For sometime Schofield watches have offered a variety of custom straps to make their watches even more individual. As well as the more conventional leather straps they offer several woollen straps.
When these first appeared I mentally put them in the “Schofield eccentricity” box, that charactises the brand. I could not image anyone else following their lead.
Then last month, low and behold the slightly less eccentric more classic British brand Fears announce a range of their own woollen straps in collaboration with Romney Marsh Wools. As you can see from the opening picture of this post they look very distinctive rather than eccentric.
More information is available at the Fears website.
These straps fit the 20mm lugs of Fears watches but there is nothing to stop you fitting to other watches, will this be the trend of the winter ?
You might have noticed from my instagram feed that I am currently reviewing the 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
In my waiting for the next review I have posted very little recently. So just to keep things rolling along a little I thought I should give a quick update on the latest news I have picked up.
The biggest story as far as I am concerned is the announcement on Friday of a second watch from the revived Vertex brand, the M100B. I guess the “B” standing for black as this watch is essentially the same watch as the original M100 but with a black case and a rubber strap.
The only picture I could find at the moment is this “screen shot” from Instagram.
This watch will be limited to 150 pieces, as yet I am not sure of the requirements for getting hold of one. I hope to find out more once the official press release is published.
This launch co-incides with the first anniversary of the re-launched Vertex brand.
The other newsworthy event for me was the Pop- Up Fears Museum evening held at Picketts in Mayfair. This was a very enjoyable evening to which Nicholas Bowman-Scargill bought, as well his current range, also some examples of past Fears watches.
In the picture above you can see on the far right the watch that inspired the new Brunswick, which by all accounts is selling very well.
When I last met Nicholas he was very proud of the gold watch at the top of this collection – an inspiration for a future model ?
I have known Nicholas Bowman-Scargill the 4th Managing Director of Fears Watches since the summer of 2016, just before he re-launched the company at that years Salon QP.
Since that time he now has a range of three watches. The original Redcliff, the Redcliff Continental and the mechanical Brunswick. Despite being a a little skeptical about the space on the market for another quartz watch brand , however I like Nicholas and admire what he is doing. I want to help him along by maybe offering his watches the little extra visibility this blog can offer. To this end I have continued to drop hints about getting my hands on one of his watches to review. Then a couple of weeks ago he said he might be able to finally offer me the opportunity – a Redcliff Continental. Which colour combination would I prefer? The sensible person inside me said Blue Dial with Blue strap, a combination that suits the most occasions – although the Red/Red combination was tempting.
The feature that distinguishes the Continental from its regular Redcliff sibling is the addition of the extra time zone window. This feature enables the wearer to keep track on the hour in another part of the world. This is clearly a very useful additional feature for international travellers or for people like me, wondering when it is a good time to call a potential client in Korea.
Anyone that I have spoken to about Nicholas Bowman-Scargill will tell you he is a man with an eye for detail and this is immediately evident from the moment you have the Continental’s box in your hands, As well as the usual guarantee card, each watch comes with a service record book, much like that of a car, and really nice cleaning cloth featuring a map of the area of Bristol from where Fears originated. The service book does in someway help to solve the intrinsic impersonality of quartz movement, suggesting you do more than take the watch to the nearest corner shop when the battery needs changing. You and the watch will have a history to record.
Moving on to the watch itself. Like the original Redcliff the stainless steel case is a comfortable 38mm which looks like an inspired choice given this years trend away from huge men’s watches. This is a size that can work for both sexes and in both formal or informal occasions. The look of the watch falls very much into the “smart/casual” category. Which makes this an ideal watch for today’s office.
As I have already above the key to Fears is detail and this is what separates these watches from the “quartz competition”. The first feature you notice is the distinctive dial design featuring the BOAC globe invoking thoughts of the glamour of mid-twentieth century travel. This further reinforces the idea that this is a traveller’s watch. An important Fears design cue carried over from the original Redcliff is the the pipette shape used for hands and the indices. These details and the second time zone window just above the 6 position are all very clearly through the sapphire crystal glass, which whilst very clear is to my taste disappointingly flat.
The steel case is really well made and has very nice lines, one morning sitting at my desk I found myself just looking at how the light played across the different angles of the watch when viewed from the side. Another very nice feature of Fears watches is the quick change spring bars on the strap, as a habitual strap swapper this makes life considerably easier for that last minute morning change of plan. Fears straps are handmade from goat’s skin in Belgium by a family-run atelier, which has specialised exclusively in making watch straps for over 40 years. The leather being sourced from Madras in India, this type of leather is chosen for its soft, supple nature, and its strength means the strap can be made thinner than a calf leather strap.
As I mentioned the watch uses a quartz movement, For this Fears have chosen the Swiss made Ronda 515.24D movement. his rare quartz movement offers outstanding accuracy and reliability with its powerful stepping motor.
As well as Blue the Continental is available with a White or Red dial, all priced at £725 at the time of writing.
In conclusion, the Continental is a nice upgrade of the original Redcliff. It features a great deal of intesting detail and is really versatile. Fears is definitely a brand to watch, the first of the well received mechanical Brunswick model will delivered to their owners soon. What next ?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
The salon QP is where I first met with both Schofield and Pinion, so I am a little disappointed to discover that after the absence of Pinion last year, Schofield have decided not to attend either this year.
For the first year since Schofield launched its Signalman model watches they are not exhibiting . The reasons are simple; wthey are very busy with a completely new watch called the Daymark and very busy with the production of the new bronze Beater B2. There is a risk that none of their new watches would be ready .
On the up side there will still be a significant presence from British watch brands such as Fears, who will be launching at the event, Dennison, Robert Loomes and Garrick. The last two with new movements.
News is seeping out on social media of the re-launch of the British watch brand Fears at this autumn’s Salon QP.
Below is the only image of a past Fears watch I can find. A pretty nice looking watch. They might do worse than produce a slightly larger re-interpretation of this.
The only other news I have managed to uncover is the company’s entry on the business social network Linkedin. They say….
“The launch of the Fears Watch Company Limited marks the re-birth of a family-run British watch company. Between 1846 and the 1950s, quality watches coming out of the city of Bristol proudly bore the name FEARS on the dial. Over the past 60 years the company has lain dormant, skipping two generations to be re-founded by the great-great-great-grandson of the founder. Fears will produce and sell high quality wrist watches, manufactured in Switzerland, with comprehensive after-sales care, at an affordable price. A quality wrist watch designed to last a lifetime.”
Definitely something to look forward to at Salon QP. I am wondering how much space there is in this “British/Swiss” niche.