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.