I saw the “Watch It” show announced on Instagram, but due to me being based in London and the show falling at a particularily busy time for me family wise I was unable to attend.
So the first “Watch It” show, a spin off of the Watchitallabout watch blog, was held on November 9th in Rugby. The idea to being to offer an event for watch enthusiasts in the Midlands. And by all accounts was a great success. I am therefore pleased to have found a report of the event by the very amusing gentlemen from the Scottish Watch blog.
During this edition of the podcast there are some interesting short interviews/chats with a few of our favourite British brands (Pinion and Zero West) as well as several more I was less familiar with. Definitely worth a listen.
First of all apologies for my “radio silence” over the summer. No excuse really other than the usual “non-watch” commitments in the real world.
Starting anything again after a little time can often be a little daunting, there are always reasons to put it off again. Well today I re-started two activities I have been putting off. Firstly,I have just returned from my first motorcycle ride for a couple of years, just a couple of miles around my area but satisfying feeling my intuitive operation of the controls returning.
So now here I am back at Grinidgetime, my return to the keyboard prompted by several announcements of new watches from the British value brand Christopher Ward. My particular attention was caught by three watches in particular, produced apparently with the approval of the UK Ministry of Defence. There is a watch for each of the three arms of the British military, Army, Navy and Air Force. A remarkably similar initiative to Bremont’s Armed Forces collection launched earlier this year.
Taking the watches one by one I will start with the Sandhurst, named after the Royal Military of the same name. The watch follows the now almost generic design of the Smiths W10. This modern re-interpretation comes in a 38mm brushed steel case with a rugged and precise Swiss-made automatic movement – a chronometer-certified version of the Sellita SW200-1. Usefully, this watch has a 150m depth rating.
It is very difficult not to compare this watch to the Bremont Broadsword. Both watches offer C.O.S.C certified movements. The Bremont is slightly larger at 40mm with a lower depth rating of 100m. The big difference being the price,The Sandhurst is offered at between £795 to £895 depending on which strap option you choose. The Bremont Broadsword £2595.
The next service to cover is the Royal Navy, here Christopher Ward offer the C65 Dartmouth, named after the famous naval officers training academy. The design is inspired by the Omega Seamaster 300 ‘Big Triangle’ – initially known as the Royal Navy 0552, a Ministry of Defence commissioned piece that saw the first appearance of the popular inverted triangle. The Dartmouth uses a 41mm brushed steel case and the same Sellita movement as the Sandhurst, the watch is also rated at 150m.
For people looking for a Royal Navy watch the Christopher Ward offer differs significantly from the equivalent Bremont Argonaut. The Bremont having a slightly larger case (42mm) and higher depth rating of 300m. Again though there is a significant price difference. The Dartmouth at £795/895 compared to the Argonaut at £2795.
Then we get to the youngest of the three services, the Royal Air Force. This watch is called the Cranwell, named after the famous training college, it finds inspiration in two of the most definitive pilot’s watches ever made: the ‘6B/346’ models produced by Jaeger-LeCoultre and IWC. Again the movement is same Sellita as the other two housed in a 41mm steel “light-catcher case.
For Royal Air Force fans Bremont have their mono-pusher model, The Arrow; again at a significantly higher cost £3595 against £795/895.
This collection of military watches from Christopher Ward clearly offers an alternative to watch buyers wanting to show their support of one on Britain’s armed forces. The advantage being the cost and the use of the single arms insignia on th ecase back. The Bremont range with the Argonaut and Arrow do offer more features but at a price.
Last year the brand Newmark was re-launched very honestly on Kickstarter . The first watch being the 6BB military chronograph and the HS, a white dialled variant. Both watches being pretty well received by enthusiasts.
Now after what seems a remarkably short period of time they have announced a second watch the 71 sports watch, again based on an historical model from the brand. Like the previous watch this model will be made available via a Kickstarter offer launching on June 18th at an initial price of £299, go tohttp://newmark71.newmarkwatchcompany.com/
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.
