All posts by Alastair

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

New Fears Elegance

Like many of you, one of the things I am missing during these current social restrictions is a catch-up chat over a couple of watches.  One person I have particularly missed is Nicholas Bowman- Scargill of Fears Watches. Nicholas was one of one of my first meeting with any brand and we have kept in touch ever since.

You can imagine therefore how pleased I was to get a message from Nicholas asking if I would like to see some new watches. Of course, I would, is this a sign life might eventually return to something resembling that we had enjoyed only a few months before?

Before meeting I tried to think what the Nicholas might have up his sleeves this time. He has always excluded a diver. He has stopped offering the quartz Redcliff range. So, it had to be a development of the Brunswick. Maybe a chronograph… a different case material.

I clearly, I do not think in the same way as Nicholas. After keeping me in suspense for a good ten minutes he finally revealed these two new variants of the much-appreciated Brunswick. One steel cased with a Salmon dial and a second version of last year’s gold plated Midas with a silver dial. As well as offering more choice to Brunswick clients these watches represent an evolution of the design details of the range.

Both variants feature the new ‘Edwin’ numerals—specially designed for Fears by a horological typographer, Lee Yuen-Rapati. Named after the founder of the company. Lee spent time in the Fears archive, studying all the different typefaces that Fears has used throughout its history, he created a new typeface that is modern, yet influenced by them. The result is a very elegant, classic set of numerals, with some vintage flourishes. Each applied numeral has been treated like a jewel: after being cut out with a CNC machine, to a height of 0.5 mm, they are diamond polished and sand-blasted to create a perfectly smooth and matte finish. Each numeral has then been coated in anthracite, lending a subtle, warm and grey finish, which complements the coppery, pink tones of the dial surface. Finally, each one is applied by hand to the dial, affixed by tiny rivets. The Fears branding is slightly smaller and the model name Brunswick has disappeared, finally the word “England” appears for the first time below the sub-dial acknowledging not only the parts of the watch which are made in the country, but also the fact that every watch is hand built in England.

The new Midas also offers a solid case back. Personally, I have never been a huge fan of display backs and I love the opportunity that a solid case back offers for personalisation or for a simple dedication in the style of retirement watches. The Midas also comes fitted with a new lovely dark brown alcantara lined leather strap, the colour I am hoping Nicholas will continue to call “Otto”.

Both these watches both manage to offer even more elegance to the already elegant Brunswick range. Maybe next time Nicholas will surprise me with an elegant  diver’s chronograph.

The Fears Brunswick Salmon retails for £3,150 inc. VAT and is available from 25th of September. More information can be found at www.fearswatches.com/brunswicksalmon. The new Brunswick Midas retails for £4,250 inc. VAT and is available to purchase today with delivery commencing 30th October. More information can be found online at www.fearswatches.com/brunswickmidas.

Then if you would like to hear more from Nicholas about these watches why not have a listen to this recent Scottish Watches podcast

http://www.scottishwatches.co.uk/2020/09/28/scottish-watches-podcast-183-catching-up-with-nick-from-fears-watches/

Christopher Ward – again

Is it me or are the watches getting more impressive? A few years ago I had he company in the category of “worthy” offering good value, but fairly anonymous watches online.

Well the last couple of releases have really made me start to think again. The latest to be released is this C65 Super Compressor.

The twin crown style might remind you of the Longines Legend Diver or indeed the Farer Aqua Compressor but they are very distinctive.

Christopher Ward claim this watch is the first genuine super compressor diving watch in 50 years. With every metre you descend, its ingenious mechanism increases water-resistance.

There are other compressor watches available, I suspect the difference here must be the word “super”. Reverse-engineered by the team in Switzerland, this is a fully functioning super compressor with the ’60s looks to match. Thanks to improvements in watch construction, it is the first one with an ‘exhibition’ caseback, through which you can see the ultra-thin compression spring. At 300 microns thick, the spring, which enables the compressor to work, is just four times the width of a human hair. Look again, and you will also spot the ‘diving-bell’ mark, the logo Ervin Piquerez used to signify authenticity..

Other than being a “Super Compressor” the details of the watch are:

  • 41mm
  • Case MaterialStainless steel
  • Case ColourSteel
  • Height13.05mm
  • Lug-to-Lug47.12mm
  • Case Weight72g
  • Weight inc. Bracelet166g
  • Water Resistance15 ATM (150m)
  • MovementSellita SW200-1
  • Power Reserve38 hours
  • No of Jewels26
  • Complication Type3 hands
  • Vibrations28,800 p/hr (4Hz)

Overall an impressive looking watch available with a blue or black dial and a choice of four straps, steel, tropical or one of two leather for a reasonable price,£1000. I am pleased the logo has moved to the more conventional position just below the 12 indices.

