Tag Archives: British watch

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/

Kickstarter Watches

After closely watching the launch of the Hamtun H1 diver’s watch  and the Marloe Cherwell on Kickstarter I had a little browse to see if any other interesting British newcomers are on the horizon.

I have come across two new very nice looking and reasonably priced projects both interestingly using the tried and trusted Seiko NH35A movement.

The first being the 44mm TC9-9 Divers seventies style divers watch.

TC-9 Diver

This watch will be available in  brushed stainless steel or black PVD with Super Lume paint on hands and dial . An aluminium bezel insert with 12 hour markers or minute markers.  As you might expect for a diver’s watch  water resistance is quoted at 1000 feet.

There is at the time of writing the opportunity to get this watch with a pledge of £179 or more on Kickstarter.

The second watch is from London based Alkin, who I have to admit to finding our about from them giving me several likes on my Instagram page.

Alkin Model One

This Kickstarter project has not yet gone live, so if you are interested you should sign-up to receive a notification for when they launch.

From what I can glean form the various social media postings this handsome minimalist watch should feature a 42mm 316L stainless steel case in plain brushed steel or Black PVD, sapphire crystal, an exhibition case back and 100 metre water resistance. The initial Kickstarter price should be $225.



Want to start a (British) Watch Brand ?

The White dial Diver

Many people dream of starting their own business and I guess if you are reading this blog you might of even dreamt of starting a watch company. Whenever I meet people that have made the commitment I am always hugely impressed and slightly jealous of the the obvious satisfaction of what they are doing.

The first obstacle that comes up is “I wouldn’t know where to start!”

Well now thanks to Ross Davis of Hamtun watches this is no longer an excuse. On the Hamtun website he has posted a the process on his blog. The first episode is entitled “how to get funded on Kickstarter” published in July 16th. This has now been followed by a second post “Designing and Prototyping a watch”.

Here are the links. I hope this will give some of you the inspiration to take the leap.

https://hamtun.co/blogs/news/how-to-get-funded-on-kickstarter

https://hamtun.co/blogs/news/designing-and-prototyping-a-watch

Breaking Fears News

This week I was feeling pretty chuffed, Nicholas Bowman-Scargill e-mailed me with news of the latest announcement from Fears.  I had to keep this news to myself, which disappointed my son who is a Fears fan.

….and here it is

The “Pebble”

Commenting on the launch of the new colour, Managing Director Nicholas Bowman-Scargill says, “Building on the success of the initial two dial and five strap colours, the time felt right to introduce an additional elegant colour to the range. We took months to perfect both tone and finish, and the result is a watch that is perfectly understated. Clean and minimal, “Pebble” Grey is the Fears take on the classic silver dial, ideally suited for the modern man and woman.”

Colour aside this latest model is technically the same as the original white and blue watches.  A 38mm steel case using a Swiss Ronda quartz movement.

I must say it is great to see Fears confidently growing their range. I look forward to discussing the first year of the brand with Nicholas soon.

GasGasBones “Scramble”

By all accounts Carl Evans the man behind GasGasBones is one of the characters of the British watch world. I have not met him personally but I almost feel I know him through his social media posts and the forum on his website.

His company which has grown from making bespoke nylon straps over ten years ago to now supplying straps to brands such as Bremont and to offering his own range of watches – 6B.

The first 6B MKI came out in 2013 as a limited edition of twenty. This was followed by a further fifty MK2’s.

The latest watch which has prompted this post is the MK3 or “Scramble”

6B – MK3 “Scramble”

I think you will agree that Carl has come up with a very handsome looking watch.  I am impressed that at 37mm the case follows the move away from large watches. This  316L steel case houses an ETA 7750 automatic chronograph  movement.

I hope one day to actually meet Carl. In the meantime I suggest you visit his website.

http://www.gasgasbones.com/

 

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

The rise of the low-cost mechanical watch

 

Marloe Cherwell

It always happen, I read the FT most days when I’m having my lunch, simply because it is there in the office. Every once in a while an article on watches pops up. Well here is one I missed because I was travelling, this is real “sod’s law” especially as the article heavily features British watch brands Marloe and Farer, I don’t approve of bloggers just nicking other peoples work, especially that of professional journalists so her is a link to the article.

https://www.ft.com/content/beeab33e-1dd6-11e7-b7d3-163f5a7f229c

Enjoy

Farer GMT Automatics

I had been putting off commenting on this really nice range of British designed automatics until I managed to hold one. This opportunity was due this Wednesday, but real life has got in the way. So as to not  leave comment any longer I thought I should add this quick update.

Farer is a new brand that has managed to move quickly from a range of nice looking quartz powered watches to a broader  range including automatics broaden their appeal to the enthusiast market.

Lander GMT Automatic

The latest GMT automatics stay faithful to the colourful neo/retro design style established at the launch of the brand.  All named after historical British explorers.

The right “on trend” (or classic, depending on your point of view) 39.5mm case is made of 316L high grade stainless steel. Highly polished all over bar the top of the lugs which have been brushed to offset them from the rest of the case and polished rim.

The GMT’s use the 21 jewel ETA 2893-2 ‘Top Grade’ mechanical movement – with dual time functionality for use in two time zones, Incabloc shock protection system and a 42-hour power reserve.

The GMT movement

The GMT range consists of three models. The Lander shown above and the Oxley and

Oxley GMT
Ponting GMT

All the watches are priced at £1,175.

Quartz or not to Quartz

I have several quartz watches including my first British watch a Garrard my Mother bought me for my 21st, now sadly in need of repair. I have always regarded them subconsciously inferior to watch with mechanical movements.

My Garrard – Damaged

I think part of my prejudice steps from the idea that a mechanical mechanism will last forever and that quartz movements are somehow less robust. But as my Garrard demonstrates they just keep going, as long as you change the battery. So this objection would seem a little invalid. So I  am starting to look at the great variety of watches out there.

One brand instrumental in me changing my ideas was I think the recently re-launched Fears. When the re-founder Nicholas Bowman-Scargill explained to me he had chosen a quartz movement as the best way of representing the heritage of the brand I surprised myself at accepting his point of view.

With this new “insight” I am now able to open my mind to consider many more British brands more positively. One of which being Omologato who marketing an interesting collection of retro/motoring styled chronographs. Their latest model popped up in my inbox this week and it is so “British” I had to post it her. The watch is the Hesketh.

 

Omologato Hesketh

The watch features a 44.5 mm case housing a Miyota OS20 movement., for the less than extortionate price of £ 289.