Tag Archives: british luxury

Fears Brunswick

As a promised here is a more specific look at the newly announced Fears Brunswick.

After quietly getting on with launching his reborn company around the original three watch Redcliff range and the fourth “pebble grey” variant Nicholas Bowman-Scargill has been dropping hints of a new watch since early October. Despite my questions he would not admit they would be launching a mechanical watch.

I concluded therefore this years Salon QP would see the launch of a mechanical Redcliff, probably with a Swiss movement. I thought this would follow the original Fears philosophy of good quality watches at a reasonable price. It was with this in mind I met Nicholas in mid-October for a catch-up and hopefully news of the new watches.

Over couple of beers and a general catch-up Nicholas then introduced me to the new watches, A “passport red” Redcliff, quartz, the Redcliff Continental,  again quartz. After covering the merits of these watches as worthy additions to the Fears range came the news I had been waiting for – the mechanical watch, the Brunswick.

At this point the actual prototype was not ready, but is was able to see the design. Here it is with the vintage Fears that inspired the design.

The Brunswick design and inspiration

What  a surprise, a cushion cased, hand wound watch. But still difficult to appreciate from the drawings. I would have to wait until the “Night Before” of the Watchmakers Cub, by which time the prototype should be ready.

So here it is on my wrist.

Fears Brunswick Prototype

As you can see the drawings did not do the actual watch justice. This is a very handsome piece that rightly was attracting compliments from everyone that saw it at the Watchmakers evening. A difficult public to win over.

The top grade ETA 7001 manual wind movement is installed in a 38mm cushion case, made in the UK from 316L stainless steel. The dial is cold resin enamel, which together with the thermally blued skelton hands are also made in this country. The front glass and exhibition case back are sapphire crystal. Around the exhibition back there is enough space for engraving and buyers will also have the option to engrave the movement. The final touch of class is the strap made from calf skin tanned by Bristol company Thomas Ware & Sons.

The rather un-English sounding name “Brunswick” is a reference to the address of the Fears export warehouse in Brunswick Square, Bristol.

Nicholas planned an initial batch of 14 watches, this being the number of the building in Brunswick Square. However, the reception of the watch at the Salon QP has been so good this will be increased.

For the moment this lovely watch is available for £1750 (inc. VAT) directly from Fears.

Considering the quoted water resistance of 100m this could be the “one watch” so many people say they are looking for. Ideally for all occasions, even beach holidays if you put it on a waterproof strap, maybe a perlon.

Well done Fears

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bremont 1918 – another point of view

You might remember in the past I have commented on Bremont’s heritage building. This is clearly done to increase the perceived value of their watches once they come to market.

After writing my last update on the launch of the 1918 limited editions I came across this video on Youtube. This American gentleman seems to have missed the point somewhere. He goes on about how outrageously expensive these watches are. In a way that suggests Bremont might be stealing food from orphans. Surely a company has a right to offer for sale a product of this nature at whatever price the think appropriate. It is for the market to decide if they are right or not.

If we see lots of these watches discounted in  a year or so we will know he was right.

Bremont 1918 Limited Editions

On October 4th, Bremont held a lavish event at the Imperial War museum to launch the 1918 limited edition three watch range commemorating the founding of the Royal Air Force one hundred years ago.

The 1918 Collection

 

All watches feature a Bremont decorated rotor featuring metal and wood veneer from four original RAF aircraft which flew in WWI and WWII. 43mm Stainless steel, white gold or rose gold Trip-Tick® case construction. Water resistant to 10 ATM, 100 metres. Alligator strap with pin buckle to complement case material. Limited to 275 pieces Steel and 75 in each gold.

Movement

Modified calibre 13 ¼’’’ BE-16AE automatic chronometer with 26 jewels, Glucydur balance and Anachron balance spring, with Nivaflex 1 mainspring. Rated frequency of 28,800 A/h with 42-hour minimum power reserve. Bremont decorated rotor featuring metal and wood veneer from 4 original RAF aircraft which flew in WWI and WWII.

Case

Stainless steel, white gold or rose gold in Bremont’s Trip-Tick® construction. Case diameter 43mm, height 17.2mm, lug width 22mm.

