All posts by Alastair

A British watch enthusiast living in Royal Greenwich, England. Hence, the name of the blog, "grinidgetime" the local pronunciation.

Fears Redcliff Streamline

Having not run into NicholasBowman-Scargill for a month or so this latest watch from Fears took me a little by surprise, then I was not able to write this entry immediately as I was travelling. Fortunately, I was then able to organise a quick coffee with Nicholas to see the watch in the metal.

As you can see the watch is a very nice modern watch with some “vintage” style influences which like the dial finish and the font used for the numbers. And hurrah ! There is no faux patina, which personally I am not a fan of. The vintage impression quickly disappears when you put the watch on, as the first thing I noticed was the flat crystal, instantly giving a more modern feel. Then there is the 38mm case size, it is the size for just about anyone. Finally, the most significant difference from the past, though not of modern Fears, being the Ronda quartz movement, which is very much in keeping with the Fears philosophy at their re-launch of a high quality time piece at an affordable price.

This limited edition addition to the Redcliff family is to celebrate the 1,000th day since the company was re-established. The Fears Redcliff “Streamline”, directly influenced by their archive and is linked to a previous milestone – the centenary in 1946.



The style of the new watch is inspired by a popular model from the 1946 Fears centenary range called the “Streamline”. The new Redcliff “Streamline” features a galvanised dial similar to its name sake with an antique silver colour called ‘Forties Silver’. The surface of the German made dial is vertically grained with gilt printed numerals and black surrounds, just like the original.

Each Redcliff “Streamline” watch is hand built in the UK using a slim, elegant case that’s made in Switzerland before being finished in the UK. The slim case’s sides are brushed with a polished bezel sitting on top securing a flat sapphire glass featuring anti-reflective.

Commenting on the launch of the new Redcliff “Streamline”, (4th) Managing Director Nicholas Bowman-Scargill says, “It’s incredible to think it’s been 1,000 days since I welcomed people onto the Fears stand at SalonQP in 2016. Though Fears is one of Britain’s oldest watch companies, having been founded in 1846, I believe it’s important to mark this milestone in the company’s re-establishment. From the beginning with a single Redcliff watch it’s been an incredible two and a half years steering the re-establishment of Fears and growing the company to where it is today. I’m pleased to mark this occasion in our 173-year history with the launch of the Redcliff “Streamline” which is directly influenced by our Archive and is linked to a previous milestone – the centenary in 1946.” 

The Redcliff “Streamline” is limited to 100 pieces and will retail for £483, the same amount of the originals’ £11.2s.6d – simply adjusted for 73 years of inflation.

From now on I will be keeping closer tabs on Nicholas, he has hinted there is more to come from Fears in the not to distant future – watch this space.

Rotherham 1750

I am not sure if it just me but I am finding it pretty hard to keep track of the number of “British” brands that are appearing on the scene. The latest I have just spotted on Instagram is Rotherham 1750.

Rotherham Vale

The watch they are offering is the Vale in the photo above. As you can see the design is very classic, based on historical pocket watches, below.

Historical inspiration

The Vale uses a Unitas 6498 manual pocket watch movement which is dis-assembled and rebuilt using a number of bespoke parts in Coventry.

The website suggests the 45mm 316L steel case is made in Britain as are the blued hands and the crown. The enamelled dial is made from silver.

So the company looks like they have got their historical “British-ness” covered. The watch certainly has the traditional look that will appeal to a certain segment of the market. This combined with the lovely Unitas movement should help the quality feel. Of course this is all guessing on my part, I have not actual seen the physical watch.

My worry is that there are already more established brands offering a blend of quality British-ness and others that offer quirkier British-ness.I wonder if there is space in the market segment that this watch appears to be aimed at, especially as if I read correctly the watch will be offered at £7200.

Second Newmark ?

Last year the brand Newmark was re-launched very honestly on Kickstarter . The first watch being the 6BB military chronograph and the HS, a white dialled variant. Both watches being pretty well received by enthusiasts.

