Author Archives: Alastair

About Alastair

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

Isotope Hydrium Burnt Tangerine

If you have looked back on my previous holiday posts on Instagram you notice my bronze Pinion Axis features heavily, this was for two reasons, firstly the robustness of the watch and the effect of the sea water on the case.

With the arrival of my holidays this year I risked producing similar posts all over again. Luckily, I had noticed several images of the Isotope Hydrium range from my friend Jose and it occurred to me that they would make an ideal alternative for the beach. I dropped a note Jose and a loaner arrived, a limited edition very visible Hydrium Burnt Tangerine. A perfect summer colour. The perfect beach watch.

First impressions straight out of the box was – gosh this feels weighty. The perfect sensation for a serious dive watch, this is a tough watch. It comes with a super comfortable quick release FKM rubber strap, so nice in fact that I was not at all tempted to swap it out to experiment with alternatives. Usually,the first thing I habitually play with on dive watches is the bezel. The Hydrium has a robust uni-directional sapphire crystal/stainless steel bezel with 120 clicks, a feature that came in very handy for timing my daily swim.

The Landeron 24 automatic movement is almost completely silenced by the case, giving you almost the sensation of having a quartz watch on your wrist. Landeron is not a name that we are all familiar, the 24 automatic is designed as a replacement for the increasingly difficult to source ETA 2824-2. Then when you turn the watch over you find this really nicely decorated solid caseback. Personally, I not a great fan of display backs especially on dive watches, as you can see this one is a worth turning the watch over for.

Solid Caseback

Of course on of the most important design elements of any watch is the dial and this is where this watch distinguishes itself from other dive watches with the now familiar Isoptope details on the two layered dial, in particular the subtle Isoptope lacrime. Over the dial the is a domed sapphire crystal that I personally much prefer to the flat crystals.

Finally, returning to the strap. Isotope have always given particular attention to straps and this one is finished of with a very solid Isotope branded buckle.

Isotope buckle

Technical Specifications

  • Micro-blasted case, 316L stainless steel
  • Case diameter 40mm X 48mm (with lugs)
  • Height 12.9mm (14.9mm with double domed Sapphire Crystal)
  • Hydrium Exclusive Stainless steel screw-down case back 
  • Uni-directional sapphire crystal/Stainless Steel bezel with 120 clicks 
  • Anti-reflective crystal sapphire
  • Screw-down crown at 3 o’clock
  • Isotope “i” hands and indexes with Super-LumiNova®
  • Water-resistance 300m / 30 atm / 1000 ft
  • 22mm Quick-release FKM strap with signed micro-blasted Steel Buckle

Swiss Mechanical Movement

  • Swiss Landeron 24, self-winding
  • Power reserve 40 hours
  • 28 Jewels, 28800A/h
  • Accuracy -12/+12 s/day
  • Decorated + Customised rotor

Cost – £729 (limited to 100 pieces)

The Range

Alongside the Burnt Tangerine Isoptope produced several other versions, the “conventional” Blue Night and two even more individual the Hydrium X “Will Return” and the “The Judge”. Of these only the Judge can be ordered from the website.

Blue Knight
“Will Return”
Judge

So in conclusion I have to say the Hydrium Burnt Tangerine fitted the brief of “beach/summer watch” perfectly. So perfectly I kept putting off sending it back to Jose, until I was prompted. These watches are selling out quickly so jump now if you want one for next summer.

Schofield – Japanese Edition Beater B5

Whilst I was enjoying a well earned rest I received news of this the latest watch from Schofield watches, the Beater B5 Japanese special edition,limited to 29 pieces.

Beater B5 Japanese Edition

Now the overall design and style of the watch will be familiar to anyone with knowledge of Schofield’s previous watches.

This new Japanese B5 is the prettiest Schofield to date. A muted, blossom coloured dial in a specially textured case similar in finish to traditional Suzuki or Shibuichi items. The case back is traditionally made, in sterling silver and glass enamel we see a scene of an old plum tree, inspired by a Fuchū manhole cover. The watch also comes with a little lapel pin in the same design, again in silver, to wear on your jacket. All new Schofields will now come with a specific pin, designed to be a summary of the watch it accompanies. The strap above is Japanese Plum Canvas, a coarse weave with real depth of colour achieved, naturally, by dyeing with persimmon and plum . The lining is indigo calf. The buckle brushed stainless steel.The strap is plum canvas with a stitch to match the dial.