Caseback

Stainless steel, white gold or rose gold case back with integrated flat sapphire crystal, 5 stainless steel/white gold/rose gold screws with polished heads.

Dial

Opalin matt metal dial, applied indexes, solid gold/blued nickel hands with Super-LumiNova®.

As we have now come to expect from Bremont they have a great video explaining the association with the Royal Air Force.

A percentage of proceeds from the sale of the 1918 will go to the Royal Air Forces Association (RAFA), which has supported current and former RAF personnel for almost 90 years.

J.W. Benson

Having the watch bug, like many similar diseases, can be expensive. The solution is more often than not is to resort to elaborate man maths justifying the most recent acquisition. There is however an alternative; buy a used watch. This solution can offer some considerable savings especially if you broaden your search away from more recent watches and especially from the obvious brands.

Luckily for Grinidgetime, British brands offer considerable opportunities as many have dropped by the wayside with the passing of time. One such brand is J.W, Benson of Regents Street, London. I first really noticed these watches whilst searching for Smiths on e-Bay. One particular model caught my eye. The Tropical with a Smiths movement and a Dennison case. The historical British watchmaking brands in one watch – bingo. Unfortunately the prices being asked are starting to look expensive.

J.W. Benson “Tropical”

J W Benson originated in 1847, founded by James William Benson and Samuel Suckley Benson. They were regarded as one of Victorian London’s most prestigious retail jewellers and they also manufactured their own watch movements. Benson had prestigious premises at 43 Cornhill and, when the original partnership was dissolved and James William Benson took over the running of the business, they also opened a branch at 33 Ludgate Hill.

J.W. Benson – Ludgate Hill

A further branch was added at glamorous 25 Old Bond Street and JW Benson proudly boasted an elite client base made up of both British and European royalty and a selection of well heeled industrialists and business figures including the King of Siam, the King of Portugal, the King of Denmark, the Emperor of Japan, the Tsar of Russia and the King of Greece. JW Benson also supplied watches to Queen Victoria and the Prince of Wales. Throughout its history, J.W. Benson Ltd was also official watchmaker to the Admiralty & the War Department.

During W.W.I. the factory was bombed, destroying thousands of timepieces and from this point on the company no longer manufactured its own watches, but still continued as a retailer. The timepieces bearing the company name used high quality Swiss movements supplied by manufacturers such as, Vertex (Revue), Cyma/Tavannes, Longines and by the English maker, S. Smith & Sons.

J. W. Benson Ltd continued until 1973 at which time the name was sold to the Royal jewellers, Garrards.

 

Now back to my recent e-Bay find a 1960’s J.W Benson with a 17 manual wind Swiss movement.

My Benson

 

When the watch arrived in the post I was very pleasantly surprised. The condition was in much better condition than I expected. The 34mm case, in what I assume is gold plate is in great condition apart from a few scratches.

The movement

The movement looks in great condition, though I suspect is in need of a clean as it is running slow at the moment.

JW Benson is an interesting brand with some really nice watches in the back catalogue. Definitely worth hunting out – happy hunting

Daniels’ Space Travellers

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.

Space Travellers – photo Sothebys

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.”

 

Farer Acqua Compressor

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 Endeavour

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.

Endeavor
The Helca
The Leven

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.

 

Bremont – Norton Evening

This week I was lucky enough to be invited to Stuart Garner talk about the re-launch of Norton Motorcycles and their co-operation with Bremont watches at the Bremont boutique in London.

If you have been reading my previous entries you might will have realised this for me is the perfect combination of my interests, not only watches and motorcycles but British watches and motorcycles all presented to me on my birthday.

Stuart Garner – Norton Motorcycles

I have for sometime been sceptical about brand partnerships as some of the connections seem a little tenuous. At  a superficial level I had already accepted there might be justifiable link between these two companies, after all many watch companies are involved in motorsport.

In the quarter of an hour before the start of Stuart’s talk began I had the opportunity to chat with Simon Skinner, an actual motorcycle designer, the person responsible for the Norton V4RR.

Norton V4RR – the actual TT Bike

Simon, or Skinner as Stuart refers to him, is one of those people clearly doing a job he really enjoys and is very proud of what Norton have achieved in such a short time.