Now after what seems a remarkably short period of time they have announced a second watch the 71 sports watch, again based on an historical model from the brand. Like the previous watch this model will be made available via a Kickstarter offer launching on June 18th at an initial price of £299, go tohttp://newmark71.newmarkwatchcompany.com/

Timor – relaunch

Just recently news of another brand about relaunch cropped up on my instagram feed. This time it is the turn of the Swiss brand Timor. As a Swiss brand this news would not normally be of interest to this blog but I have again made an exception, for two reasons firstly because the watch they want to relaunch is the Timor WWW of “Dirty Dozen” fame and secondly because the team behind this project appear to be Brits.

This is an image of how the watch might look taken from a recent watch forum posting. Apparantly they are looking at movements that would place the subdial closer to its original position. They think the closest would be a Sellita SW216-1. It is a hand-wound movement with a seconds subdial With this movement, the case size could be 36.5mm.

I have been half looking for more news for the last week. So far nothing. I will keep you updated.

Mr Jones

When I first saw watches from London based Mr Jones brand I wrongly dismissed them as novelty quartz watches. I have recently re-evaluated this view, firstly I have come more to terms with quartz watches, Mr Jones also offer mechanical watches and finally I came across this interview.

I now must drop into their office one day to find out for myself what this other Mr Jones. I do actually pass by twice a day

Precista PRS18-Q

I have had a quartz Citizen dive watch since the late eighties, to its credit it has done great service as an indestructible beach watch, that is until the year before last when it started to leak after I changed the battery. As a quartz watch I realised I did not love it, but I did have a grudging respect for its reliability and durability, I now miss its infallibility.

Since taking more interest in the world of watches I have clearly kept these opinion at the back of my mind, a reluctance to accept quartz watches. However after several reflective discussions with other members of the watch community I am now coming around, these watches are accurate and reliable which is all that many people look for in their watches.

One group of users for whom these attributes are important are the military. It probably has not escaped your notice that the British military are now longer issuing Rolexes, Omegas and other brands that now fall into the “luxury” category to their personnel. In particular the Royal Navy no longer gives out the super collectable Rolex Milisubs to their divers. Sometime in the eighties they changed to different British based suppliers in particular the Cabot Watch Company and Precista, CWC from what I understand being the largest supplier, I have not yet got to the bottom of who did what in which year. As well as being from different suppliers these watches also moved toward the use of quartz movements. Both CWC and Precista (Timefactors) now offer various versions of these watches on their websites.

This vague interest inevitably leads to e-bay browsing, which lead to the inevitable purchase of a Precista PRS18-Q, thinking, incorrectly, they were no longer available. One piece of advice, if you live in the UK, buying stuff from Australia can prove to be considerably more expensive than the purchase price, as there is VAT to pay and the consequent Royal Mail handling charge. You live and learn.

Anyway, the watch eventually arrives, my particular watch is a PRS18-Q from 2013. The first impressions are very positive, the two piece rubber strap being very comfortable, though the brushed steel finish and the height making the not really a formal “office” watch. My teenage son commenting that it looked like a “toy watch”, a comment I ignored. Despite not being an office watch I made the watch my “watch for the week” as I would for one of my usual reviews and of course immediately changed the strap to a grey nato, which seemed to be the most appropriate. I then hit on the optimal strap/Precista combination, a black MN strap from Erika’s Originals or as in the picture above the green version. Though given the current political climate maybe this is not the right time to mix up equipment of the Royal and French navies.

Wearing the watch for a week I rediscovered the utility of an “indestructible” dive watch. The first advantage being the ability to wear it on my cycle commute without fear of the constant vibration of London’s uneven streets damaging the mechanism. I could also time myself using the uni-directional bezel. Then the lume ! I have never had a watch with such a bright glow.

As I mentioned earlier I have discovered my watch is from 2013, so is a slightly different specification from the current PRS18-Q that now uses the Ronda 715Li quartz movement that gives a ten year battery life which still leaves me another four years before I would have to change it.

