Well first of all for those of you that care I apologise for not posting for over a month. Unfortunately real life has been in the way, nothing serious just “admin”.
However whilst I have been away the world of British watches has not stood still, there is an increasing stream of interesting content to read, watch or listen to. In particular watch podcasts are appearing with increasing regularity.
One person that has already been the subject of a very listenable Time4apint podcast is Nicholas Bowman-Scargill of Fears. The latest Fears newsletter flagged another interview this time by the gentlemen of the Wrist Time podcast.
This is really worth a listen, Nicholas’s passion and enthusiasm really comes through, also that of interviewers. Be careful though, his sentiments are contagious, so you might finish the podcast with a strong need to buy one of his Brunswick watches.
I was very happy, after a couple of not too subtle hints, to be offered my second Schofield watch to review, the Daymark Dark. Unfortunately due to a lack of communication the watch sat in reception of my office for a few days.
However, on opening the outer packaging the first impression you get of this watch is a lovely smell of wood from the beautifully detailed wooden box.
Once out of the box and onto my wrist I expected the overwhelming impression to be “black” given the distinctive 44mm Schofield case, instead the first feature that really stood out were the “pink” anodised hardhats filled with Super Luminova C3 that sparkle above the number indices. Not in a blingy way, just making themselves playfully noticeable on what would otherwise be a more muted dial. A detail that I would not have expected from Schofield. Unfortunately, my iPhone photographic skills are such that I was not able to get a picture that demonstrates this surprising feature.
The Schofield case design is worth mentioning again, as it has now become so recognisable that there is really no need for further branding, probably realising this Schofield make you search the dial very closely until you “Schofield” find printed on the bottom edge of the chapter ring. Will they every make a watch with a different shaped case? There are still plenty of materials they have not used yet after all. Would a slightly smaller version work for female wrists ?
So, the Daymark Dark uses the same case dimensions as Schofield’s Signalman and the other members of the Markers range. Although it has been made from one piece of vapour-blasted stainless steel, the shine and sheen of the Daymark’s case have been replaced by the a Black ceramic coating. This ‘traditional matte’ coating is in the lowest band of gloss that is possible to attain by modern standards. In terms of scratch resistance it is, again, right at one end of the spectrum as it clocks in at a 9H in the Pencil Hardness Test which is the most scratch resistant that a coating can be rated. To give you an idea of the resistance, when sprayed continuously with water two and a half times as saline as seawater the ceramic coating was over ten times as resistant to corrosion as stainless steel.
As you would expect the Daymark Dark features the same tried and tested automatic movement as the first watch in the series, an ETA 2824, which is visible through the display case. Personally I am a huge fan of Schofield’s engraved case backs. Whilst it is interesting to see the automatic movement working, I feel it makes it look a little lost inside in the large case. I am sure Schofield would offer a solid caseback if requested.
Another Schofield feature present is the distinctive crown with nail notch milled into the case with a deep groove running around the circumference. These two details make it easy to pull the crown out. This groove also indicates the ‘affordance’, the action required of the crown, teeth to show rotation and the groove to show pulling in and out.
I reserve my last comments for the 24mm strap, as we expect beautifully made and held to the watch head with screwed bars. Whilst these provide a secure attachment they are super fiddly to undo. Luckily I do not have any other 24mm straps in my draw so I was not tempted to try the Daymark on anything else.
The Daymark Dark, makes a really nice addition to the growing Schofield range and as with the other watches, there are of course many ways to make these already ready distinctive pieces even more personal.
I am really looking forward to seeing the what variants on this cas Schofield come up with in 2019, and if they stick with the core design.
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.
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.
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.
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 ?
Phosphor Bronze plated with multiple layers of yellow & rose gold, 38mm x 38mm cushion-shaped, plated and finished in the UK
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
Sapphire Crystals to front (with anti-reflective) and back
Cold resin enamel with skeleton Fears hands, plated in yellow & rose gold, made in the UK
Time with subsidiary seconds at 6 o’clock
2 Year guarantee from date of purchase
Fears Bristol Leather Strap – crafted from premium calf leather made in Bristol
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.
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 ?
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.
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
I have been meaning to post this piece for sometime. This is a discovery I made thanks to the Instagram postings of “The Watchnerd” ( #watchnerd).
A company that amazingly, after reading around the British watch world, I have never come across before; and as you can see from the image above they produce stunning watches.
Charles Frodsham & Co. are the longest continuously trading firm of chronometer manufacturers in the world, and are synonymous with precision timekeeping instruments of the highest quality; watches, clocks, regulators and wristwatches.
Charles was born into a dynasty of clock, watch and chronometer makers on the 15 April 1810. His father William James Frodsham (1779-1850) and Hannah Lambert had ten children, five of whom were apprenticed to their father and later became horologists in their own right.
Charles was educated at Christ’s Hospital, the Bluecoat School in Newgate, London, and as a condition of the Foundation, was apprenticed at the age of fourteen to his father William. He showed early promise submitting two chronometers (numbers 1 & 2) to the 1830 Premium Trials at Greenwich, No.2 gaining the second Premium prize of £170. A further nine chronometers were then entered for trial in subsequent years, until the termination of the Premium Trials, in 1836.
