Tag Archives: british made

Fears Brunswick

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.

Brunswick inspiration

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 box

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.

Brunswick on grey perlon

Having said that I was also quiet keen also on the versaltilty of the brown version as well.

Brunswick and brown perlon

Then if you want to feel even more summery, you could try a brighter perlon – green maybe.

Brunswick on green perlon

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.

Brunswick on blue leather

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.

 

Time4aPint – Fears

You might have noticed from my instagram feed that I am currently reviewing the Fears Brunswick.

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

 

 

Launching a Watch Brand

I am full of admiration for the people I have met who have launched their own watch brand. I have spoken at length with several about the trials and tribulations before watch they want to present to the world is ready to be marketed.

Two of the companies that have emerged since I have been blogging are Hamtun and Marloe, neither of which I have had the the chance to meet in person. These two companies both chose to fund their watches via the crowdfunding website Kickstarter. Hamtun with their value divers watch, the H1 and Marloe the hand wound Cherwell.

The thing both brands have is their founders have chosen to give some insight into the design process and why they made certain decisions on their company websites.

Interesting references for anyone thinking of following in their footsteps.

In this piece Ross Davis discuss why they chose the movements they have so for. https://hamtun.co/blogs/news/watch-movements-we-use

And then below is a video from Marloe watches discussing the design process.

 

Maybe these items and those that follow might inspire more British brands to start 🙂

 

 

 

Charles Frodsham & Co

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).

Dial detail – Charles Frodsham wristwatch

 

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.

Bremont Townhouse

Yesterday evening I was lucky enough to attend Bremont’s Townhouse event in London. This evening is the occasion during which Bremont present their new watches for 2018.

The evening kicked of with a presentation by the Arctic explorer and Bremont ambassador, Ben Saunders. As with other similar talks given by Bremont ambassadors, Ben gave a really interesting talk which make you feel like a super coach potato. Ben, with the help of Nick English, also managed to explain elegantly the justification for his relationship with Bremont. An explorer needs a reliable accurate watch to aid them with navigation which is especially important in the featureless terrain of the Arctic. The watch needs to be mechanical as quartz watches become less reliable in the extreme cold. An interesting fact I did not know.

The presentation of the watches was done with the usual Bremont style. I would only criticize the level of lighting, the low lights made it difficult to see the details of the watches well.

The star watch of the evening was the new Supermarine Endurance, the watch Ben used in the Arctic.

Supermarine Endurance
Supermarine Endurance

The second most eye catching new model for me was the U2/51-Jet.

Bremont U2/51-Jet

This is an update of the existing popular U2 model with the addition of the vintage lume previously seen on the limited edition P-51 watch.

I then managed a quick try of the new S-501 divers watch which adds the more vintage styling of the S-300 series to the larger watch. This change works very well as you can see below.

S-501

I finished off my quick visit with a quick look at the understated Airco range, in particular the new white and blue dialled variants.

Blue Dial Airco

It blue the colour for this year ?

A big thank you to the Bremont for yet another well organised and enjoyable event. I hope to look at these and other new watches more in depth in future posts.

Pinion Atom etc

After what seems a relatively quiet time in terms of news from Pinion, Piers Berry has made several announcements recently.

The most imminent being the availability of the “new entry point to the Pinion family” the Atom.

Pinion Atom

The Atom inherits all of the design and production qualities seen in the previous watches in the Pinion collection, but priced at £790 (£658.33 ex.VAT).

The Atom is sized at 41mm diameter, with a slim height of 11mm and is encased in 316L stainless steel with a bead-blasted finish.

The design of the dial follows the graphic code established by earlier models and presents typographic numerals in white, coated with SuperLuminova and contrasting radium colouring. The watch is water resistant to 100-metres.

Unlike all other Pinion watches, the Atom uses the Japanese automatic  calibre (Miyota 9015) which provides accurate timekeeping and a 42-hour power reserve. The reverse of the watch features a solid steel case back that is engraved with the Atom motif and individually numbered.

The Atom is built and tested in England. The watch is available from the Pinion website http://www.pinionwatches.com

Then coming later in the year will be a watch in a new material for Pinion; the TT their first watch in titanium which almost halves the weight of the case when compared to the steel models.

Pinion TT

Weight aside the TT has the familiar design elements of the Pinion range, as you can see on this prototype above. A brushed finish 42mm case with an exhibition back. Offering 10 atm (100 meters) water resistance.

The movement inside being an ETA 2893-2 with a 24 hour hand (second time zone /GMT). The first GMT from Pinion. I am really looking forward to see the final version.

Then this week came the very interesting announcement. Pinion will return to offering bronze watches. After launching the Pinion brand  in 2013 with bronze watches at the core of his range Piers judged that bronze was becoming too mainstream and decided not to offer them anymore. He has had a re-think, done a survey of friends and clients and decided to return to bronze in 2018 with a re-worked Axis II automatic. The interesting he will this time use a bronze, rather than steel, crown. This I remember being a point of discussion, personally originally thought a bronze crown was the the best fit, now after a year with my Pure bronze I am a big fan of the steel crown. I find it links visually very well with the hands and strap fittings. I will reserve final judgement until I have seen the new version.

2018 looks like another interesting year for Pinion.

 

London Watch Week

I don’t think last week was officially know as “watch week” but that is how it turned out for me, a few events growing out of the Salon QP.

Although maybe “week” might not be quiet the right definition as for me everything started mid-October when I met Nicholas Bowman-Scargill for a catch-up. We had first met a year earlier, before he re-launched the Fears brand at the Salon QP 2016. Nicholas told me all about his first year and the three new watches he would be announcing at this years show.  He revealed these in order of significance. The first being an additional colour to the existing Redcliff range this time a pretty striking Passport Red.