These are the other key specifications:

Case

  • 316L stainless steel, bead blasted
  • Diameter Bezel 39mm, 43.5mm across including crown
  • Lug to lug height 47.5mm
  • Thickness 12.5mm
  • Lug spacing 20mm
  • Anti-magnetic 4800 A/m
  • WR 300 meters, double Viton ‘O’ ring seals on case back
  • 80 grammes without strap
  • Screw down crown, 120 click unidirectional bezel

Dial & Hands

  • Plain skeleton hands, luminous filled
  • Luminous: SuperLuminova C3
  • Semi-matte black
  • Hour markers & bezel triangle Super Luminova C3
  • 3mm thick sapphire, anti-reflective coating underside

So in conclusion, if you are looking for a tough reliable watch with an interesting back story this Precista is definitely worth considering, especially when you consider the current COSC version is on sale at a very reasonable £245. These are I assume these are attributes requested by the Royal Navy. On a final note I wrote to an old college friend who until recently been a Royal Navy diver to enquire about his watch experience/memories. He told me neither he or one of his ex-colleagues could remember their service watches, he had bought his own Tag Heuer… maybe watch people get a little to concerned about what is on our wrist.

Oster Watches – Podcast

In the absence of review watches I recently dedicated a little time to watch podcasts. Many of these tend to be american which despite often promising interesting content end up irritating me, so it was pleasantly surprised when I came across an interview with Mike Pearson, who recently returned to Bremont in the US.

https://osterjewelers.libsyn.com/keeping-time-s-3-e-02-michael-pearson-the-return-to-bremont

The podcast in question is “Keeping Time” by Oster Watches, an independent jeweller from Denver, Colorado. I briefly met Mike at the first Bremont Townhouse event and enjoyed a short chat about the merits of bronze watches, so I understood he is an enthusiastic talker. During the podcast he gives a little of the insider’s view of Bremont and the enthusiasm of the founders Nick and Giles.

I really enjoyed the chatty style of this interview and it helped counter some of my Bremont cynicism.

ISO 3159 – Kew A

You might have noticed that Bremont’s latest trio of watches developed together with Her Majesty’s Armed Forces, The Broadsword, Arrow and Argonaut are chronometers, certified to ISO 3159 standard, not C.O.S.C. . Which I found very refreshing.

To my mind this has been a subtle way for the Swiss to maintain the perception of the superiority of their watch industry. Several British brands using Swiss movements are highlighting this certification, which I have always thought detracts a little from their British-ness, not in a negative way only in the way that we acknowledge the Swiss as the watch “authority”. 

The term “chronometer” means that a watch has been certified to have a certain accuracy per day and is tested in a few different positions at a few different temperatures. While individual corporate and national chronometry certifications differ in details, the ISO 3159 is the baseline recognized by the 163 international members of the Geneva-based International Organization for Standardization. ISO 3159:2009, the latest version, last was reviewed in 2015, and is described as follows:

Chart from govbergwatches.com

The C.O.S.C. standard as you might have suspected is slightly more rigorous. Current standards for the COSC certificate entail passing the above evaluations while deviating by no more than -4/+6 seconds per 24 hours; achieving a mean variation in rates of two seconds; a maximum variation in rates not exceeding five seconds, a greatest variation (i.e. greatest individual positional deviation from the mean) in rates not exceeding 10 seconds, and thermally-induced deviation not to exceed +/-(.6) seconds. Additional conditions apply, but these are the principle guiding measures that underpin COSC certification.

Historically though there was a more rigorous standard, and it was from Britain., Kew “A” Certification. Watches tested at the Kew Observatory were given more strenuous testing and held to a higher standard than at the others as the Kew Observatory (a subsidiary of the Greenwich Observatory) was responsible for certifying marine chronometers before they were issued to the Royal Navy. While a standard Swiss chronometer test would last 15 days, the Kew test lasted 44 days. Any watch certified as an “A” chronometer from the Kew Observatory was known to be extremely accurate and robust in all positions in a wide range of temperatures.

