All posts by Alastair

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

Pinion Atom etc

After what seems a relatively quiet time in terms of news from Pinion, Piers Berry has made several announcements recently.

The most imminent being the availability of the “new entry point to the Pinion family” the Atom.

Pinion Atom

The Atom inherits all of the design and production qualities seen in the previous watches in the Pinion collection, but priced at £790 (£658.33 ex.VAT).

The Atom is sized at 41mm diameter, with a slim height of 11mm and is encased in 316L stainless steel with a bead-blasted finish.

The design of the dial follows the graphic code established by earlier models and presents typographic numerals in white, coated with SuperLuminova and contrasting radium colouring. The watch is water resistant to 100-metres.

Unlike all other Pinion watches, the Atom uses the Japanese automatic  calibre (Miyota 9015) which provides accurate timekeeping and a 42-hour power reserve. The reverse of the watch features a solid steel case back that is engraved with the Atom motif and individually numbered.

The Atom is built and tested in England. The watch is available from the Pinion website http://www.pinionwatches.com

Then coming later in the year will be a watch in a new material for Pinion; the TT their first watch in titanium which almost halves the weight of the case when compared to the steel models.

Pinion TT

Weight aside the TT has the familiar design elements of the Pinion range, as you can see on this prototype above. A brushed finish 42mm case with an exhibition back. Offering 10 atm (100 meters) water resistance.

The movement inside being an ETA 2893-2 with a 24 hour hand (second time zone /GMT). The first GMT from Pinion. I am really looking forward to see the final version.

Then this week came the very interesting announcement. Pinion will return to offering bronze watches. After launching the Pinion brand  in 2013 with bronze watches at the core of his range Piers judged that bronze was becoming too mainstream and decided not to offer them anymore. He has had a re-think, done a survey of friends and clients and decided to return to bronze in 2018 with a re-worked Axis II automatic. The interesting he will this time use a bronze, rather than steel, crown. This I remember being a point of discussion, personally originally thought a bronze crown was the the best fit, now after a year with my Pure bronze I am a big fan of the steel crown. I find it links visually very well with the hands and strap fittings. I will reserve final judgement until I have seen the new version.

2018 looks like another interesting year for Pinion.

 

Fears Brunswick

As a promised here is a more specific look at the newly announced Fears Brunswick.

After quietly getting on with launching his reborn company around the original three watch Redcliff range and the fourth “pebble grey” variant Nicholas Bowman-Scargill has been dropping hints of a new watch since early October. Despite my questions he would not admit they would be launching a mechanical watch.

I concluded therefore this years Salon QP would see the launch of a mechanical Redcliff, probably with a Swiss movement. I thought this would follow the original Fears philosophy of good quality watches at a reasonable price. It was with this in mind I met Nicholas in mid-October for a catch-up and hopefully news of the new watches.

Over couple of beers and a general catch-up Nicholas then introduced me to the new watches, A “passport red” Redcliff, quartz, the Redcliff Continental,  again quartz. After covering the merits of these watches as worthy additions to the Fears range came the news I had been waiting for – the mechanical watch, the Brunswick.

At this point the actual prototype was not ready, but is was able to see the design. Here it is with the vintage Fears that inspired the design.

The Brunswick design and inspiration

What  a surprise, a cushion cased, hand wound watch. But still difficult to appreciate from the drawings. I would have to wait until the “Night Before” of the Watchmakers Cub, by which time the prototype should be ready.

So here it is on my wrist.

Fears Brunswick Prototype

As you can see the drawings did not do the actual watch justice. This is a very handsome piece that rightly was attracting compliments from everyone that saw it at the Watchmakers evening. A difficult public to win over.

The top grade ETA 7001 manual wind movement is installed in a 38mm cushion case, made in the UK from 316L stainless steel. The dial is cold resin enamel, which together with the thermally blued skelton hands are also made in this country. The front glass and exhibition case back are sapphire crystal. Around the exhibition back there is enough space for engraving and buyers will also have the option to engrave the movement. The final touch of class is the strap made from calf skin tanned by Bristol company Thomas Ware & Sons.

The rather un-English sounding name “Brunswick” is a reference to the address of the Fears export warehouse in Brunswick Square, Bristol.

Nicholas planned an initial batch of 14 watches, this being the number of the building in Brunswick Square. However, the reception of the watch at the Salon QP has been so good this will be increased.

For the moment this lovely watch is available for £1750 (inc. VAT) directly from Fears.

