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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
Farer’s launch of an automatic chronograph took me a little by surprise, mainly because it was my first week back from my holidays which meant me having to catch up on paying day job. This is not the first time this has happened since the brand appeared in 2015. I must get better at seeing their PR releases.
The new range consists of three versions the Cobb (above), the brown dialed Eldridge and mint handed Segrave.
The 39mm cases are built around the Swiss-made ETA 2894-2 Élaboré movement. The 316L stainless steel outer case profile has a depth of just 12.5m, the drop lugs should keep the straps tight to create a case that hugs the wrist.
These new additions to the Farer range nicely follow the design code of the previous models of traditional looking case designs combined with modern color ways on their dials.
I have still yet to try any of the Farer range so must reserve final judgement but these very individual pieces do look great value at £1675.
I have been following very closely the development of the Fears Watch Company since before the launch at the Salon QP two years ago.
The company launched with the very nicely built quartz powered Radcliffe range. This was an understandable first step for the relaunch of a company, self-funded by the young Nicholas Bowman-Scargill, but does limit the appeal of the watches to many watch lovers. During my various conversations with Nicholas I understood that he would at sometime in the future launch some more traditional mechanically powered watches. With this in mind I was excited when we arranged to meet to chat about the next Fears developments. Nicholas excitedly pulled out the Redcliffe Continental, still quartz powered. We spent sometime discussing the obvious merits of this addition to the range. Then came the real surprise, these drawings below, for a hand wound mechanical watch.
The Brunswick, named after the location in Bristol of the old export department, was launched at last years Salon QP to considerable acclaim. The watch has been made in batches of fourteen, so there are not many available, so when Nicholas dropped me a note offering me the chance to review an example of the watch I jumped at it. The watch I have been wearing for the last week is the prototype, which Nicholas pointed out does not have the brass movement ring of the production watch and should not be considered waterproof.
You may have read that I am sceptical about the need for large luxurious boxes for watches mainly due to the storage limitations of many modern homes. This said the box from Fears is a work of art, so maybe I can reconsider. As you will see from the pictures the black ash box features an engraved map of Brunswick Square, which is just one of the amazing details.
The watch arrived with a beautiful black leather strap, which as an irregular suit wearer, I find a little too formal for everyday use. I therefore swapped it over a series of Perlon straps which add to the slightly retro feel the cushion case gives. For the summer I particularly like the light grey strap.
Having said that I was also quiet keen also on the versaltilty of the brown version as well.
Then if you want to feel even more summery, you could try a brighter perlon – green maybe.
I also tried a blue Fears leather strip from my colleagues Redcliff Continental, which combined very well with the really nice blue skeleton hands which are such an important feature of this watch.
I think I have demonstrated what a versatile watch the Brunswick is. It could really be all the watch you need that watch many enthusiasts are searching – the “one watch”.
It satisfies all my “one watch” criteria :
It has “classic” good looks
It has 100m water resistant
The straps are very easily changed
It has a proven reliable Swiss movement
It can do “smart” or “casual”
Apart from versatility what makes this watch “one watch” material is the detailing and quality. The more you look at it the more you notice, from the different finishes on the various surfaces of the case, to the beautifully traditional looking cold enameled face. If you listen to Chris Mann’s excellent Time4apint podcast about the Brunswick , Nicholas explains in quiet some detail the extra ordinary amount of work that the British watchmakers, that he works with, put into making this beautiful cushion case watch. So thanks to Chris I am saved the time of going into a great deal of detail, which I would anyway do badly.
In conclusion this is a lovely watch that shows what this young brand is capable of – I for one am really looking forward to see what comes after this – watch this space.
Sorry for the blatant lift from the Pinion website but I wanted to post the availability of Pinion’s latest watch the “TT – Twin Time” as soon as possible. Pinion have managed to produce a great looking titanium watch, a material that I am usually not too keen on for some unknown reason.
The Pinion TT (Two Time-zones) is a 42mm titanium GMT watch with dual time-zone functionality and powered by a Swiss automatic movement.
