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.
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.
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 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.
Having said that I was also quiet keen also on the versaltilty of the brown version as well.
Then if you want to feel even more summery, you could try a brighter perlon – green maybe.
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.
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.
Sorry for the blatant lift from the Pinion website but I wanted to post the availability of Pinion’s latest watch the “TT – Twin Time” as soon as possible. Pinion have managed to produce a great looking titanium watch, a material that I am usually not too keen on for some unknown reason.
The Pinion TT (Two Time-zones) is a 42mm titanium GMT watch with dual time-zone functionality and powered by a Swiss automatic movement.
The Pinion TT is available in two dial variants: Maroon and Anthracite, with each titanium GMT watch feature a contrasting colour scheme and central seconds hand. On both models, a second time-zone is indicated by a beau-blue coloured GMT hand that can be configured to point at the 24-hour numerals on the dial.
The 42mm case is manufactured from titanium which makes the watch around 25% lighter than its steel equivalent ( Axis II Steel ) yet titanium is stronger than steel and features a distinctive grey hue colouring in a brushed/satin finish.
As with previous watches in the Pinion collection, such as the Pure and R-1969, the Pinion TT watch features applied typographic numerals that are raised above the base of the dial. Because of this, the design of the 24 hour GMT hand features a curve to allow it to pass these numerals.
At the heart of the titanium gmt watch is a Swiss made automatic movement, ETA 2893-2 that provides reliable and accurate timekeeping. The decorated movement and Pinion beau-blue winding rotor are visible through the glass exhibition case back on the reverse.
As with all Pinion watches, the TT is water resistant to 100 metres depth; it is finished, assembled and tested by experienced watchmakers in England.
I am looking forward to seeing these watches in the metal
The original batch of Pinion’s entry level watch should by now all be sold. For anyone that was not able to get hold of one all is not lost I recently received a newsletter announcing a release of a further 30 Atoms, These watches will differ slightly from the original principally by not having a date window. a feature that will not be missed by those of us who have difficulty in reading date windows on the vast majority of watches. As you will see the dial design will also be returning to the familiar Pinion use of only 12,3,6 and 9 numbers.
Whilst I am writing about this new watch I thought it might also be a great opportunity to reflect on my experiences with my original Atom.
This watch has now become my goto “doing things” watch. It enables me to wear a British watch in riskier situations than would feel comfortable with other watches. It has effectively taken the place of my Hamilton Khaki that previously filled that role. The Atom is suited to this use for several reasons. It has 10 ATM water resistance, the case is slim so less likely to be bashed and of course the bullet proof Miyota automatic movement. Japanese automatic movements have always given me the idea they can take more punishment than their European cousins.
For the summer and to increase the “doing things” suitability I have chosen to swap the really nice original strap with its great buckle with a variety of fabric straps. Although this strap is too nice not to return in the autumn.
Below is my current favorite, a green MN from Erika’s Originals, The elasticity and the absence of the need to “fold back” making these straps for me the “thinking man’s” nato.
With these comments I am maybe getting my blog entries in the wrong order, a proper review of the original Atom should have come first. Be sure I am onto it.
Just in case you cannot wait here are the essential details of the original Atom.
Automatic Japanese mechanical movement
Time in hours, minutes
Push in crown
Stainless steel case back, engraved
20mm Handmade leather strap ( in various options ).
Japanese Miyota 9015
Frequency: 28,800 vibrations per hour
Power reserve: 42 hours
Winding: Automatic / self-winding
Case: 316L Stainless steel, matt bead-blasted finish
Glass: Sapphire, convex with anti-reflective coating on the inside
Today I received more details of the second watch from the re-launched Vertex the all black M100B. I wrote briefly about this watch last week but lacked good quality images. Well here they are and looking pretty impressive.
Blacked out watches are fashionable so one could be cynical and think Vertex are just following fashion but in their defence Don Cochrane has a credible explanation. The black case and rubber strap bring the M100B in line with the demands of a modern military
“I would like to think that, had the technology been available, the original W.W.W Cal59 made by Vertex
in WW2 would have been designed to be non-reflective. Creating the M100B has allowed us show just
how perfect that would have been and, we could not be more thrilled with the result “
As you might guess from the images above in addition to the rubber strap the watch comes with two NATO straps. The rubber strap lookes really nice in the photos, I am particularly happy to see the “easy-release” spring bars, making switching straps a breeze.
So most would agree the watch is cool, the good news is that it can be purchased , unlike the M100, without referral. The catch is there will only be 150 made, so hurry.
I am looking forward to getting to see one in the metal before they all go.
Vertex M100B specifications
• Custom ETA 7001 mechanical movement with rhodium finish and Cotes de Genève decoration
• In keeping with our previous Vertex movements, the ratchet wheel is engraved with Vertex
• Brushed steel DLC case, box crystal glass, waterproof to 100m
• Moulded Super-LumiNova™ dial
• Hand wound with 42-hour reserve
• Black dial with arabic numerals to maximise legibility, in homage to the Vertex W.W.W watch of 1944
• Packaged in a Peli case with three straps – a black rubber two-piece strap and two bespoke nylon NATOstyle
straps in Black and Red, all with black DLC hardware
• Price: £2,625 available via www.vertexblack.com