Considering the quoted water resistance of 100m this could be the “one watch” so many people say they are looking for. Ideally for all occasions, even beach holidays if you put it on a waterproof strap, maybe a perlon.

Well done Fears

 

 

 

 

 

 

London Watch Week

I don’t think last week was officially know as “watch week” but that is how it turned out for me, a few events growing out of the Salon QP.

Although maybe “week” might not be quiet the right definition as for me everything started mid-October when I met Nicholas Bowman-Scargill for a catch-up. We had first met a year earlier, before he re-launched the Fears brand at the Salon QP 2016. Nicholas told me all about his first year and the three new watches he would be announcing at this years show.  He revealed these in order of significance. The first being an additional colour to the existing Redcliff range this time a pretty striking Passport Red.

Redcliff Passport Red

Next I was expecting a “mechanical Redcliff”, which seemed to be the obvious development. But no, the next watch Nicholas showed me was the quartz Redcliff Continental. The Continental version has a window just the “6” position enabling the wearer to display a second time zone. A very useful feature for international travellers or people with far flung families.

The Continental Range

Then came the news I had been expecting the Fears mechanical watch, not however as I was imagining a Redcliff but a completely new watch – the Brunswick the first mechanical watch for the new Fears.

The Brunswick concept & inspiration

At this time Nicholas was only able to show me a drawing of the watch as the prototype had yet been delivered.  The finished watch was due to be shown at the Watchmakers Club evening before the Salon QP. I will dedicate a post to this interesting new watch.

This brings me to the start of “Watch Week”; the first event being the Watchmaker’s Club “Night Before” evening in a private club in London on Wednesday.  The Watchmakers Club is a new platform, intended to bring watch collectors and industry experts together via intimate, exclusive events and regular social gatherings. The team behind this unique organisation consists of watchmakers, independent brands, industry influencers and journalists.

It all started in 2012, Andreas Strehler exhibited for the first time at SalonQP in London. On the night before the opening of SalonQP, he invited a few friends and watch enthusiasts to share a drink, talk about watches and the world in general. The idea of The Night Before was born.

On the first evening only a handful of what would become a band of friends showed up at the Lansdowne Club in Mayfair. Over the years, The Night Before became an institution: A gathering of interesting people interested in the world of watches and as the guest list began to grow the Lansdowne Club became too small to host the event.

This year the event was held at The Libary in St Martins Lane. There were two sections, one of which, upstairs, was dedicated the British brands, Fears, Garrick and Pinion. It was a great opportunity firstly to see the Fears Brunswick and Pinions new Atom finally in the metal.

Pinion Atom

The Atom doesn’t disappoint at all. As you can see the design clearly says, Pinion. As we have come to expect, Piers presented a really nice well built watch. Differently to previous Pinions you first notice the slimmer (11mm) steel case, made possible by the use of the Japanese Miyota 9105 automatic movement. Using this movement also enables Pinion to offer a watch at a much lower price point than we are used to from this brand, £790. It will be very interesting to see how this bet goes.

After Fears and Pinion I managed to squeeze through to the table where Garrick’s Simon Michlmayr  was displaying their watches, I was especially keen to see the new S1. This watch is built by master watchmaker, Craig Baird, and finished entirely by hand. This is Garrick’s most complicated timepiece to date, featuring a skeletonised dial and incorporating a power reserve indicator. Only five S1 timepieces will be made per annum.

Sketch of Garrick S1

Unfortunately due lack of space and light I couldn’t get a really decent picture so to give an idea of how the watch is I have taken this picture from Garrick website.

Giles Ellis of Schofield was also present that night along with Simon Cudd, of Schofield + Cudd straps, neither was displaying their products other than those they were wearing. I did manage a dingy peek at Schofield latest watch – the Telemark.

All in all it was a very pleasant evening but being a “school night” I  thought it wise to make my way home.

After “the Night Before” comes the actual night- the first evening of this years Salon QP. The big difference between the two evenings was the lighting.

I managed to say hello again to Simon Michlmayr and to get a shot of the Garrick range.

The Garrick range

I then found the two British stands together firstly, the Fears Departure lounge that was proving very popular with the new Brunswick attracting a great deal of praise. Then next door Schofield overseen by Giles Ellis himself and Simon Cudd with his straps. Again thanks to better light I managed to get some more useful pictures.