Redcliff Passport Red

Next I was expecting a “mechanical Redcliff”, which seemed to be the obvious development. But no, the next watch Nicholas showed me was the quartz Redcliff Continental. The Continental version has a window just the “6” position enabling the wearer to display a second time zone. A very useful feature for international travellers or people with far flung families.

The Continental Range

Then came the news I had been expecting the Fears mechanical watch, not however as I was imagining a Redcliff but a completely new watch – the Brunswick the first mechanical watch for the new Fears.

The Brunswick concept & inspiration

At this time Nicholas was only able to show me a drawing of the watch as the prototype had yet been delivered.  The finished watch was due to be shown at the Watchmakers Club evening before the Salon QP. I will dedicate a post to this interesting new watch.

This brings me to the start of “Watch Week”; the first event being the Watchmaker’s Club “Night Before” evening in a private club in London on Wednesday.  The Watchmakers Club is a new platform, intended to bring watch collectors and industry experts together via intimate, exclusive events and regular social gatherings. The team behind this unique organisation consists of watchmakers, independent brands, industry influencers and journalists.

It all started in 2012, Andreas Strehler exhibited for the first time at SalonQP in London. On the night before the opening of SalonQP, he invited a few friends and watch enthusiasts to share a drink, talk about watches and the world in general. The idea of The Night Before was born.

On the first evening only a handful of what would become a band of friends showed up at the Lansdowne Club in Mayfair. Over the years, The Night Before became an institution: A gathering of interesting people interested in the world of watches and as the guest list began to grow the Lansdowne Club became too small to host the event.

This year the event was held at The Libary in St Martins Lane. There were two sections, one of which, upstairs, was dedicated the British brands, Fears, Garrick and Pinion. It was a great opportunity firstly to see the Fears Brunswick and Pinions new Atom finally in the metal.

Pinion Atom

The Atom doesn’t disappoint at all. As you can see the design clearly says, Pinion. As we have come to expect, Piers presented a really nice well built watch. Differently to previous Pinions you first notice the slimmer (11mm) steel case, made possible by the use of the Japanese Miyota 9105 automatic movement. Using this movement also enables Pinion to offer a watch at a much lower price point than we are used to from this brand, £790. It will be very interesting to see how this bet goes.

After Fears and Pinion I managed to squeeze through to the table where Garrick’s Simon Michlmayr  was displaying their watches, I was especially keen to see the new S1. This watch is built by master watchmaker, Craig Baird, and finished entirely by hand. This is Garrick’s most complicated timepiece to date, featuring a skeletonised dial and incorporating a power reserve indicator. Only five S1 timepieces will be made per annum.

Sketch of Garrick S1

Unfortunately due lack of space and light I couldn’t get a really decent picture so to give an idea of how the watch is I have taken this picture from Garrick website.

Giles Ellis of Schofield was also present that night along with Simon Cudd, of Schofield + Cudd straps, neither was displaying their products other than those they were wearing. I did manage a dingy peek at Schofield latest watch – the Telemark.

All in all it was a very pleasant evening but being a “school night” I  thought it wise to make my way home.

After “the Night Before” comes the actual night- the first evening of this years Salon QP. The big difference between the two evenings was the lighting.

I managed to say hello again to Simon Michlmayr and to get a shot of the Garrick range.

The Garrick range

I then found the two British stands together firstly, the Fears Departure lounge that was proving very popular with the new Brunswick attracting a great deal of praise. Then next door Schofield overseen by Giles Ellis himself and Simon Cudd with his straps. Again thanks to better light I managed to get some more useful pictures.

Schofield Telemark
Schofield Daymark

After visiting the Brits I went a little of topic and had quick chat with two brands that I have admired for a while Habring from Austria and Switzerlands Czapek both really nice and like everyone super enthusiastic about their work.

On Saturday I visited the Salon again this time with my sons, in the hope of planting the seed of an interest in watches early. They were very impressed by the chocolate offered at the Fears Departure lounge.

Salon QP – 2017

The highlight  of this time of year for British watch enthusiasts for several years has is the Salon QP watch exhibition in the Saatchi Gallery.

Despite there being less brands showing this year I am still looking forward to some announcements from British brands.

Nicholas Bowman-Scargill of Fears watches has told me they will be announcing three new watches. Since their launch at last year’s Salon QP, Fears have so far added a grey variant to their existing bue and white faced Redcliffe watch. Nicholas assures me the new launches will be more than just an additional colour.

Then following alphabetical order we come to Garrick who will be announcing two new  watches firstly an addition to the Portsmouth family. This will feature a guilloché dial, offered in two variants, grey (pictured below) or silver.

Portsmouth with guilloché dial

Then, Garrick will unveil a totally new timepiece, the S1. This watch is built by master watchmaker, Craig Baird, and finished entirely by hand. This is Garrick’s most complicated timepiece to date, featuring a skeletonised dial and incorporating a power reserve indicator. Only five S1 timepieces will be made per annum, conferring a high degree of exclusivity.

Moving along the alphabet, after being absent from last year’s show Schofield from Sussex will be back. I am really looking forward to finally seeing the Daymark watch in the metal. We should also get a chance to see the new version of the Bronze Beater, that will be available in raw un-treated metal or chemically aged.

The Bronze Beater 2

From the images I have seen, I assume I am going to prefer the “raw” version. As well as watches we will get to see the new quirky range of straps from the joint endeavour with Simon Cudd – Schofield + Cudd.

Then no longer the alphabet we come to Pinion. I am covering them last as they will not be exhibiting at the Salon. They will however be showing their new Atom model (below) at the Watchmaker’s Club event held on the Wednesday before.

Pinion Atom

So I for one am still looking forward to Salon QP running from November 2nd to 4th at the Saatchi Gallery, King’s Rd, London