Category Archives: British watch

Maals Watches

Maals – Jump over the Moon

This another brand that I have just discovered via Instagram. I would probably have ignored them when I first started this blog as they make a range of quartz watches. Experience has taught me that this recently is the start of many interesting young British brands, Elliot+Brown, Fears and Fare to name just a few. So let me introduce you to Maals watches.

The company was started by two brothers from Warwickshire, Mark Anthony and Andy Lee Sealey – MA + AL + S = Maals. Like many of us the brothers shared a passion for watches, Mark was even taught  the basics of mechanical movements and repairs by an older neighbor from an early age.

They decided to take a chance and start their own company creating eye catching, high quality affordable watches that they themselves would be proud to have in their own collections. All of their watches are designed in the UK influenced by a love of all things design, Italian cars and 70’s classic watches.

For the moment they offer two versions of their “Jump over the moon”  watch, one steel and one black PVD. They both share these specifications:

  • Japanese Miyota 6P24 quartz movement
  • Central second hand
  • Hour and minute discs
  • Moonphase element
  • Domed silver sunburst dial
  • Domed mineral crystal with anti-reflective coating underside
  • 42mm 316L brushed stainless steel case
  • 5ATM water resistance
  • Curved steel snap-on caseback with exclusive etched artwork by Okse
  • Laser etched steel crown
  • Leather vintage style strap
  • 12 month International warranty
The case back of both versions

The watches are available for pre-order  on their website for £249.

So for me it could all have stopped here with two reasonably priced eye-catching watches. However remembering my premise that many new British companies have started with quartz movements I contacted the brothers to see if they had any plans to go mechanical. The good news is yes. They are working three/four designs.

So from what I can glean online this should be a brand to keep an eye on. Hopefully I will get to see a watch in the steel soon.

 

Elliot Brown – Military Watch

Many watch lover’s have a special attraction to military watches. I have posted recently about the “Dirty Dozen” and 6BB watches, both past and revived.

Holton – new military watch

Elliot Brown are now offering something slightly different a new watch designed together with the British military, not an old design refreshed or relaunched.

It’s the first military issued watch from a British company in over ten years and prior to being approved, was the subject of intense testing, surviving some of the most hostile conditions imaginable.

The Brief: capable of prolongued exposure to water and dust, durable, shock resistant, clear visibility day or night,  unidirectional timing bezel operable with a gloved hand, easy strap changes and comfortable strapping options that don’t break.

As a piece of equipment issued by the stores, the Holton has been assigned the NATO stock number 6645-99-303-0677: Time-measuring instruments; United Kingdom, and features the ‘Crow’s foot/Pusser’s Arrow/Broad Arrow‘ on the dial in subdued grey.

The watch will also be available for non-military wrists from £425. I have not seen a watch in the metal, but Elliot Brown do have a good reputation. I hope to get my hands on one soon. In the meantime you can get more detailed from the Elliot Brown website.

 

Meerson Mutiny

A couple of weeks ago I received an invitation to  an event presenting the Meerson Mutiny watch, unfortunately as regularly happens a “day job” commitment meant I was unable to attend.

Meerson is special brand for for me. Firstly because it made me question whether I should count them as a British watch brand. Then because they were generous enough to lend me a watch for my first review, the black Altitude Officier. Finally, they are really nice people.

The purpose of the September ( well it seemed like a few weeks ago) event, was to show two additions to the Mutiny range for 2019.

 

2019 Mutiny

The first sports a leather lined, dark jean strap and a complimentary light blue dial. Light brown appliques and strap stitching, alongside the steel case completes the colour palette.

Mutiny 2019 “Surfside”

The second, nicknamed the ‘Surfside’, was orginally crafted as very special bespoke piece for a client. A keen kite-surfer and lover of all things aquatic, she wanted a watch that paid tribute to her life’s passion. The end result was stunning, a two tone dial that changes colour depending on the angle it is viewed at. The watch face glis- tens as it turns from Turquoise to deep purple, and back again. These shades extend from the dial on to the fabric strap.