THE CASE

Schofield is known for its complex case shape which has been improved and refined over the last decad and uses a new media finish we known as Middle-tex. The 44.5mm case is stainless steel with a texture that sits between the vapour-blasted finish and the severe Brutalist finish of some rare Beaters. As well as all this detail the watch has the usual for Schofield 200m water resistance.

DIAL

This is the last dial with this familiar topography, hours at cardinal points including a slash-0 at 12, darts between the numbers and a minute track bordering the stepped level and colour change in the dial. Using Super-LumiNova C3 with a bright green emission, most obvious is the luminescent ring around the outer circumference. The handset features Schofield’s “Sign-of-Life” hand found a coun-terpoise only, indicating time is passing but without the need for precision time-telling. The hands are brushed gold and match the gold ring in the middle of the crown.

MOVEMENT

STP 1-11, self-winding mechanical. Hours, minutes and hacking sweep secondsPower reserve 44 hours,Frequency28,800 VPH 4Hz

PRICE

£3,580.00 (inc. UK VAT) with a two year warranty

The watch is available from the Schofield website.

Only one final thought. When I first saw the descrption of this watch I thought it might use a Japanese movement which might also have meant a lower cost. I must ask Giles if they ever considered this.

Pinion Neutron – 38mm

For me Pinion Watches are one of the “original” British watch brands, one of the first of this re-birth of so many British brands, I first met Piers Berry at the Salon QP in 2013. Piers was a pioneer especially with his early use of bronze watch cases. Followers of my Instagram feed will have noticed my personal Pinion Pure Bronze.

Pinion have quietly developed a range of sturdy military inspired watches with a variety of new and NOS movements. All of the watches are immediately identifiable as Pinion through their distinctive desgn elements. Which with the exception of the 39mm Atom all featured a 42mm case.

With the new Neutron Pinion they break this tradition with their smallest case size yet at 38mm. The main feature of the dial is a guilloche pattern, with the outer edge in a circular brushed finish. This is then electroplated to achieve the dial colouring (black, blue, dusty pink). Raised numerals are machined in brass, polished then electroplated in nickel (silver) before being applied by hand to the dial. The batons are in a contrasting radium hue and are printed and applied with SuperLuminova. The hands are diamond-cut brass in a polished finish. The hour and minute hands also highlight a subtle etched groove in a contrasting matt finish running along their centre. The hands are nickel (silver) plated and filled with Superluminova.


The watch uses the super reliable ETA 2824-2 movement, each movement is regulated by Pinion’s watchmaking team in England over 5 days / 5 positions to a minimum of +/- 5 seconds variation a day to ensure it remains accurate.


Then, a really nice personal touch the Neutron features a circular brushed steel case backthat is engraved and numbered. Now that all engraving is undertaken in-house, means that the watch can be personalised by each customer to include a memorable
date, name or phrase at no extra cost.

All three versions ( Black, Blue & Dusty Pink) of the Neutron is available for order at Pinions website for £ 1,200 (inc V.A.T.)

Specifications

MOVEMENT Automatic Swiss made ETA 2824-2.
25 Jewels.
Frequency: 28,800 vibrations per hour.
38-hour power reserve.
Regulated in-house over 5 days / 5
positions to a of +/- 5 to +/- 10 seconds
variation a day
CASE Stainless steel. Brushed finish.
ø38mm (excl. crown) / 11mm height.
Stainless steel crown with Pinion motif.
Solid steel case back, engraved and
numbered.
GLASS Domed sapphire crystal with antireflective
coating (inside only).
DIAL Electroplated with circular brushed finish.
Polished applied numerals.
Central guilloche decoration.
Batons printed with Superluminova®
coating.
HANDS Coated brass hands in polished finish with
contrasting etched groove (hour, minutes)
Filled with Superluminova® (hour,
minutes, seconds).
WATER
RESISTANCE
10 ATM, 100 metres.
STRAPS 20mm leather strap with 18mm Pinion
steel buckle.
20mm Nylon one-piece strap with steel
hardware.