Schofield Telemark
Schofield Daymark

After visiting the Brits I went a little of topic and had quick chat with two brands that I have admired for a while Habring from Austria and Switzerlands Czapek both really nice and like everyone super enthusiastic about their work.

On Saturday I visited the Salon again this time with my sons, in the hope of planting the seed of an interest in watches early. They were very impressed by the chocolate offered at the Fears Departure lounge.

Marloe Haskell – announced

As I wrote earlier in the week the latest hand wound watch from Marloe, the Haskell, was announced on Thursday and it looks a very impressive effort.

Marloe Haskell – blue

The big difference for Marloe is this watch uses a Swiss movement; the  2804-2 manual winding mechanical movement . It is a small movement at around ∅25.6mm and 3.35mm thick when fully wound will run for over 40 hours. Despite this small size the 2804-2 still beats at 28,800 bph.

Marloe tell us the Haskell was designed with the modern day adventurer in mind, whether an urban wanderer, working through the bustling city commute, or a world traveller trekking through new environments; the Haskell is designed to be with you every step of the way.

The 40mm case, which offers 100m water resistance, has a subtle barrel profile with robust yet elegant lugs; thick, flat sapphire crystal with anti-reflective coating; signature Antarctica domed caseback; a big, solid concave double o-ring crown .

The Haskell Range

The Haskell is currently available in four colours all costing £995.

 

 

Bamford Mayfair Watch

Bamford, the well known London based customisers of high end watches has for some time provided a “service watch” for their clients for use whilst their own watch is being worked on.

In two weeks they will make these watches available for sale.

Bamford Mayfair Range

The Bamford Mayfair range of watches are available in a number of combinations. From a choice in dial colour, bezel, coating and type of strap, you can choose a Bamford Mayfair to match your own taste.

The 40mm case will be made of military grade titanium. The movement will be a trusty Miyota calibre 2035.

For £425 you can look like you are having your Rolex customised.

Marloe Haskell

I received an e-mail that I thought letting you all know about. Marloe will announce their fourth watch this Thursday (October 26th) at 3pm (BST).

The Haskell – teaser

This watch will be limited to 500 pieces. For the first time from  Marloe the watch will use a Swiss movement. The brand from Oxfordshire has used Chinese movements in their first two watches, the Cherwell and Lomond. They followed these using a Japanese Miyota movement in the Derwent.

This is all the news at the moment.

Salon QP – 2017

The highlight  of this time of year for British watch enthusiasts for several years has is the Salon QP watch exhibition in the Saatchi Gallery.

Despite there being less brands showing this year I am still looking forward to some announcements from British brands.

Nicholas Bowman-Scargill of Fears watches has told me they will be announcing three new watches. Since their launch at last year’s Salon QP, Fears have so far added a grey variant to their existing bue and white faced Redcliffe watch. Nicholas assures me the new launches will be more than just an additional colour.

Then following alphabetical order we come to Garrick who will be announcing two new  watches firstly an addition to the Portsmouth family. This will feature a guilloché dial, offered in two variants, grey (pictured below) or silver.

Portsmouth with guilloché dial

Then, Garrick will unveil a totally new timepiece, the S1. This watch is built by master watchmaker, Craig Baird, and finished entirely by hand. This is Garrick’s most complicated timepiece to date, featuring a skeletonised dial and incorporating a power reserve indicator. Only five S1 timepieces will be made per annum, conferring a high degree of exclusivity.

Moving along the alphabet, after being absent from last year’s show Schofield from Sussex will be back. I am really looking forward to finally seeing the Daymark watch in the metal. We should also get a chance to see the new version of the Bronze Beater, that will be available in raw un-treated metal or chemically aged.

The Bronze Beater 2

From the images I have seen, I assume I am going to prefer the “raw” version. As well as watches we will get to see the new quirky range of straps from the joint endeavour with Simon Cudd – Schofield + Cudd.

Then no longer the alphabet we come to Pinion. I am covering them last as they will not be exhibiting at the Salon. They will however be showing their new Atom model (below) at the Watchmaker’s Club event held on the Wednesday before.

Pinion Atom

So I for one am still looking forward to Salon QP running from November 2nd to 4th at the Saatchi Gallery, King’s Rd, London

 

Bremont 1918 – another point of view

You might remember in the past I have commented on Bremont’s heritage building. This is clearly done to increase the perceived value of their watches once they come to market.

