with a lot planned for the coming year.”
on Fears becoming a partner of GREAT, Jack Karet, Chief Partnerships
Officer of the GREAT Britain campaign says, “The GREAT Britain campaign
shines a light on the very best of what our
whole nation has to offer to inspire the world to visit, do business,
invest and study in the UK. Partnership is at the heart of this, and we
are proud to celebrate our iconic heritage brands, such a Fears, across
I cannot remember when I first started seeing images for the Isotope Goutte d’Eau on Instagram; I do remember despite the great design and superb images dismissing them as being a French kickstarter brand therefore not on my radar.
My impressiion dd turn out to be slightly correct the brand was originally on Kickstarter, however the only link to France was the name of this particular model.The brand is actually the creation of Jose Miranda a Portuguese based in the UK. Having established the brand should definately be on my radar I arranged to meet Jose for a couple of beers. As with so many people in the British watch industry Jose is a super enthusiast, one of those people you can chat to really easily about watches and in particular his watches, they are after all his labour of love.
During our chat Jose let me handle some early examples of the Guotte d’Eau and I was impressed straight away, especially with the remarkably confortable metal bracelet. I left the evening with a promise of the opportunity to review the watches when more example became avalable.
With the New Year a package arrives, not one watch to review but two, both versions of the Goutte d’Eau,the Orange and the Nordblad. The Nordblad with the Sellita movement and solid caseback, the Orange with the Seiko movement and display back. Both watches were on steel bracelets but with them came an alternative rubber strap. The first impression when picking up the watches on their bracelets is weight, these would be useful to divers joked my colleague in the office. I put the watches away until I had a moment to to fit the straps properly. As the cases of both watches are identical I decided to mount the Orange on the rubber strap to enable a comparison.
Once I had managed to size the steel bracelet on the Nordblad and mount the rubber on the Orange I decided the Nordblad should be my “workday” wear leaving the rubber dive strap for the weekends.
As the Nordblad got the most wrist time I will cover this version first. This ia a special edition designed to endure the hardest Finnish winter and to dive under the ice with the Ice Freediving World Champion, Johanna Nordblad. I have put the video of her exploits above.
Brushed case, 316L stainless steel
Case diameter 40mm X 44mm (with lugs)
Stainless steel screw-down case back (Nordblad)
Security inner bezel
Anti-reflective crystal sapphire
One crown with 4 gaskets at 2 o’clock for the inner bezel and one screw-down crown at 4 o’clock to adjust the time
Date window at 4 o’clock
Hands, bezel and sandwich dial with Super-LumiNova® BGW9
22 mm brushed Isotope Tread Bracelet and extension clasp in 316L stainless steel
So, as I mentioned earlier the first impression of this watch is weight. This weight disappears when the watch is on the wrist the sensation for my fairly normal 7 1/2 inch wrist was one of comfort. Not only is the bracelet very comfortable the case design allows the watch to sit very well. This is probably due to the short lugs. For their part the short lugs do result in a snug fit should you want to change straps. Another contributing factor is the twin crown case design, with the upper crown operating the inner rotating bezel, there is no central crown that can dig into your wrist. This bezel is a neat design feature seen on several iconic watches such as the Longines Legend Diver, I personally find the traditional rotating bezel more convenient for timing baked potatoes, but this design does look really nice.
It is dfficult to decide which is the feature that makes these watches so interesting. The watch head it self has its distinctive shape then there is the sandwich dial and the subtle cut out tear drop.Then finally in the case of the Nordblad the blue details, the second hand and countdown indices 0 to 15. Lots going on but in no way overdone.
Then you turn the watch over to find the engraved solid caseback, with the tribute to Johanna Nordblad . Which is as you can see I had a little difficulty photographing.
The Nordblad I had on review was the Sellita powered date edition. It is also available as a “no date” or with the Seiko movement, both date and none. The “Swiss” version on the website for £469, the “Japanese” for an even more reasonable £349.
Now I would like to turn to the”Orange”which as I have already mentoned I straight away on the extra rubber strap. On this strap you instantly notice a difference in weight, which intrigued me so much I had to compare both watches on over kitchen scales. The result of this “scientific” check was 90 grammes on the rubber strap and with the steel almost double that at 175 grammes. Clearly the steel bracelet makes a significant contribution..
The key difference between these two watches is the movement. Both using relaible “work horses”, in the case of this example of the “Orange” it was fitted with the Seiko NH-35A. I expected the automatic rotor in this movement to be noisier than the Sellita but on the wrist you hardly hear it. This then brings me to the display back, Personally I prefer solid case backs especially when the movement being showcased is,sticking to equine terms, a “work horse” rather than a “show pony”.
Then finally there is the most obvious difference, the colour used on the dial and second hand. In this case orange.
Automatic, self-winding Japanese caliber Seiko NH35a
Power reserve 41 hours
Accuracy -20/+40 s/day
Of course I need to make a special mention of the distinctive steel bracelet. When I first tried the watch over a beer i was immediately strick by how comfortable it was. As you would expect on a diver’s watch this bracelet is fitted with a useful extension clasp. A non-extending clasp might make the bracelet a little less hefty and let the clasp lie a little flusher.
So conclusions- very impressive.Distinctive and well made, at a very reasonable price. My personal choice of varient would be no date, solid caseback with Sellita movement. Maybe on the NATO strap which unfortunately only tried in the pub.