Fears Garrick

Now he has relocated I do not get many opportunities to meet with Nicholas Bowman-Scargill of Fears, so it was a pleasant surprise when he suggested a coffee as he was in town.

As well as a catch-up he wanted to show me his forthcoming new watch. There have been a couple of teasing images recently on Fears social media postings but I was not sure what to expect. So it was a huge surprise when Nicholas opened his now familiar Globe-Trotter watch case.

The Fears Garrick, a collaboration between Fears and fellow founding member of the Alliance of British Watch & Clockmakers, Garrick. David Brailsford of Garrick and Nicholas cooked up this project over a coffee, hence the projects code name “Costa”. The result is a watch that clearly has the DNA of both of the partners. The overal case shape and exposed balance being very Garrick, the dial detailing being very Fears.


The details:

Case

The elegant Fears Garrick’s 42mm case is made and finished in Garrick’s Norfolk. The curved sides of the polished 904L stainless steel case help the slender watch slip easily under a shirt cuff.

DIAL

The watch features an Old English White dial, with a fine matt texture. Deep glossy black printing is combined with seven lines of blood red on the power reserve display at 2 o’clock. These lines represent the moment when the watch’s main spring has wound down. Across from this display at 10 o’clock is the running

The glossy black printing is combined with seven lines of blood red on the power reserve display at 2 o’clock. These lines represent the moment when the watch’s main spring has wound down. Across from this display at 10 o’clock is the running seconds.

Applied by hand to the dial’s surface are the diamond-cut numerals, produced in the bespoke ‘Edwin’ typeface.

HANDS

The Fears Garrick features the distinctive ‘Fears’-shaped hands, which are hand-finished by a watchmaker, Fears is one of only a handful of British watch brands that construct watch hands in-house, in the UK.

MOVEMENT

Visible through the Fears Garrick’s exhibition case back is the exclusive, manual winding Garrick UT-G04 movement. Based on the Garrick UT-G01 this version features a power reserve indicator at 2 o’clock. Visible from the dial side is a free sprung balance e wheel, made from Garrick’s exclusive alloy Sircumet

SHIPPING IN JULY 2023
The Fears Garrick watch involves a considerable amount of hand-making and hand-finishing and as such they are made in very small batches. They are currently selling watches from a batch which will be shipping in July 2023. Clearly more details are avaible at https://www.fearswatches.com/collections/fears-watch-collection/products/garrick

Cost

£19,500 Inc. Vat £16,250 Ex. Vat

Schofield Watch Company – Small Wall Clock

The Schofield Watch Company Picture by Jim Holden

I intended this blog to be about Brtish watch brands so in theory it should be about watches. So when I received a press release from Giles Ellis of the Schofield Watch Company I was a a little perplexed, should I post something. Well I have relented, I like what Schofield do and they are after all a British watch brand.

As the name suggests, it is a small clock, only 16 cms in diameter . The dials are available in three metallic colours and are printed with extreme precision by watch dial makers. With plain and simple numerals, designed for clarity at distance and modelled on old AEG factory clocks, the hands are plain baton style with the only luminescence in the counterpoise of the seconds hand. The movement is a quartz Seiko sweep seconds. The casework deserves special mention. THis clock is a facsimile of Schofield watches. Limited to 29 pieces in each colour Price is £980 including VAT (UK / free shipping) or £817 (US, Canada, Europe ROW + shipping

To order try the link below:

https://schofieldwatchcompany.com/more/

Elegantly Understated

This Christmas 2021 was I suspect for many of you, like ours a fairly subdued event. However for me there was an horological highlight, no not not a new watch, my wife thinks it is too difficult to choose, but a watch book. Bringing my watch book collection now to two.

This year the book that doubled my collection was “Elegantly Underestated – 175 Years of the Fears Watch Company”. This very well presented volume gives the background to the company brought back to life by Nicholas Bowman-Scargill in 2016.

Over my time thinking more about watches I have realised that much of the interest in the hobby is about stories. Only though an interesting story can a watch differentiate itself from an apparantly technically identical, or even superior product. Witness a Tudor Black Bay with an ETA movement being more collectable than the current version with an in-house COSC movement. Collectors like to to tell the story about their watch.

