Just in case you missed this news, which I guess is unlikely, I wanted to mark this important landmark in history of British watchmaking.
George Daniels’ Space Travellers was recently sold at auction for £3.2m. a new record for a British watch.
The BBC reported Sotheby’s Head of International Watch Division, Daryn Schnipper said: “The Space Travellers’ watch is no doubt one of Daniels’ finest timepieces and one can only be mesmerised by the beauty of its dial and the complexity and wonder of its movement.”
Sometimes real life gets in the way of a blogger’s blogging. Last week I was invited to the launch of Farer’s new dive watch. As a fan of both dive watches and British watch brands I was really looking forward to attending – then I was stuck in a conference in Brighton and could not attend – bother.
The teaser photos on social media in the run up top the launch did not really give much of a clue to the final appearance. I think you will agree they have come up with a great looking watch. The Farer designers have managed to come up with a dive watch that does not follow the usual “submariner” direction. The look is individual whilst at the same time looking classic. The most similar design I can remember is the Longines Heritage Legend.
The Farer cushion case design was chosen for strength. Developed to allow the architecture of the Aqua Compressor system to work seamlessly within the water, it is carved out of a solid block of high-grade 316L stainless steel and finished with highly polished sides and case back, with a fine decorative edge lip cut into the case surrounding the bezel, creating a subtle contrast against the brushed top of the cushion case. The case is characteristic of Farer, dropping down at the lug for a more compact feel and superior comfort on the wrist.
The Aqua Compressor case has the key features of a classic Super-Compressor case design – twin crowns, screwed on case back, compressed O’ring gasket, internal rotating bezel. However the Farer Aqua Compressor design has evolved the specifications of the original system which was created when the water resistance of watches was a big challenge. With the progress of modern materials, they have gone through a whole series of developments to create a very compact but highly technically capable dive watch case. Now tried and tested to modern standards to be taken to depths of 300m / 1000ft.
The Farer Aqua Compressor collection is powered by the Swiss-made ETA 2824-2 Elaboré Non-Date Movement. This is a rare piece from ETA, in that it features no date within the mechanics to make this 100% functional for the diver’s needs. A highly reliable, workhorse movement.
There is a screw down back case to hold the flat sapphire crystal exhibition glass, both utilising compressor gaskets to secure the water resistance and withstand the high pressures to 300m/1000ft.
The watch is available as one of three variants, each named after ships of the Royal Navy.
As well as the natural rubber strap the watches are supplied with a 316L Stainless Steel bracelet.
All this for £ 1095 – which looks a pretty reasonable price. I hope to get my hands on a physical example of the watch soon. I think the Helga version is my current favourite.
This week I received an interesting mail from Nicholas Bowman-Scargill of Fears watches.
Nicholas thought I might be interested in speaking to another British watch brand “Freedom to Exist” . On receiving the e-mail I was pretty happy at the idea that a brand was coming to me. I then did a quick search for some information about the brand and my initial thoughts where “another minimalist watch brand”.
Kirsty and Paul have more than 25 years worth of experience between them of bringing ideas and sketches to life. They met while creating products for Habitat before both joining Made.com That knowledge and experience, combined with a love of classic detailing that make vintage watches truly timeless, inspired them to create FTE. They have started their journey with watches, available in two sizes, that simply tell the time.
They wanted a little space away from the overwhelming noise of branding and technology. They believe freedom is the freedom to choose, to fall in love, to wear what you want, how you want to. It is the Freedom To Exist. That is what inspired Kirsty and Paul in 2015 to create their own minimalist watch brand – because we wanted to create products free from fast fashion, gender rules and passing trend.
No logo. No tracking. No beeping or monitoring.
The basic design of the watch remains the same for the two sizes 40mm and 30mm with both using the Swiss Made Ronda 763 Quartz Movement. The cases are made of 316L stainless steel in a steel finish or with a gunmetal, gold or rose gold PVD coating. Priced between £155 to £175. Bravely the watches are sold with a lifetime guarantee.
Now this all sounds very admirable but in practice I thought they faced considerable marketing challenges moving forward. I was interested to see how they hope to sustain/build an unbranded brand. As Nicholas put me on to Paul and Kirsty I thought it worthwhile to pursue these questions with them. After a few days Paul came back with some answers that demonstrated they had seen these issues coming.
He told me:
Our honest pricing, and selecting the best of every component but still keeping it affordable. Swiss quartz; Italian leather, domed glass etc.
We are the customers. We’re not a faceless brand that is mass produced and churned out. Kirsty and I have touched every element of the brand. From the what face, to photography to the website. FTE’s brand values are also out life values which gives authenticity, that like mined people want to buy into. Joining our community.
The brand free design actually helps appeal to a certain target audience. It’s all about the design and appreciating the design and then being ‘in the know’.
Summing up – they will endeavour to remain, Affordable, with minimal & timeless design. Executed in a honest way; and how we would like to be treated as a customer.
Their future I guess depends on if they can find enough of these people “in the know”. Their ethos though is admirable and as always it is great to see people following their own dreams.
Following on from the success of their first watch the H1 diver Southampton based Hamtun watches have announced the arrival of their second watch – the Neon.
Interestingly for this watch Hamtun have chosen a Swiss movement. The Neon Automatic will feature the Swiss made STP 1-11 movement, which is basically an ETA 2824-2 clone. When compared to the NH35A it wins in all areas. It ships from the factory better regulated, it’s far prettier, it has an extra 2 hours of reserve power, it’s slightly thinner so Hamtun can make the watch thinner, it has a better advertised accuracy and it beats at 28,800 vph so will give a super smooth sweep of the seconds hand.