Meerson watches are beautifully built and completely off most peoples radar, watches for people that enjoy fine objects –  subtly.

 

Fears Brunswick Midas

Some of you might have seen this teaser shot I posted on Instagram a little while ago. Well now the facts are public, there is a second Brunswick version, the Midas. This watch has been officially launched at today’s Watchmakers Club event in London. Unfortunately for practical reasons I was unable to attend so I am really looking forward to hear what the reaction has been.

The prototype Nicholas Bowman-Scargill showed me look really nice, the cushion shaped case makes a perfect “gold watch”.

I am really looking forward to see what this young brand comes up with next – a chronograph maybe ?

You might remember my teaser
Fears Brunswick Midas – Teaser
Fears Brunswick Midas
Caseback of Fears Brunswick Midas

 

CASE

Phosphor Bronze plated with multiple layers of yellow & rose gold, 38mm x 38mm cushion-shaped, plated and finished in the UK

LUG WIDTH

20mm

MOVEMENT

Top-grade ETA 7001, manual winding, 17 jewel, 21,600vph (3Hz) and 40 hr power reserve. Movement bridges ‘stippled’ and gold plated in the UK

GLASS

Sapphire Crystals to front (with anti-reflective) and back

DIAL

Cold resin enamel with skeleton Fears hands, plated in yellow & rose gold, made in the UK

FUNCTIONS

Time with subsidiary seconds at 6 o’clock

WARRENTY

2 Year guarantee from date of purchase

STRAP

Fears Bristol Leather Strap – crafted from premium calf leather made in Bristol

SERIAL NUMBER

Individually numbered, sequentially

MODEL NUMBER

BS23801

RETAIL PRICE

£3,950 inc. VAT

Zero West Longitude

Zero West Longitude

I first came across Zero West on Instagram. Posts promising watches with links to many things I like to read about, fast boats, Spitfires and café racers. The final detail that tweaked my interest was the fact this company was based in an old boat house in Emsworth, Hampshire – an important place in the youth of yours truly. We exchanged some messages, Zero West promising to tell me more about their project when they were ready.

After several more intriguing Instagram postings the moment arrived; Andrew, one of the founders, was going to be in London and suggested we meet so he could tell me about their watches.

The story starts in much the way many of these do, two friends , Andrew and Graham, a common interest, unlike many of these conversations they actually started a company. Their advantage being Graham is an engineer and Andrew a designer, the ideal combination of complimentary skills.

At our meeting I was surprised when Andrew brought out not just not just one watch but several. I say several as Andrew has asked me not to discuss the whole collection, I think though I can safely they cover many of the themes outlined above.

So I will stick to the watch in hand, the first to market the Longitude, which if everything goes to plan goes on sale next week.

My first impression strapping the watch to my wrist was gosh, this is a big watch, at 44mm it equals the Schofield I reviewed earlier this year. For some reason though the case design makes it feel bigger. Then bringing the watch to my ear – almost silence, you barely hear a tick or the sound of the automatic movement through the hefty case.

The polished case is of an interesting construction in that the lugs are mounted by two screws to each side. It is certainly not a watch that goes unobserved. This first of all put me off a little as I was wondering when I might fell comfortable wearing something so large and visible. After a few days through I started to feel much more comfortable finding that the watch works really well with my predominantly blue office wardrobe, thanks to the heavy blue leather strap. The straps are also made by Zero West, after approaching several suppliers Graham decided he could make them himself, and a beautiful job he does to. My only criticism being a lightly large keeper.

Longitude Strap

The gentlemen from Zero West explained that the design of this watch was inspired by the H4 of the British horological innovator John Harrison.

Harrison H4 – photo National Maritime Museum Greenwich

 

Clearly it is not a straight replica. The black and white dial uses the  same roman numerals and blue enameled hands. The floral decoration around the original dial have instead been replicated on the case back.