The Pinion TT is available in two dial variants: Maroon and Anthracite, with each titanium GMT watch feature a contrasting colour scheme and central seconds hand. On both models, a second time-zone is indicated by a beau-blue coloured GMT hand that can be configured to point at the 24-hour numerals on the dial.
The 42mm case is manufactured from titanium which makes the watch around 25% lighter than its steel equivalent ( Axis II Steel ) yet titanium is stronger than steel and features a distinctive grey hue colouring in a brushed/satin finish.
As with previous watches in the Pinion collection, such as the Pure and R-1969, the Pinion TT watch features applied typographic numerals that are raised above the base of the dial. Because of this, the design of the 24 hour GMT hand features a curve to allow it to pass these numerals.
At the heart of the titanium gmt watch is a Swiss made automatic movement, ETA 2893-2 that provides reliable and accurate timekeeping. The decorated movement and Pinion beau-blue winding rotor are visible through the glass exhibition case back on the reverse.
As with all Pinion watches, the TT is water resistant to 100 metres depth; it is finished, assembled and tested by experienced watchmakers in England.
I am looking forward to seeing these watches in the metal
You might have noticed from my instagram feed that I am currently reviewing the Fears Brunswick.
However before I get round to writing my full review I feel obliged to highlight this really nice interview with Nicholas Bowman-Scargill, the re-founder of Fears watches on the latest Time4aPint podcast.
I have had to listen to this episode twice and I still think I am missing a greta deal of the detail, a real treat for British watch fans
The original batch of Pinion’s entry level watch should by now all be sold. For anyone that was not able to get hold of one all is not lost I recently received a newsletter announcing a release of a further 30 Atoms, These watches will differ slightly from the original principally by not having a date window. a feature that will not be missed by those of us who have difficulty in reading date windows on the vast majority of watches. As you will see the dial design will also be returning to the familiar Pinion use of only 12,3,6 and 9 numbers.
Whilst I am writing about this new watch I thought it might also be a great opportunity to reflect on my experiences with my original Atom.
This watch has now become my goto “doing things” watch. It enables me to wear a British watch in riskier situations than would feel comfortable with other watches. It has effectively taken the place of my Hamilton Khaki that previously filled that role. The Atom is suited to this use for several reasons. It has 10 ATM water resistance, the case is slim so less likely to be bashed and of course the bullet proof Miyota automatic movement. Japanese automatic movements have always given me the idea they can take more punishment than their European cousins.
For the summer and to increase the “doing things” suitability I have chosen to swap the really nice original strap with its great buckle with a variety of fabric straps. Although this strap is too nice not to return in the autumn.
Below is my current favorite, a green MN from Erika’s Originals, The elasticity and the absence of the need to “fold back” making these straps for me the “thinking man’s” nato.
With these comments I am maybe getting my blog entries in the wrong order, a proper review of the original Atom should have come first. Be sure I am onto it.
Just in case you cannot wait here are the essential details of the original Atom.
Automatic Japanese mechanical movement
Time in hours, minutes
Push in crown
Stainless steel case back, engraved
20mm Handmade leather strap ( in various options ).
Japanese Miyota 9015
Frequency: 28,800 vibrations per hour
Power reserve: 42 hours
Winding: Automatic / self-winding
Case: 316L Stainless steel, matt bead-blasted finish
Glass: Sapphire, convex with anti-reflective coating on the inside
In my waiting for the next review I have posted very little recently. So just to keep things rolling along a little I thought I should give a quick update on the latest news I have picked up.
The biggest story as far as I am concerned is the announcement on Friday of a second watch from the revived Vertex brand, the M100B. I guess the “B” standing for black as this watch is essentially the same watch as the original M100 but with a black case and a rubber strap.
The only picture I could find at the moment is this “screen shot” from Instagram.
This watch will be limited to 150 pieces, as yet I am not sure of the requirements for getting hold of one. I hope to find out more once the official press release is published.
This launch co-incides with the first anniversary of the re-launched Vertex brand.
The other newsworthy event for me was the Pop- Up Fears Museum evening held at Picketts in Mayfair. This was a very enjoyable evening to which Nicholas Bowman-Scargill bought, as well his current range, also some examples of past Fears watches.