I first came across Zero West on Instagram. Posts promising watches with links to many things I like to read about, fast boats, Spitfires and café racers. The final detail that tweaked my interest was the fact this company was based in an old boat house in Emsworth, Hampshire – an important place in the youth of yours truly. We exchanged some messages, Zero West promising to tell me more about their project when they were ready.
After several more intriguing Instagram postings the moment arrived; Andrew, one of the founders, was going to be in London and suggested we meet so he could tell me about their watches.
The story starts in much the way many of these do, two friends , Andrew and Graham, a common interest, unlike many of these conversations they actually started a company. Their advantage being Graham is an engineer and Andrew a designer, the ideal combination of complimentary skills.
At our meeting I was surprised when Andrew brought out not just not just one watch but several. I say several as Andrew has asked me not to discuss the whole collection, I think though I can safely they cover many of the themes outlined above.
So I will stick to the watch in hand, the first to market the Longitude, which if everything goes to plan goes on sale next week.
My first impression strapping the watch to my wrist was gosh, this is a big watch, at 44mm it equals the Schofield I reviewed earlier this year. For some reason though the case design makes it feel bigger. Then bringing the watch to my ear – almost silence, you barely hear a tick or the sound of the automatic movement through the hefty case.
The polished case is of an interesting construction in that the lugs are mounted by two screws to each side. It is certainly not a watch that goes unobserved. This first of all put me off a little as I was wondering when I might fell comfortable wearing something so large and visible. After a few days through I started to feel much more comfortable finding that the watch works really well with my predominantly blue office wardrobe, thanks to the heavy blue leather strap. The straps are also made by Zero West, after approaching several suppliers Graham decided he could make them himself, and a beautiful job he does to. My only criticism being a lightly large keeper.
The gentlemen from Zero West explained that the design of this watch was inspired by the H4 of the British horological innovator John Harrison.
Clearly it is not a straight replica. The black and white dial uses the same roman numerals and blue enameled hands. The floral decoration around the original dial have instead been replicated on the case back.
In addition the dial features the date 22/10/1884 under the number six, this being the date of the International Meridian Conference in Washington. during which Greenwich Meridian was recognised as the international standard for longitude. Then above the twelve you will find the longitude and latitude for the Greenwich Meridian.
These are the key details of the watch:
• Screw lock & sprung deep straight knurled & polished 316L stainless steel with triple seal technology
• Custom double curved domed sapphire glass with blue AR coating on the internal surface
• SELLITA SW200-1 25.60mm 11.50 calibre 28,800vph
• 26 jewels
• Incabloc shock system
• Self-winding ball bearing rotor
• Date function
• Power reserve ~38 hours
• Water resistance: 10ATM (100m) 100% tested
• White enamel over brass substrate with over printed numerals
• Blue enamel
• Polished steel diamond cut sweep hand
• 22/22mm Custom handmade Horween water resistant Ink blue Chromexcel leather strap
• Single wide sliding keeper loop
• Natural burnished edges
• Waxed hemp hand stitching
• Polished 316L stainless steel ARD buckle with engraved ZW logo
• 44mm diameter
• 14.1mm thick
• 22mm lug width
• 49.6mm lug to lug pin spacing
Limited to 20 pieces
So in conclusion this is a very bold individual first watch that is very different to most of the watches on the market today. As mentioned earlier there are several more similarly distinctive models ready to follow this. Best of luck to Zero West.
For a couple of months I have been the proud owner of a rare first series Pinion Atom, which are now no longer available. For those of you not familiar with the Atom, it is the first watch from Pinion to use a Japanese Miyota movement.
At £790, this watch offered a lower entry price than that usually associated with Pinion, whilst maintaining many of the qualities and design elements for which the brand has become known .
As the owner of a Pinion Pure Bronze I was very keen to compare the two watches.
Next to the Pure the obvious difference is the case material and size. The Atom having a 41mm bead blasted steel case. Then their is the movement, the Miyota 9015 being an automatic. The Atom case is slightly shorter than the Pure and has 20mm lugs rather than 22mm. Despite these differences the two watches are very clearly from the same parents. Which given the price difference is by no means a small achievement.