As at the moment I have no other source of information other than the companies website I suggest you go directly there www.frodsham.com . I am now really curious to discover more about these watches which even seem to impress the famous Roger Smith.
Vertex is not the only British brand to make their watches in Switzerland, but when I was thinking of a watch that would make the perfect companion on my family ski trip, it was the first watch that came to mind.
The first reason being the new M100 is clearly a watch made to wear when doing stuff , a robust military style tool watch. Secondly, I liked the idea of taking the watch back home. Fortunately, Don Cochrane, the founder of the brand, was happy to lend me one.
Founded over a century ago by Claude Lyons in London’s jewellery heartland, Hatton Garden, Vertex quickly grew to become one of the most successful watch companies in Great Britain.
During the Second World War the British Military selected Vertex, along with eleven other leading watchmakers, to supply the army with a new watch built to an exacting bespoke design. The specifications were precisely what you would expect of a military watch – waterproof, luminous, regulated to chronometer level and rugged. On top of that, the dial needed to be black with arabic numerals to maximise legibility. This select group have became known as the ‘Dirty Dozen’ and are highly collectable.
Don Cochrane is the great-grandson of Claude Lyons and proud owner of Vertex Watches. His passion is to continue his great-grandfather’s legacy and pay tribute to these watches through the new Vertex M100, produced in Switzerland with significantly more attention paid to their manufacture than their predecessors made for the Ministry of Defence.
The details of the new watch are:
Custom ETA 7001 mechanical movement with rhodium finish and Cotes de Geneve decoration.
Moulded Super-LumiNova ® dial
Brushed steel case, box crystal glass, waterproof to 100m.
Hand wound with 42 hour reserve.
Black dial with arabic numerals to maximise legibility, in homage to the Vertex W.W.W watch of 1944.
Packaged in a Peli case with two straps – a black leather two-piece strap, with contrasting red lining and a bespoke nylon NATO-style strap in Admiralty Grey.
An attractive package, but there is a catch, to be able to buy one of these watches you either have to be the owner of one of the original watches or be referred.
The first time I actually saw and touched one of these rare watches was at the pre-Salon QP Watchmakers Club evening. Once over the initial excitement of seeing and handling one, the next thing you cannot fail to notice is the amazing lume on the numerals on the face, it is really very thick.
The M100 comes in a distinctly non-retro box, a Peli case, which you could realistically use as a travel case.
The watch arrives with two straps, a grey Nato and a more conservative black leather.
When I first discussed the watch with Don the first point we discussed was the 40mm case size, would a smaller case not be a more faithful reproduction of the orginal watch ? Maybe, was Don’s reply. Though as you will see from the images above the the more “modern” size wears well even on my scrawny wrist.
For a bit of variety Don also gave me a choice of a couple of their accessory nato straps. I picked one green and one a steel grey. These straps are made of nice thick fabric with Vertex branding on the keepers.
Unfortunately, for me I found these really nice straps too long for me. Which left me using the standard issue nato strap.
Thanks to its manual movement the M100 rewards the wearer with the opportunity for a moments contemplation when you reach for it in the morning to wind the mechanism. One of the reasons many of us enjoy owning a mechanical watch. Before leaving for Switzerland I wore the watch every day on the nato strap and could easily imagine being my “one watch”.
Whilst packing my bags for the week I wondered how the watch would suit my MN strap, after all both the watch and the strap are “military” style.
I think it worked really well, so kept it like that for a week. This combination proved to be the perfect companion on the ski trails; this week I was trying Nordic skiing for the first time. The watch being being really legible in all conditions. The “not huge” case allowing the watch to slip easily inside the different layers of winter clothing and elastic of the strap meaning I never had the crown digging into my wrist.
The style of the watch does not give the wearer the opportunity to show the world how wealthy/macho they are like some more instantly recognisable brands. The wearer does though get the satisfaction of being “in the know” being part of the Vertex community.
This “community” is the clue to Vertex brand. When I returned the watch to Don he explained this was how he wanted people to experience the brand, he did not want people to buy into the brand just by writing a big cheque. He wants people to have to make an effort to get one of his watches. This brings me back to why I started writing my blog in the first place. Why do people buy one watch rather than an other? As I have commented previously there are companies like Bremont that are constructing heritage through their various special editions and military collaborations. The Vertex approach is a more subtle, slow burn strategy. It will take longer to see whether it is a successful strategy, but assuming the watches Don produces are well accepted by the watch buying public and people do actual bother to make the effort required to possess one he could up with a solid brand based entirely on its own products; with a strong community of fans. From a purely business/marketing point of view I wonder what the numbers might need to be to make this strategy sustainable . It is however a very interesting approach that you could easily applied to other product categories.
So it was with some regret I gave the watch back, I had already been doing the “man-maths” to work out how to pay for this addition to my collection.
The good news is that Vertex are working on some further launches, which will enable a few more people to join the community. Watch this space if you can excuse this pun.
To find out more you can visit the Vertex website.