In the picture above you can see on the far right the watch that inspired the new Brunswick, which by all accounts is selling very well.
When I last met Nicholas he was very proud of the gold watch at the top of this collection – an inspiration for a future model ?
I have known Nicholas Bowman-Scargill the 4th Managing Director of Fears Watches since the summer of 2016, just before he re-launched the company at that years Salon QP.
Since that time he now has a range of three watches. The original Redcliff, the Redcliff Continental and the mechanical Brunswick. Despite being a a little skeptical about the space on the market for another quartz watch brand , however I like Nicholas and admire what he is doing. I want to help him along by maybe offering his watches the little extra visibility this blog can offer. To this end I have continued to drop hints about getting my hands on one of his watches to review. Then a couple of weeks ago he said he might be able to finally offer me the opportunity – a Redcliff Continental. Which colour combination would I prefer? The sensible person inside me said Blue Dial with Blue strap, a combination that suits the most occasions – although the Red/Red combination was tempting.
The feature that distinguishes the Continental from its regular Redcliff sibling is the addition of the extra time zone window. This feature enables the wearer to keep track on the hour in another part of the world. This is clearly a very useful additional feature for international travellers or for people like me, wondering when it is a good time to call a potential client in Korea.
Anyone that I have spoken to about Nicholas Bowman-Scargill will tell you he is a man with an eye for detail and this is immediately evident from the moment you have the Continental’s box in your hands, As well as the usual guarantee card, each watch comes with a service record book, much like that of a car, and really nice cleaning cloth featuring a map of the area of Bristol from where Fears originated. The service book does in someway help to solve the intrinsic impersonality of quartz movement, suggesting you do more than take the watch to the nearest corner shop when the battery needs changing. You and the watch will have a history to record.
Moving on to the watch itself. Like the original Redcliff the stainless steel case is a comfortable 38mm which looks like an inspired choice given this years trend away from huge men’s watches. This is a size that can work for both sexes and in both formal or informal occasions. The look of the watch falls very much into the “smart/casual” category. Which makes this an ideal watch for today’s office.
As I have already above the key to Fears is detail and this is what separates these watches from the “quartz competition”. The first feature you notice is the distinctive dial design featuring the BOAC globe invoking thoughts of the glamour of mid-twentieth century travel. This further reinforces the idea that this is a traveller’s watch. An important Fears design cue carried over from the original Redcliff is the the pipette shape used for hands and the indices. These details and the second time zone window just above the 6 position are all very clearly through the sapphire crystal glass, which whilst very clear is to my taste disappointingly flat.
The steel case is really well made and has very nice lines, one morning sitting at my desk I found myself just looking at how the light played across the different angles of the watch when viewed from the side. Another very nice feature of Fears watches is the quick change spring bars on the strap, as a habitual strap swapper this makes life considerably easier for that last minute morning change of plan. Fears straps are handmade from goat’s skin in Belgium by a family-run atelier, which has specialised exclusively in making watch straps for over 40 years. The leather being sourced from Madras in India, this type of leather is chosen for its soft, supple nature, and its strength means the strap can be made thinner than a calf leather strap.
As I mentioned the watch uses a quartz movement, For this Fears have chosen the Swiss made Ronda 515.24D movement. his rare quartz movement offers outstanding accuracy and reliability with its powerful stepping motor.
As well as Blue the Continental is available with a White or Red dial, all priced at £725 at the time of writing.
In conclusion, the Continental is a nice upgrade of the original Redcliff. It features a great deal of intesting detail and is really versatile. Fears is definitely a brand to watch, the first of the well received mechanical Brunswick model will delivered to their owners soon. What next ?
I have been waiting for what seems like for ever for the latest watch from Pinion, the entry level Atom, to become available.
You might remember I first saw this watch at the Watchmakers Club event before last year’s Salon QP. I was looking forward to getting my hands on one for a review.
Then last week an e-mail arrives from Pinion announcing there were only 20 watches left and once these were gone that was it, or at least until Piers Berry, the founder, changes his mind. So that was it, no watch for me to review.
Salon QP, a more significant watch magazine than my blog, did however manage to get hold of one for review. So I thought I would flag this up to any of you that might not have seen it.