Longitude caseback detail

In addition the dial features the date 22/10/1884 under the number six, this being the date of the International Meridian Conference in Washington. during which Greenwich Meridian was recognised as the international standard for longitude.  Then above the twelve you will find the longitude and latitude for the Greenwich Meridian.

These are the key details of the watch:

Main Crown

• Screw lock & sprung deep straight knurled & polished 316L stainless steel with triple seal technology

Crystal

• Custom double curved domed sapphire glass with blue AR coating on the internal surface

Movement

• SELLITA SW200-1 25.60mm 11.50 calibre 28,800vph

• 26 jewels

• Incabloc shock system

• Self-winding ball bearing rotor

• Date function

• Power reserve ~38 hours

• Water resistance: 10ATM (100m) 100% tested

Dial

• White enamel over brass substrate with over printed numerals

Hands

• Blue enamel

• Polished steel diamond cut sweep hand

Strap

• 22/22mm Custom handmade Horween water resistant Ink blue Chromexcel leather strap

• Single wide sliding keeper loop

• Natural burnished edges

• Waxed hemp hand stitching

• Polished 316L stainless steel ARD buckle with engraved ZW logo

Dimensions

• 44mm diameter

• 14.1mm thick

• 22mm lug width

• 49.6mm lug to lug pin spacing

RRP £1,950

Limited to 20 pieces

So in conclusion this is a very bold individual first watch that is very different to most of the watches on the market today. As mentioned earlier there are several more similarly distinctive models ready to follow this. Best of luck to Zero West.

Bremont Supersonic

Last week there was a significant amount of stories in the blogosphere about the latest limited edition from Bremont.

The watch was launched at an event at the London Design Museum, an event for which Grinidgetime’s invitation was “lost in the post”, or at least I kid myself.

Bremont Supersonic

The watch is a celebration of the 50th anniversary of Concorde and incorporates parts of the supersonic aircraft. It will be available in three case materials, steel, rose gold and white gold at prices from £9495 to £17995.

To save me time Bremont have published their usual video explaining all we need to know.

This is a very handsome looking watch celebrating an important part of Britains aviation history. I just wonder at the logic of using a manual wind movement, what does that say about advanced technology ?

 

Vertex M100B – The Black One

After reviewing and enjoying the original Vertex M100 I was intrigued to experience the limited edition blacked out version.

M100B on rubber strap

I am sure I have read a comment from Don Cochrane of Vertex that this watch was how he imagined the dirty dozen watches might have evolved. The blacked out look making the watch even more appropriate for stealthy military operations. There is certainly no doubt that the black DLC coating does give a more modern look, especially on the superb, and subtly branded, rubber strap.

Aside from this particular watch I had been eyeing black cased watches for a time attracted by their purposeful modern. However whilst considering the merits of the M100B I realised that for me, black is not particularly new.

My previous black watches

So this brings me to my first observation, the DLC finish does actually look more stealthy. On the first morning of wearing the Vertex ,my usually attentive wife, did not notice the watch at all, when I bought it to her attention she said she had thought I was wearing the Swatch on the right in the picture above. Now for some of us that might like to keep our growing watch collections less evident, this could be a bonus feature.

Like the original watch this one comes packaged in a Peli case with three straps – however in place of the leather strap there is  a bespoke Vertex rubber two-piece strap. The two Vertex nylon NATO-straps this time are  in Red with black DLC metal parts and all Black.

M100B on red NATO

 

M100B on black NATO

The star strap has to be the new rubber one. It is super comfortable and very “elegant” exception to what I was used to expect from rubber straps. I especially like the very subtle branding. The Vertex arrow featuring on the top near to the lugs and as a grippy looking pattern on the underside.

Rubber strap detail
M100B rubber strap underside
Only 150 M100B timepieces will be produced and when I checked last week there are still some available at £2624.40. Unlike the M100 no referral is required.
The other specifications remain the same as the original. A 40mm case housing a ETA 7001 movement with a solid caseback.
 Then of course there is still the amazing lume….