I hope the opportunity come along to see one of these watches in the metal. In the meantime if I have wetted you appetite you can find out more at

https://www.christopherward.com/retro-dive/c65-super-compressor/C65-41ASC1-S0WB0-B0.html

Bronze Vertex!!

You will be aware that I am a fan of Vertex watches you will have also probably understood that I am also a fan of bronze watches….. and then this shows up !!!

The new watch is a limited edition of 150 pieces to mark the 75th anniversary of the final end of the Second World War with the surrender of Japan.

This edition follows the familiar design we have seen previously first with the M100 and then the M100B that being:

  • an 11mm high 40mm case
  • ETA 7001 manual wind movement
  • 100m water resistance
  • Black matt dial with SLN 7501C arabic numbers.
  • £2700

The difference being the case made from CuSn8 bronze. You will discover should you listen to the excellent interview with Vertex’s Don Cochrane o the Scottish Watches podcast that this is the same grade of bronze as used on for the bronze Tudor Black Bay. Below is a link to the podcast.

If you would like to buy one of these special watches visit :

https://vertex-watches.com/

Are Pocket Watches Practical ?

I had disappeared down one of those internet rabbit holes when I came across an article on an american website entitled “Here’s why your pants have a teeny tiny pocket that’s too small to use”. As a regular wearer of jeans, I had often pondered the answer to this question. I had in the past seen this pocket being referred to a the “fob pocket” but not thought any more about it.

The article explains that the little pocket was originally intended as somewhere to keep your pocket or “fob” watch. They originally appeared on Levis working overalls in the 1890’s when of course pocket watches were common.

During the current health crisis, I am like many of you working from home. I use a pocket watch as desk clock on my limited workspace. So, I thought why not use the watch as it was intended, in a pocket, maybe then I could get to use my wife’s grandfather’s gold Patek. Now before reading the article I had considered pocket watches required the wearing of a waistcoat, a fashion I am still not following despite the attempts of Gareth Southgate. I am however a regular wearer of “five pocket jeans”.  Bingo, I am almost ready to experiment.

My pocket watch is one of the “found in a draw” objects from my Mother’s home. It is a Leonidas GSTP with a government arrow on the back. As with most families we had many family members who did some form of military service in the twentieth century so I am not sure of the origins of this particular piece; I like to think of it as having been my paternal grandfather’s,  he spent the Second World War in the Royal Naval dockyard at Portsmouth, but I not completely convinced,

The watch has passed several decades unused in it’s draw. I took it home and wound it up, as I have come to expect from these less sophisticated vintage items – it ran. Not only does it run, it actually keeps pretty good time. It did rattle a little but all I had to do was prise off the back of the case and tighten up two little screws. Almost set for the experiment but no pocket watch is really practical without a watch chain. Without the chain it difficult to get the watch out of the “teeny tiny” pocket. In two days the famous purveyors of horological goodies, Amazon, supplied me with something appropriate.

So, is a pocket watch viable daily beater after all many millennials use rely on the modern-day equivalent – their mobile phone. An alternative title for this article might therefore be “Can I use a pocket watch instead of my phone?”.

After my couple of days trial, I have reached an interim conclusion that I your daily routine consists of sitting at a desk, a pocket watch does work pretty well as a desk clock. But once you move away, for whatever reason, you do need to remember to take the watch with you. If you try the other option of keeping the watch in the “teeny tiny pocket” it is not super easy to pull out ever time you need to see the time. If, however, you are on your feet most of the time consulting the watch in the little pocket represents less of a challenge.

After posting some images of the watch on Instagram on possible block to regular use of this pocket watch was pointed out by Alexandre Meerson, possible radioactivity of the hands. Making keeping the watch in the little pocket very close to your groin feel less inviting…. Oh well when I get used to using pocket watches I will just have to use the Patek 😊

The Greenwich Time Lady

A couple of weeks ago a thoughful family member passed onto me one of those glossy watch supplements that many magazines publish. As I thumbed through it I did not expect to find anything particularily interesting. To my surprise I came across a review of a book titled ” Ruth Belville – the Greenwich Time Lady” by David Rooney.

