Tag Archives: British watch

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.

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

Marloe Haskell – announced

As I wrote earlier in the week the latest hand wound watch from Marloe, the Haskell, was announced on Thursday and it looks a very impressive effort.

Marloe Haskell – blue

The big difference for Marloe is this watch uses a Swiss movement; the  2804-2 manual winding mechanical movement . It is a small movement at around ∅25.6mm and 3.35mm thick when fully wound will run for over 40 hours. Despite this small size the 2804-2 still beats at 28,800 bph.

Marloe tell us the Haskell was designed with the modern day adventurer in mind, whether an urban wanderer, working through the bustling city commute, or a world traveller trekking through new environments; the Haskell is designed to be with you every step of the way.

The 40mm case, which offers 100m water resistance, has a subtle barrel profile with robust yet elegant lugs; thick, flat sapphire crystal with anti-reflective coating; signature Antarctica domed caseback; a big, solid concave double o-ring crown .

The Haskell Range

The Haskell is currently available in four colours all costing £995.

 

 

Bamford Mayfair Watch

Bamford, the well known London based customisers of high end watches has for some time provided a “service watch” for their clients for use whilst their own watch is being worked on.

In two weeks they will make these watches available for sale.

Bamford Mayfair Range

The Bamford Mayfair range of watches are available in a number of combinations. From a choice in dial colour, bezel, coating and type of strap, you can choose a Bamford Mayfair to match your own taste.

The 40mm case will be made of military grade titanium. The movement will be a trusty Miyota calibre 2035.

For £425 you can look like you are having your Rolex customised.

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

 

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.

 

Freedom to Exist

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”.

 

FTE40:02

Their Story

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 Watches

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.

However

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.

Good luck

https://www.freedomtoexist.com/