However, I am not accusing Nicholas of publishing this book as a cynical myth making marketing ruse, of all the people I have met in the watch world he is the person with the most passion for his company’s heritage it being is so intertwined with his family’s history. The author of the book Jane Duffus, is also the three times great niece of Edwin Fear the founder of the company.

This book is very much written as a history of the company, not a technical description of all the countless watches the company has produced. It explains the lives the lives of the founders and their successors, giving social context to the times they were working in. The history of Fears is also very much intertwinned with that of Bristol, the home of the company. To my mind this actually makes it more readable, so much so that I finished it in one sitting.

If you order directly you can avoid further enriching Jeff Bezos.

Vertex – AcquaLion Diver

This watch took me a little by surprise, I like to think in pre-pandemic times I would have been a little more on the ball. Well, I was not, so surprise a diving watch from Vertex. On reflection this should not be a surprise as most watch fans would expect every self respecting watch brand to have a diver in their range, with the honorable exception of Fears of course. The difficulty is to produce a watch that can be identified/classified as a dive watch without it being a submariner homage.

M60 AcquaLion – no date

So Vertex offer us all the essentials:

  • 40mm stainless steel case
  • The usual selection of straps, steel, rubber & nylon
  • Sellita SW300-1 Chronometer automatic movement
  • Date or no-date option
  • Ceramic uni-directional bezel
  • 600m rating
  • Meeting ISO 6425 professional dive watch standard
  • Solid caseback

You will all probably now think of Vertex as a British watch company producing modern updates on the their historical military models. With this watch there is also a “back story” it is directly linked to the work of Claude Lyons who founded the firm back in 1916. A decade before establishing Vertex, Lyons borrowed £1,000 from his father-in-law to set-up another dial name called ‘Dreadnought’ which was symbolised by a mythical creature, half lion, half fish. All watches also carry a serial number on the case back and the movement that starts with ‘FN’ “Fear Nothing” being the natural translation of dreadnaught.

The M60 AquaLion – which is available with or without a date display (‘M60 D’ and ‘M60 ND’) – is also equipped with a uni-directional dive bezel made from matte-finished ceramic and featuring knurling based on the sight adjustment mechanism found on the Bren light machine gun introduced at the start of WWII. The Vertex-ness is added through the use of the moulded Super-LumiNova dial markings . In the case of the AquaLion, the Super-LumiNova used is of the latest ‘X1 Grade’ that glows considerably brighter and for up to 1.6 times longer than the standard material, offering unrivalled visibility in low light conditions both in and out of the water.

VERTEX M60 AQUALION – SPECIFICATIONS. Case: Stainless steel, diameter 40mm, thickness 14mm. Case back: Stainless steel, screw-down type with engraved AquaLion trademark. Crown: Screw down type. Bezel: Scratch-resistant matte ceramic with engraved dive scale filled with Super-LumiNova Grade X1. Dial: Matte black with moulded Super-LumiNova X1 Grade hour markers and Super-LumiNova X1 Grade coated hands. Water resistance: 60 Bar/600 Metres ISO Rating: 6425 (international dive watch standard) Movement: Sellita SW300-1 (with or without date). Hours, minutes; hack seconds. Power reserve: 42 hours. Straps/Bracelet: One stainless steel bracelet; one single-strand Zulu strap; one rubber dive strap.

Packaging: Multi-purpose Peli Case ‘Ruck’. Waterproof, buoyant. Price: £2,850 Including UK VAT £2,375 Excluding VAT

I think Don Cochrane has succeeded in presenting us a very clearly “Vertex” diver – well done

For more detail visit – https://vertex-watches.com/collections/m60

Schofield – Treasure

Schofield in my mind are watches that do not go unnoticed, they are large purposeful pieces that generally would not be considered “dress” watches.

The case design and height not making them ideal to slip under a shirt cuff. The case materials add to their almost industrial no nonsense appeal. So I was very surprised when these watches appeared on one of Giles Ellis’s “Six Pips” newletter. These are not the Schofields we are used to.