I am a big fan of manual movements, I am attracted to the apparent simplicity and the ritual of winding the watch in the morning. So initially hearing the movement of the automatic rotor in the Atom was a little disconcerting. I have seen other reviews mentioning this, but once I compared the Atom to other watches in my collection in particular a Seiko 5 it is fair to say “they all do it”.
The other difference to many of my watches is the date window. This is a feature I personally unnecessarily clutters the dial, as without the aid of glasses I am usually unable to read.
So getting these minor gripes over with I would like to cover the overall experience of living with the Atom. The dominant feature is clearly the beautifully finished black dial with a gillouched machined centre and the sword hands, This shape hands being a first from Pinion . The detailing belies the apparent simplicity of this field watch style dial, with numerals in the Pinion style and the two different levels of black. The small date window placed above the 6, the numerals of the date wheel also use the same Pinion font. Details that become evident if you give this watch more than a quick glance. Finally, for those with very good eyesight the word England appears beneath the six.
The 41mm bead blasted steel case that possibly represents a new direction for Pinion. The Atom being the first to feature bead blasting. This has now been followed by the Atom ND, and the recently announced TT (Twin Time). In my hands this finished has proved to be very resilient. I use this watch as my “doing things” watch and there are still now signs of scratches or blemishes of any kind. The lugs are the now almost standard 20mm which is a godsend for habitual strap swappers like myself, although I wondered whether a slightly larger 22mm might not have suited the watch a little better.
For anyone who dedicate less time to strap switching than me this watch was supplied with a lovely rugged brown leather strap with a neat looking branded buckle which rather than the more usual spring bars is attached with little screws.
Turning the watch over you find a solid case back. I have never been a fan of display backs, especially on tool watches. As you see the Atom case back is tastefully decorated with an Atomic design.
Then should you need any more convincing that this is a practical watch, instead of coming in a beautifully designed box, for which you have to find cupboard space for, it comes in a beautiful handmade watch roll.
I think Pinion have managed to pull off nicely the idea of a well designed and finished watch at a lower cost. It will be very interesting to see where this watch leads. As mentioned above we have already seen some indications of this direction with announcement of the TT and the short run of Atom NDs (No date).
As far as I know Scotland does not have many existing watch brands, although I do have a vague memory of mentioning one in the past but I cannot find the post. This is clearly surprising for such a proud and creative nation.
This week saw the launch of AnOrdain, a new company offering a 38mm steel cased Swiss automatic with some really nice enamel dials.
The company of six people have been studying enameling for three years and experimented with 168 different enamels from five countries. The are now producing an average of eight dials a week in five different colours.
The watch itself is a classic three hander using a Sellita SW200-1 movement. The watches being assembled in Scotland.
The distinguishing feature of these watches is clearly the dials. Enameling looks to be making a comeback with British companies of late, witness Charles Fordsham ( Actually ceramic – thanks Watchnerd) and Fears to name two other brands that offer it. I am not expert enough to comment on the different processes. I can say that AnOrdain us enamel copper dials using very hot ovens, this apparently is very difficult and results in many rejects.
I am really looking forward to hopefully seeing one of these watches close up as I am sure that is the best way to appreciate the look of these dials. However, if the finish of the rest of the watch lives up to the images online this new venture offers an attractive watch with a reliable movement for a reasonable price of just over a grand at £1050. For more information I suggest you visit their website .
I have just dedicated two evenings to listening to the first and second episodes of the Schofield podcast – Six Pips.
Both episodes feature the “Principle Keeper” of Schofield watches, Giles Ellis in discussion with his colleague Harry.
The first episode covers at length Giles’ thought on design, at well over an hour it is pretty long but really fascinating, so much so that I immediately listened to the second episode the following evening.
In the second episode, which debatably should have been the first, Giles explains how and why he founded the Schofield watch company. Whilst doing so he gives great insight into what the brand is all about. We also gives some very useful pointers to anyone thinking of starting a watch company thinking it is an easy way to make money ( a clue, it is not).
I always find, after listening to the personalities creating British watch brands, a great admiration for their passion. People like Giles really love what they are creating despite the numerous obstacles.
These podcasts are definitely worth listening to. Personally, I am really looking forward to the next episode.