I also had the opportunity to try the limited edition Bremont V4 Limited edition watch.

Bremont Norton V4

This watch is a limited edition of 200 for general sale. It combines numerals similar to the classic Norton typeface with gold chronograph borders, a gold Norton logo, and again housed in a beautifully polished Trip-Tick® three-piece case.  It uses a modified calibre 13 1⁄4’’’ BE-50AE automatic chronometer with 42-hour minimum power reserve.

The back of the Bremont Norton V4

The display back shows off the special rotor, replicating the motorbike’s disc brake, very nicely.

The watch has a coated polished stainless steel case of Bremont Trip-Tick® construction. It is water resistant to 10 ATM, 100 metres. The racing strap isPerforated black calf-leather with red stitch and a polished stainless steel pin buckle.  This is the second watch celebrating the relationship between the two companies, the first one coming out in 2009.

So you are asking what do the two companies have in common. Well they both are making a big effort to re-build a skills base in the UK in two industries that had been pretty much wiped out. This is something that I  think most people would agree is worthwhile. Both companies are especially doing this through the development of apprentices. The Norton approach of getting their training scheme to be self funding by producing the spoked wheels struck me as being particularly interesting.

Finally came the highlight of the evening. firing up the TT bike outside the Mayfair showroom.

This is my recording of the sound, unfortunately my second best, my big finger cancelled the best one by mistake.

Thank you

 

 

 

 

 

 

George Daniels Millenium – Sold

Sorry to advise you a little late but today at Sotheby’s one of George Daniels watches came up for sale with an estimated price between £80.000 and £120.000.

George Daniels Millenium – photo Sothebys
George Daniels
A RARE WHITE GOLD AUTOMATIC CENTRE SECONDS WRISTWATCH WITH TWO-TONE GOLD DIAL, DATE AND DANIELS SLIM CO-AXIAL ESCAPEMENT MILLENNIUM 1999
• automatic nickel lever movement, slim Co-Axial escapement, mono-metallic free-sprung balance, gold guilloche rotor, the movement plate with eccentric outer rim engraved with foliate decoration • silvered engine-turned dial, eccentric yellow gold chapter ring for time display with Roman numerals, yellow gold date ring with Arabic numerals, silver cartouches on either side signed Daniels London, yellow gold Daniels hands • 18k white gold case, yellow gold winding crown positioned between 7 and 8 • case, dial and movement signed• case hallmarked for London 1999, maker’s mark GD and engraved AB99
diameter 37 mm
The watch sold for £187,500 (including buyer’s premium)
So if you have one you can sit comfortably in the knowledge they fetch good money !

Meerson Mutiny Chronograph

 

Meerson Chrono Mutiny

Alexandre Meerson has been drip, dripping hints about his latest watch for a couple of months – we now have a more complete picture. The limited edition,  Mutiny Chronograph.

 

Why Mutiny ? This is Alexandre’s explanation.

The name comes from the idea that this watch defies conventions and the status quo in modern watchmaking. The Mutiny Chrongraph expresses that:

  • Luxury does not need to carry an artificial “luxe” price
  • New is good – with the vast majority of luxury watches having been designed before 1977.. our industry has become a world of icons that only evolve very slowly every year
  • Luxury is personalisation – yes you can build your own watch and express your individual sense of style
  • Luxury is a relationship with the owner – Design is a collaboration between the creator, the owner and the artisan – by removing unnecessary intermediaries we build a direct relationship with our clients and believe in involving the owners in the design

The design of the Mutiny is simple,  balancing style and function in a timeless style. The wire lugs reminding you of the trench watches of the First World War.

Chronograph  watches lend themselves to personalisation, another key feature of the Mutiny. The  sub dials and counters,  the hands  offer  many opportunities for self expression.

Here are some of the extensive personalisation options offered:

  1. The Case:  polished steel, can be finished in different ways, as well as treated to a superb black shade. Special versions can be made to order in silver or even vermeil.
  2. The Dial: pick any colour, design a pattern or symbol. The chronograph sub-dials lend themselves beautifully to contrasts and patterns.
  3. The bespoke Straps: made to your exact measures: pick the leather or fabric you love, from our extensive selection or from your own wardrobe. Sign your style with matching or contrasted stitching.
  4. The Hands: they are subtle details, several colours are available, as further accents of your style.
  5. Engraving: each watch is individually numbered. Make your watch even more personal, by drawing a pattern on the case or designing a symbolic message in the case-back. Or keep it secret on the inside, as a locket.
  6. The travel pouch: personalise it to match the bespoke strap, and add the owners name or initials.