 

That LUME

In conclusion this watch is a great compliment to the original with the advantage that you do not need a recommendation to buy one.

For more information and possibly to buy one visit the Vertex website.

Pinion Atom

For a couple of months I have been the proud owner of a rare first series Pinion Atom, which are now no longer  available. For those of you not familiar with the Atom, it is the first watch from Pinion to use a Japanese Miyota movement.

Pinion Atom

At £790, this watch offered a lower entry price than that usually associated with Pinion, whilst maintaining many of the qualities and design elements for which the brand has become known .

As the owner of a Pinion Pure Bronze I was very keen to compare the two watches.

Next to the Pure the obvious difference is the case material and size. The Atom having a 41mm bead  blasted steel case. Then their is the movement, the Miyota 9015 being an automatic. The Atom case is slightly shorter than the Pure and has 20mm lugs rather than 22mm. Despite these differences the two watches are very clearly from the same parents.  Which given the price difference is by no means a small achievement.

Pure & Atom
Pure & Atom profiles

I am a big fan of manual movements, I am attracted to the apparent simplicity and the ritual of winding the watch in the morning. So initially hearing the movement of the automatic rotor in the Atom was a little disconcerting. I have seen other reviews mentioning this, but once I compared the Atom to other watches in my collection in particular a Seiko 5 it is fair to say “they all do it”.

The other difference to many of my watches is the date window. This is a feature I personally unnecessarily clutters the dial, as without the aid of glasses I am usually unable to read.

So getting these minor gripes over with I would like to cover the overall experience of living with the Atom. The dominant feature is clearly the beautifully finished  black dial  with a gillouched machined centre and the sword hands, This shape hands being a first from Pinion . The detailing belies the apparent simplicity of this field watch style dial, with numerals in the Pinion style and the two different levels of black. The small date window placed above the 6, the numerals of the date wheel also use the same Pinion font. Details that become evident if you give this watch more than a quick glance. Finally, for those with very good eyesight the word England appears beneath the six.

The 41mm bead blasted steel case that possibly represents a new direction for Pinion. The Atom being the first to feature bead blasting. This has now been followed by the Atom ND, and the recently announced TT (Twin Time). In my hands this finished has proved to be very resilient. I use this watch as my “doing things” watch and there are still now signs of scratches or blemishes of any kind. The lugs are the now almost standard 20mm which is a godsend for habitual strap swappers like myself, although I wondered whether a slightly larger 22mm might not have suited the watch a little better.

Atom on sand Nato

For anyone who dedicate less time to strap switching than me this watch was supplied with a lovely  rugged brown leather strap with a neat looking branded buckle which rather than the more usual spring bars is attached with little screws.

Atom on original strap

Turning the watch over you find a solid case back. I have never been a fan of display backs, especially on tool watches. As you see the Atom case back is tastefully decorated with an Atomic design.

Atom Case Back

Then should you need any more convincing that this is a practical watch, instead of coming in a beautifully designed box, for which you have to find cupboard space for, it comes in a beautiful handmade  watch roll.

Pinion Watch Roll

I think Pinion have managed to pull off nicely the idea of a well designed and finished watch at a lower cost. It will be very  interesting  to see where this watch leads. As mentioned above we have already seen some indications of this direction with announcement of the TT and the short run of Atom NDs (No date).

How to start a watch brand

I have written a couple times about a new brand from my home county of Hampshire, Hamtun watches. The company launched their first watch in July 2017, the H1 and affordable dive watch, using the crowdfunding site Kickstarter. This was subsequently followed by the more “dressy” Neon

The H1 Diver

The founder of the company, Ross Davis, is very keen to share his insights and experiences in getting his company off the ground. On a website (www.dontdoanmba.com)  separate from Hamtun he has published his tips. Well worth a read if you were wondering what it takes.