Already I was intrigued by the title, as it is very similar to Grinidgetime. Apart from this it promised to add a little more local knowledge to me as a Greenwich resident interested in time. As the title suggestes the book tells the story of Ruth Belville and her family and how they brought the correct time to businesses in London for over over three generations.

For anyone with similar interests it is a fascinating read. On my travels around the town I have found myself looking at places where the family had lived. Even without the local interest the book gives a fascinating insight into the importance of time in the 19th and early 20th centuries and key role of the Royal Observatory in Greenwich.

The book is also a veritable goldmine of interesting horological companies, great inspiration for anyone wondering what to call the latest kickstarter brand.

One slight disappointment for me was that the maps used on the inside and back covers do not actually cover Greenwich Park and as a consequence the Royal Observatory.

William Wood

Again I have to have been a little sceptical of this brand when they first popped up on Instagram, now with the launch of their second watch I have to admit that I was possibly a little quick to judge. The brand like many others just had to get itself of the ground.

The first watch the Chivalrous collection, as you can see above, was a fairly generic looking quartz powered two hander. One feature I did like, as a fan of solid casebacks, was the solid caseback incorporating a brass coin made from a melted down 1923 firefighter’s helmet.

The story behind the watch is quiet interesting, the company’s founder’s, Jonny Garrett, grandfather was William Wood a firefighter. The company, as many others, was launched after a Kickstarter campaign. They have susequently won the Esquire Self-Made Entrepreneur of the Year 2018. They aspire to becoming a British luxury brand that uses recycled firefighting material in a sustainable, cool and chivalrous way.

Their next step towards acheiving this goal is their second watch, the Valiant, an different take on a classic divers watch again using recycled firefighting materials.

In this case the strap is made from recycled fire hoses. For those that might not be keen on a red strap there is also a military version using ex-military fire service green hoses.

Apart from the straps and the firefighter’s helmet logo on the dial the watches follow the classic format.

Technical Specifications:

  • Swiss ETA 2824 or Japanese NH35 Automatic movement
  • Case diameter 41mm
  • Case thickness 16mm
  • Lug width 20mm
  • Water Resistant 100 metres / 10 ATM
  • 316L Stainless Steel case and metal band
  • Double domed sapphire crystal glass with anti-reflective coating and blue tint
  • Rotating bezel with Super-LumiNova 12 dot
  • Super-LumiNova hands, indices and bezel 12 dot
  • Domed dial with date window and sweeping second hand
  • Crown inset made from original 1920’s British brass firefighters helmet

The watches are reasonably priced at £695 for the NH35 version or £995 for the ETA.

I am sure here might be many watch buyers that for some reason or other are not keen on the military associations of many of this type of watch on offer. These watches offer that alternative. You can discover more and buy the watches at https://williamwoodwatches.com/.

Maals – Scottish Watches Podcast

Another brand that has been on my radar for a while now is Maals. Unfortunately for me, I still not had a chance to see their watches in the metal as the brand is based in the midlands and I am of course in Greenwich. In a normal year I would surely have run into them at one of the numerous watch events, so here is hoping for a “new normal” that will allow our social life to re-start.

As you can see their first watch the “Jumping over the moon” is very distinctive looking.

In the absence of any contact other than a couple of Instagram messages I have been able to gain some insight into the company and the founders via the ever entertaining Scottish Watches podcast.

The watches themselves can be found at https://maals.co.uk/

Zero West – TT58

A GOLDEN AGE FOR BRITISH MOTORSPORT

The latest watch from the Emsworth based watch brand Zero West is the TT58 a celebration of British motor racing. This classic Zero West timepiece has strong minimalist lines, an instrument inspired motorsport dial, smooth case and mirror polished DSL lugs.The TT-58 is British designed and engineered. The watch is powered by the stellar Swiss ETA 2824 automatic movement and is fitted with a ZW handmade strap in British racing green with vintage contrasting stitching and an engraved polished buckle.

Then for me the “piece de resistance” is the engraved solid caseback, unfortunately the best image I could find to show you was this one below from Instragram.

Technical Details

Case

  • 44mm diameter, brushed 316L stainless steel body
  • Match machined, polished, 316L stainless steel DSL lugs
  • 22mm lug width

Movement

  • ETA 2824
  • 28,800vph
  • 25 jewels
  • Self-winding ball bearing rotor
  • Date function
  • Power reserve ~38 hours
  • Water resistance: 10ATM (100m) 100% tested

Price – £2200

For more information and to order https://zerowest.watch/