From a technical perspective, the Swiss precision mechanical movement delivers the heartbeat and playful soul of the watch. For this watch, Meerson needed a hard-working, robust movement. So they selected the Concepto manufacture to deliver the AM-0788 – a Swiss calibre of traditional heritage and design that has a superb reputation for accuracy and reliability.

It is based on a clone of what was the Valjoux movement and is now known as the 7750 ETA movement. The first Meerson Chronograph in the 1980s was powered by the Valjoux . It is a fabulous “workhorse” of a movement, wonderfully made by Concepto in its interpretation (calibre 99001). Alexander wanted to retain this spirit, but made by a refined manufacture, hence why they use it.

The last question that comes to mind is the origin of the name “Mutiny”. To this I received a more complicated explanation than I expected.

Meerson are taking orders for the Mutiny Chronograph through this secure website. The watch starts at £4,475 (£3,730 excluding UK VAT). A deposit of £500 will secure your order in the next manufacturing run, for worldwide delivery from October 2017.

I am really looking forward to seeing one of these in the metal.

Redbar London – Bremont

I have been meaning to join the regular monthly meetings of the Redbar group in London for sometime but for some reason or another I always had some other commitment. There was no excuse for missing this one . Firstly, it was a presentation of the 2017 range and secondly it was being held 10 minutes walk from my office. I am very pleased I “put myself out” it was a really enjoyable evening.

Nick & Giles English at Bremont House
Nick & Giles English at Bremont House

Bremont had decided rather than attend the SIHH in Basel they would hold their own event in London, which considering the SIHH is a Swiss watch event seems entirely logical and probably a good bit cheaper.

Before attending the event i had already seen quiet a lot of images of the new 2017  Bremont range – I was really looking forward to see the new  40mm S300/301 Supermarine range of diver’s watches. Firstly, because I like diver’s watches and because of their 40mm case size. I felt maybe my thoughts about a move to smaller cases might be proving correct.

However on entering the event the first watches I saw were the new motoring related models made in collaboration with Jaguar and Norton. An additional non-horological item being the new Norton V4 motorcycle looking amazing. Bremont will be making 250 watches for owners of these limited edition bike.

The new white faced Jaguar MKII watches
The new white faced Jaguar MKII watches
Norton V4
Norton V4

The main event was held on the next floor, which  was were the new Supermarine  and Airco ranges were on display.  I had to wait a little time to get my opportunity to try the watches for myself.

Supermarine S300
Supermarine S300

The Supermariner S300 on the leather strap was my favourite of the new collection, the perfect “wear all the time” watch. The size  and weight is perfect, the date window is normal and it is rated to 300m.  If I have a doubt it is that the design is pretty “classic” for the type of watch, I wonder if Bremont could have tried to make it more distinctive without loosing its appeal.  The only difference I can spot between the S300 and the S301 is the use of the numbers 12,6 and 3 on the S300, the S301 relying on batons. Both watches are available on a steel bracelet, a Nato as well as the calf leather shown in the photo above.

The new  40mm Airco range consisting of two watches, the Mach1 and the Mach 2. Both watches have straight forward three handed dial with a date. The difference being in the finish and the position of the date window.

Airco Mach 1

Like the S300/301 these are both very useful and comfortable do it all watches featuring the a 40mm version of Bremont’s Trip-Tick cases. The Mach 2 is proposed as the slightly more formal “officer’s watch”. i hope to get a chance to have a closer look at both of these watches in the future.

But apart from having a chance to chat to other watch enthusiasts openly about watches the highlight of the evening was a quick chat with Giles English, during which we managed  to cover  the challenges of producing these new  40mm watches and the currently difficulty for luxury watches, especially the larger Swiss brands.  As always it is always a great pleasure to meet people that have followed their dream and launched their own watch brand.

I have now broken the Redbar ice, I will definitely make more of an effort to attend future events.