After writing my last update on the launch of the 1918 limited editions I came across this video on Youtube. This American gentleman seems to have missed the point somewhere. He goes on about how outrageously expensive these watches are. In a way that suggests Bremont might be stealing food from orphans. Surely a company has a right to offer for sale a product of this nature at whatever price the think appropriate. It is for the market to decide if they are right or not.

If we see lots of these watches discounted in  a year or so we will know he was right.

Bremont 1918 Limited Editions

On October 4th, Bremont held a lavish event at the Imperial War museum to launch the 1918 limited edition three watch range commemorating the founding of the Royal Air Force one hundred years ago.

The 1918 Collection

 

All watches feature a Bremont decorated rotor featuring metal and wood veneer from four original RAF aircraft which flew in WWI and WWII. 43mm Stainless steel, white gold or rose gold Trip-Tick® case construction. Water resistant to 10 ATM, 100 metres. Alligator strap with pin buckle to complement case material. Limited to 275 pieces Steel and 75 in each gold.

Movement

Modified calibre 13 ¼’’’ BE-16AE automatic chronometer with 26 jewels, Glucydur balance and Anachron balance spring, with Nivaflex 1 mainspring. Rated frequency of 28,800 A/h with 42-hour minimum power reserve. Bremont decorated rotor featuring metal and wood veneer from 4 original RAF aircraft which flew in WWI and WWII.

Case

Stainless steel, white gold or rose gold in Bremont’s Trip-Tick® construction. Case diameter 43mm, height 17.2mm, lug width 22mm.

Caseback

Stainless steel, white gold or rose gold case back with integrated flat sapphire crystal, 5 stainless steel/white gold/rose gold screws with polished heads.

Dial

Opalin matt metal dial, applied indexes, solid gold/blued nickel hands with Super-LumiNova®.

As we have now come to expect from Bremont they have a great video explaining the association with the Royal Air Force.

A percentage of proceeds from the sale of the 1918 will go to the Royal Air Forces Association (RAFA), which has supported current and former RAF personnel for almost 90 years.

J.W. Benson

Having the watch bug, like many similar diseases, can be expensive. The solution is more often than not is to resort to elaborate man maths justifying the most recent acquisition. There is however an alternative; buy a used watch. This solution can offer some considerable savings especially if you broaden your search away from more recent watches and especially from the obvious brands.

Luckily for Grinidgetime, British brands offer considerable opportunities as many have dropped by the wayside with the passing of time. One such brand is J.W, Benson of Regents Street, London. I first really noticed these watches whilst searching for Smiths on e-Bay. One particular model caught my eye. The Tropical with a Smiths movement and a Dennison case. The historical British watchmaking brands in one watch – bingo. Unfortunately the prices being asked are starting to look expensive.

J.W. Benson “Tropical”

J W Benson originated in 1847, founded by James William Benson and Samuel Suckley Benson. They were regarded as one of Victorian London’s most prestigious retail jewellers and they also manufactured their own watch movements. Benson had prestigious premises at 43 Cornhill and, when the original partnership was dissolved and James William Benson took over the running of the business, they also opened a branch at 33 Ludgate Hill.

J.W. Benson – Ludgate Hill

A further branch was added at glamorous 25 Old Bond Street and JW Benson proudly boasted an elite client base made up of both British and European royalty and a selection of well heeled industrialists and business figures including the King of Siam, the King of Portugal, the King of Denmark, the Emperor of Japan, the Tsar of Russia and the King of Greece. JW Benson also supplied watches to Queen Victoria and the Prince of Wales. Throughout its history, J.W. Benson Ltd was also official watchmaker to the Admiralty & the War Department.

During W.W.I. the factory was bombed, destroying thousands of timepieces and from this point on the company no longer manufactured its own watches, but still continued as a retailer. The timepieces bearing the company name used high quality Swiss movements supplied by manufacturers such as, Vertex (Revue), Cyma/Tavannes, Longines and by the English maker, S. Smith & Sons.

J. W. Benson Ltd continued until 1973 at which time the name was sold to the Royal jewellers, Garrards.

 

Now back to my recent e-Bay find a 1960’s J.W Benson with a 17 manual wind Swiss movement.

My Benson

 

When the watch arrived in the post I was very pleasantly surprised. The condition was in much better condition than I expected. The 34mm case, in what I assume is gold plate is in great condition apart from a few scratches.

The movement

The movement looks in great condition, though I suspect is in need of a clean as it is running slow at the moment.

JW Benson is an interesting brand with some really nice watches in the back catalogue. Definitely worth hunting out – happy hunting