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.
Some of you might have seen this teaser shot I posted on Instagram a little while ago. Well now the facts are public, there is a second Brunswick version, the Midas. This watch has been officially launched at today’s Watchmakers Club event in London. Unfortunately for practical reasons I was unable to attend so I am really looking forward to hear what the reaction has been.
The prototype Nicholas Bowman-Scargill showed me look really nice, the cushion shaped case makes a perfect “gold watch”.
I am really looking forward to see what this young brand comes up with next – a chronograph maybe ?
Phosphor Bronze plated with multiple layers of yellow & rose gold, 38mm x 38mm cushion-shaped, plated and finished in the UK
Top-grade ETA 7001, manual winding, 17 jewel, 21,600vph (3Hz) and 40 hr power reserve. Movement bridges ‘stippled’ and gold plated in the UK
Sapphire Crystals to front (with anti-reflective) and back
Cold resin enamel with skeleton Fears hands, plated in yellow & rose gold, made in the UK
Time with subsidiary seconds at 6 o’clock
2 Year guarantee from date of purchase
Fears Bristol Leather Strap – crafted from premium calf leather made in Bristol
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.
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 ?
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.
Nicholas Bowman-Scargill from the re-launched British watch brand Fears has achieved what many people have dreamt of, he has launched his own company. Then to help this he has done what many PR people dream of, he has been interviewed on the famously non-commercial BBC. Hats off !
Here is a link the actual interview starts after about 16:33
My first contact with Nicholas Bowman-Scargill was through Twitter, he thanked me for mentioning their here in July. Fears Watches is based in Rotherhithe only a sort cycle away from Greenwich, the home of Grinidgetime. Nicholas suggested we meet after the “summer” and he would tell me all about the brand and show me the watches.
Holidays over and we finally met. I must say meeting people that are following their passion is always interesting, Nicholas certainly didn’t disappoint.
Nicholas told me his life story so far, about his interest in watches and trains. After graduating in Economics he went to work in PR for a few years, this he realised was not what he wanted to do for the rest of his life, his passion led him to convince Rolex to take him on as an apprentice and he worked with them in their after sales department in London for five years.
He still had an “itch” to scratch and was discussing with his family about what sort of business he could set-up for himself, his Mother suggested “why don’t you revive the family watch company – Fears?”
Nicholas knew there were watchmakers in the family but he didn’t realise there was a brand.
Nicholas is great-great-great grandfather founded the Fears Watch Company 170 years ago in Bristol. After passing through the business the business wound down in the 1950’s.
Now after two years Nicholas is ready to re-launch the company at this years Salon QP. He does as much possible within the company himself, he explained how for example he had been on a course to master Adobe rather than employ an outside agency to produce his promotional brochure.
I have seen and tried the prototypes. The watches are very nicely proportioned with a, on trend ( I keep hoping), 38mm case. Nicholas wants to keep the details quiet until the official launch. Nicholas says he wants to remain true to the company’s products and market a well designed watch with a Swiss movement at an affordable price.
I wish him the success his efforts and enthusiasm merit. I still have my doubts as to how much space there is in this segment of Anglo-Swiss watches.