So well done Bremont for not falling back on C.O.S.C. But, how cool would a British watch with Kew “A” certification be ?

Bremont Townhouse

The “big” horological event in London last week was probably the Bremont Townhouse; during which Bremont present their range, especially the new models to the public. This event, their third I think, has taken the place of a very expensive presence at BaselWorld.

This years event took place in a lovely Georgian building in Clerkenwell. The watches central to this year’s event was the three new military models. Bremont has always made much of their military connections but the three new watches are particular as they are the first presented as a collaboration between Bremont and the three arms of the British Armed Forces.

The core of the collaboration between Bremont and the military was the signing of an Armed Forces Covenant. The signing took place at Bremont’s Headquarters in Henley-on-Thames and is the first time an Armed Forces Covenant has been signed by any watch brand. Air Commodore John Wariner, Air Officer A6/A6 Force Commander based at High Wycombe signed on behalf of Defence to signify the start of a mutual relationship in support of Defence which will be further developed over time.

The collection ids made up of three watches, one for each service. The obviously “military” being the Broadsword  (£2595) the “army” watch.

Bremont Broadsword

This watch is styled after the famous “Dirty Dozen” military watches of World War Two, which houses the chronometer rated BE-95-2AV automatic  movement inside its two-piece 40mm hardened steel case as well as a sub-seconds hand at 6 o’clock. Multiple layers of luminous paint on the hands and dial complete the original specification for the British Army.

The “air force” watch is the Arrow.

Bremont Arrow

The Bremont Arrow  ( £3595) is a 42mm cased mono-pusher chronograph. The pusher at 2 o’clock on the two-piece hardened steel case will start, stop and reset the stopwatch on the chronometer rated BE-51AE automatic movement. The Arrow  is aimed at the airman with its chronograph functionality, a necessity for any timed mission. The sub-dial at 9 o’clock is a running seconds, and the chronograph has elapsed minutes on the 3 o’clock counter.

Bremont Argonaut

Finally, the model for the navy is the  Argonaut (£ 2795 ), a name inspired by Greek mythology and synonymous with Navy history having appeared on Commissioned ships for nearly 250 years. This e 42mm hardened steel-cased military dive watch, houses a three-handed chronometer rated BE-92AV automatic movement. The internal rotating bezel is operated by a crown at 4 o’clock.

Each of these watches feature a solid caseback featuring Her Majesty’s Armed Forces Heraldic Badges.

Bremont HMAF Caseback
One design element strangely missing from these watches is the British MOD arrow sign, this being explained by the fact these watches are not issue watches but developed together with the armed forces. One other feature the watches in this collection miss, that has been integral to most Bremont until now, is the “Trip-Tik”; case construction, this was apparently to keep the cost reasonable.
Personally, I found these watches a little disappointing, especially that they have been produced to a price point. I would have liked something developed with the military to show a little of that over-engineering that military watches are known for. However, I applaud the English brothers for wanting to give something back to the world to which they owe much of their products marketing and design.

Back again….

Well first of all for those of you that care I apologise for not posting for over a month. Unfortunately real life has been in the way, nothing serious just “admin”.

However whilst I have been away the world of British watches has not stood still, there is an increasing stream of interesting content to read, watch or listen to. In particular watch podcasts are appearing with increasing regularity.

One person that has already been the subject of a very listenable Time4apint podcast is Nicholas Bowman-Scargill of Fears. The latest Fears newsletter flagged another interview this time by the gentlemen of the  Wrist Time podcast.

https://player.fm/series/wrist-time/nicholas-bowman-scargill-of-fears-watch-company

This is really worth a listen, Nicholas’s passion and enthusiasm really comes through, also that  of interviewers.  Be careful though, his sentiments are contagious, so you might finish the podcast with a strong need to buy one of his Brunswick watches.