The Treasure Watch has a stepped black dial and brushed gold handset but two different cases, one fully polished steel, the other is thick gold-plated brass. Gold and silver treasure! The case back shows an X marks the spot, runic script, mountains, rivers and the sky above. Each watch is serialised with the name of a treasure hoard found in the UK. Number 1 is Sutton Hoo, number 2 the Ringlemere Cup and 27 others making a limited edition of 29 watches

Two metal variants, both highly polished, one in stainless steel and the second a heavy gold-plate over a brass body. Using brass for the gold-plated version visually protects the watch. Both cases have matching strap bars and buckles. The gold X on the case back is formed by bonding a gold-plated brass disc (gold coin) behind the wire-eroded aperture in the multi-stepped stainless steel part. One of our most elaborate designs yet. DIAL Schofield favours dials that have a clean layout, the Treasure Watch is no exception, it is open and uncluttered and designed for legibility, it features our slash-zero at 12 o’clock and a stepped dial first seen on the Signalman. We have also included a printed luminescent ring around the outer circumference similar to the original Schofield Blacklamp. Using Super-LumiNova C3 with a green emission. These black dials offer high night-time visibility. The handset features a play on the original Sign-of-Life hand found on some Beater models, here it is a counter poise only, indicating time is passing but without the need for to the second time-telling. Here Schofield use the same luminescent compound but with a blue emission making things a little more interesting. The hands are brushed gold and match the gold ring in the middle of the crown. Gold and silver treasure through-out. INSIDE The Treasure Watch is powered with a fully gold-plated Automatic ETA 2824, the movement holder is an overbuilt gold anodised aluminium ring.

Priced at £3480 for either the gold or silver version. These watches are certainly not for shy and retiring people.

For more details visit https://schofieldwatchcompany.com/product/gold-treasure-watch/

Bremont – New Movement

Last Wednesday week’s I was very disappointed, Bremont were having a major event at the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich, 850 metres away from my house and I didn’t get an invite. This was especially disapppointing because as well as the launch of Bremont’s latest limited edition watch, the Longtitude, it was the announcement of a new Bremont proprietary movement. Given all the fuss about “in-house, not in-house”, especially at Bremont this is potentially an important moment in the revival of the British watch industry.

The Longtitude

The Limited Edition Bremont Longitude, available in steel, white or rose gold, houses the brand’s first manufactured movement the new ENG300 movement.

Bremont has acquired the full rights to manufacture and
re-engineer the celebrated K1 calibre from the Swiss firm “THE+” and launches the ENG300 movement series. The machining base components and assembly will all be carried out in the new Bremont Manufacturing & Technology Centre “The Wing” based in Henley-on-Thames. Bremont has re-engineered 80% of the base calibre, including making a number of design improvements, in order to build a proprietary movement to their unique specification. After their contraversial claim in 2014, when they claimed total proprietorship over a movement that proved to have been created by La Joux-Perret this time Bremont have gone to great lengths to justify their defintition as “proprietary”. I have read that they have upgraded 80 percent of the movement in-house and that they are manufacturing 55 percent of the movement by weight in Henley (five parts in all – the base plate and four bridges). “By weight” seems an unusal measure, which you might gain further insight to by listening to the Scottish Watches podcast on the subjet. It will be very intersting to see how this is all taken by the watch world. The movement is rated to “Chronometer” standard, but not COSC certified, as this is reserved for Swiss made movements.

As you will see from the images above the Longditude does have the “dressy” look of previous special editions like the Victory or Wright Flyer. As with these earlier watches and also incorporates some material of “historical” interest, in this case original brass from the historic Flamsteed Meridian Line at the Royal Observatory Greenwich on the outer edge of the movement.

The other neat feature is the small power reserve indicator that mimics the Time Ball on the top of the Royal Observatory. The Time Ball was first used in 1833 and still operates today. Normally each day, at 12.55pm, the time ball rises half way up its mast. At 12.58pm it rises all the way to the top. At 1pm exactly, the ball falls.

You can find full details of the watches on Bremont’s website . The real story here though is the movement. I look forward to seeing how it develops. Let’s hope this really is the beginning of volume production of watch movements in Britain