I am full of admiration for the people I have met who have launched their own watch brand. I have spoken at length with several about the trials and tribulations before watch they want to present to the world is ready to be marketed.
Two of the companies that have emerged since I have been blogging are Hamtun and Marloe, neither of which I have had the the chance to meet in person. These two companies both chose to fund their watches via the crowdfunding website Kickstarter. Hamtun with their value divers watch, the H1 and Marloe the hand wound Cherwell.
The thing both brands have is their founders have chosen to give some insight into the design process and why they made certain decisions on their company websites.
Interesting references for anyone thinking of following in their footsteps.
In this piece Ross Davis discuss why they chose the movements they have so for. https://hamtun.co/blogs/news/watch-movements-we-use
And then below is a video from Marloe watches discussing the design process.
Maybe these items and those that follow might inspire more British brands to start 🙂
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
I thought Christopher Ward merit an honorable mention this week, they have recently announced some really nice looking watches which move them significantly away from the generic styles. The latest one to really catch my eye is this the C65 Trident Diver.
As you can see the look is vintage but I am not able to identify any particular watch as the inspiration, though I am sure there is someone out there that can.
This watch has a useful casual but smart look, a diver that is not so “in your face” as the usual desk divers whilst retaining all the practicality. A cool trick.
The specifications are:
Calibre: Sellita SW210 (hand wound)
Case: 316L Stainless Steel
Water resistance: 15 ATM (150 metres)
Vibrations: 28,800 per hour (4 Hz)
Timing tolerance: +15/-15 seconds per day
Dial colour: Blue or Black
Lug to lug: 47.1mm
Strap width: 22mm
Leather or Rubber strap
I would really like to see one for real. The only potential negative for me might be the 41mm case size, I am curious to see how it wears.
Here is the usual nice video from Christopher Ward
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 ?
On Wednesday evening I saw a social media posting that surprised me. Farer would announce a new 37mm manual wind watch the next day at 17:00hr. I was surprised because I had not seen even a whisper of this until then. However, following the social media thread it also emerged that the new watch would be using the ETA 7001 movement, the same as another two hot British designed watches of the moment, the Fears Brunswick and Vertex M100.
So on Thursday evening I eagerly logged on to see what this young company had come up with.
As is the Farer way the new release is three versions of the same watch with different dial/colour combinations. I have posted above a photo of my favourite of the three. the Lansdell.
The three watches all feature the same slim (8.3mm) cushioned shaped case in the now more fashionable smaller 37mm size.
Before I mange to get my hands on one for a proper review I thought it might be worthwhile to give you link to the exclusive launch review on Worn & Wound.
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 ?
I have been waiting for what seems like for ever for the latest watch from Pinion, the entry level Atom, to become available.
You might remember I first saw this watch at the Watchmakers Club event before last year’s Salon QP. I was looking forward to getting my hands on one for a review.
Then last week an e-mail arrives from Pinion announcing there were only 20 watches left and once these were gone that was it, or at least until Piers Berry, the founder, changes his mind. So that was it, no watch for me to review.
Salon QP, a more significant watch magazine than my blog, did however manage to get hold of one for review. So I thought I would flag this up to any of you that might not have seen it.
I realise that for sometime I have had a fairly neutral attitude towards Christopher Ward as brand. This I realise is probably due to their positioning as “a good value online only brand”. This was is a positioning I did not really to buy into.
Then this week I saw a posting on social media for this watch, a bronze cased Trident diver. As you can see from the video below this is a great looking watch.
The specifications are :
Case weight: 107g
Calibre: Sellita SW200-1
Vibrations: 28,800 per hour (4Hz)
Timing tolerance: -20/+20 seconds per day
Case: Bronze C5191 (CuSn6)
Backplate: 316L Stainless steel
Water resistance: 60 ATM (600 metres)
Dial Colour: Deep Blue
Lume:Old Radium SuperLuminova®
Strap width: 22mm
Lug to Lug: 51.5mm
There is a choice of finish case finish, raw or patinated . You can also choose between, leather, rubber or canvas straps.
In summary a very handsome package for a reasonable sounding £795 – something for the summer.
My time with the new Vertex M100 prompted me to investigate the famous “Dirty Dozen” watches a little further. Fortunately, the information is really easy to find.
Despite none of these watches being from British brands and them being made in Switzerland I feel justified in writing about them on this blog as the watches were ordered and specified by the British government.
During the Second World War the British armed forces, like their equivalents in other nations, needed reliable watches for their service people. The British industry was converted to the production of war materials, so the War Department placed an order for custom-built wristwatches with twelve Swiss manufacturers, Buren, Cyma, Eterna, Grana, Jaeger-LeCoultre, Lemania, Longines, IWC, Omega, Record, Timor, and Vertex. These needed to be accurate, reliable and durable, which meant they had to be regulated to chronometer standards, and also be waterproof and shockproof. More specifically the watches also had to have a black dial, arabic numerals, luminous hour and minute hands, luminous hour markers, a railroad minute track, a shatterproof crystal, and a stainless-steel case. Powered by a 15-jewel movements. This specification was known as WWW – watch, wrist, waterproof.
The different manufacturers delivered different quantities. The rarest being Grana with between 1,000 to 5,000 pieces whilst the numbers for Omega and Record reached 25,000 each.
Production numbers based on estimates published by Konrad Knirim’s in his book entitled “British Military Timepieces”
I will now be keeping my eyes open for a Grana or failing that a nice Vertex which would give me the opportunity to also buy one of the new M110s.
Yesterday evening I was lucky enough to attend Bremont’s Townhouse event in London. This evening is the occasion during which Bremont present their new watches for 2018.
The evening kicked of with a presentation by the Arctic explorer and Bremont ambassador, Ben Saunders. As with other similar talks given by Bremont ambassadors, Ben gave a really interesting talk which make you feel like a super coach potato. Ben, with the help of Nick English, also managed to explain elegantly the justification for his relationship with Bremont. An explorer needs a reliable accurate watch to aid them with navigation which is especially important in the featureless terrain of the Arctic. The watch needs to be mechanical as quartz watches become less reliable in the extreme cold. An interesting fact I did not know.
The presentation of the watches was done with the usual Bremont style. I would only criticize the level of lighting, the low lights made it difficult to see the details of the watches well.
The star watch of the evening was the new Supermarine Endurance, the watch Ben used in the Arctic.
The second most eye catching new model for me was the U2/51-Jet.
This is an update of the existing popular U2 model with the addition of the vintage lume previously seen on the limited edition P-51 watch.
I then managed a quick try of the new S-501 divers watch which adds the more vintage styling of the S-300 series to the larger watch. This change works very well as you can see below.
I finished off my quick visit with a quick look at the understated Airco range, in particular the new white and blue dialled variants.
It blue the colour for this year ?
A big thank you to the Bremont for yet another well organised and enjoyable event. I hope to look at these and other new watches more in depth in future posts.