The other details are:
Available in 2 finishes – brushed 316L stainless steel and matte black PVD finished 316L stainless steel
Matte black ceramic bezel
Available in 5 dial colour combinations. The yellow shown here, blue, green, orange and white
Double domed sapphire crystal on the front with 3 layers of anti-reflective coating on the inside and outside
Sapphire crystal case back with internal and external anti-reflective coating
Custom decorated rotor finished in matte black PVD and featuring the “Neon” branding
Grade-A Swiss Super-LumiNova.
316L stainless steel H-link bracelet with solid end links and a spectacular high-quality clasp
Silicone straps available in 6 colours – black, blue, yellow, green, orange, and white
I am looking forward to seeing this watch in the steel and hopefully the original H1 in the titanium.
If you don’t receive Schofields news letter you might have missed their latest announcement – The Bronze Beater 2 !
The Bronze Beater B2 now in two finishes, raw and force-patinated. That is the raw at the bottom and the darker one above has been chemically treated to oxidise the case. The B2 will be available in less than two weeks!
The dials are double blue with a gold rim and centre. Luminescent numerals and hour markers with the other print in metallic bronze except the pink B. Hands are brushed bronze with little thorns as counterpoise.
Inside they will use an ETA 2824-2 Swiss auto.
Here are some more of Schofield’s excellent images showing more detail.
I am really looking forward to seeing these in the “bronze” at the Salon QP
If you have been reading some of my previous posts or maybe seen my Instagram stream, you will know I have a Bronze Pinion Axis Pure LE for which I been giving updates on the development of the famous “bronze patina”.
Anyway slowly slowly the case of my watch has been getting darker and I have been quiet pleased with the result.
Having read about and seen the drastic effect contact with sea water can have with bronze , some examples I have seen such as some bronze Panerais or the Oris diver of which have gone pretty extreme. I was interested and slightly concerned how my watch would react to my two weeks in Sicily.
Before I show you the effects of seawater I must say the Axis Pure with a couple of Nato straps works out as a pretty good holiday watch. It is water resistant to at least 100m which avoids worrying about swimming. It is tough and any knocks it might take can only enhance its “lived in” look. Finally you don’t have that worry of it attracting the undesirable attention, some more famous Swiss brands get, from street criminals. With the bronze version you get the added interest of how the case will react to different environments like the chlorine of the swimming pool to salt water of the sea.
The conclusion is chlorine seems to have the effect of slightly brightening the metal whilst the sea is the most fun.
The photos above and below where taken after the watch had been in the sea for an hour.
My first thoughts were “wow, that looks pretty cool” quickly moved on to “will that come off?” Now I was pretty confident there are ways to bring the watch back to its original finish but I did not want to return to the “as new look` – fortunately with a bit of a rub you can bring the watch back to whatever level of patina you like.
My next experiment will be to leave the watch a little longer before taking it back to normal.
Pinion still have a few of the Bronze watches left and they are now available a special price here
After closely watching the launch of the Hamtun H1 diver’s watch and the Marloe Cherwell on Kickstarter I had a little browse to see if any other interesting British newcomers are on the horizon.
I have come across two new very nice looking and reasonably priced projects both interestingly using the tried and trusted Seiko NH35A movement.
The first being the 44mm TC9-9 Divers seventies style divers watch.
This watch will be available in brushed stainless steel or black PVD with Super Lume paint on hands and dial . An aluminium bezel insert with 12 hour markers or minute markers. As you might expect for a diver’s watch water resistance is quoted at 1000 feet.
There is at the time of writing the opportunity to get this watch with a pledge of £179 or more on Kickstarter.
The second watch is from London based Alkin, who I have to admit to finding our about from them giving me several likes on my Instagram page.
This Kickstarter project has not yet gone live, so if you are interested you should sign-up to receive a notification for when they launch.
From what I can glean form the various social media postings this handsome minimalist watch should feature a 42mm 316L stainless steel case in plain brushed steel or Black PVD, sapphire crystal, an exhibition case back and 100 metre water resistance. The initial Kickstarter price should be $225.
Many people dream of starting their own business and I guess if you are reading this blog you might of even dreamt of starting a watch company. Whenever I meet people that have made the commitment I am always hugely impressed and slightly jealous of the the obvious satisfaction of what they are doing.
The first obstacle that comes up is “I wouldn’t know where to start!”
Well now thanks to Ross Davis of Hamtun watches this is no longer an excuse. On the Hamtun website he has posted a the process on his blog. The first episode is entitled “how to get funded on Kickstarter” published in July 16th. This has now been followed by a second post “Designing and Prototyping a watch”.
Here are the links. I hope this will give some of you the inspiration to take the leap.
This week I was feeling pretty chuffed, Nicholas Bowman-Scargill e-mailed me with news of the latest announcement from Fears. I had to keep this news to myself, which disappointed my son who is a Fears fan.
….and here it is
Commenting on the launch of the new colour, Managing Director Nicholas Bowman-Scargill says, “Building on the success of the initial two dial and five strap colours, the time felt right to introduce an additional elegant colour to the range. We took months to perfect both tone and finish, and the result is a watch that is perfectly understated. Clean and minimal, “Pebble” Grey is the Fears take on the classic silver dial, ideally suited for the modern man and woman.”
Colour aside this latest model is technically the same as the original white and blue watches. A 38mm steel case using a Swiss Ronda quartz movement.
I must say it is great to see Fears confidently growing their range. I look forward to discussing the first year of the brand with Nicholas soon.