The Fears rebirth continues with the brand’s first mechanical watch, the rather debonair Brunswick.
The Fears name was relaunched at SalonQP 2016 with the quartz-based Redcliff Date, which was the first watch to bear the branding in well over half a century. Fears was originally established by Edwin Fears in 1846 and based in Bristol until the 1960s, while this contemporary revival is the brainchild of Nicholas Bowman-Scargill, the original founder’s great-great-great grandson.
Fears followed up at last year’s SalonQP with not only a new Redcliff GMT, the Continental, but its ‘first’ mechanical watch, the Brunswick, based on a cushion-cased model from the company’s archive circa 1924.
While the spirit of the original (sterling silver) case may have been preserved it has undergone some substantial changes; the corners of the 38mm stainless steel case have been sharpened and the wire lugs replaced with more robust tapered lugs. There is also a bold round bezel which impressively continues the lines of the domed sapphire crystal. The silhouette is completed by an onion crown that is large enough to be functional while small enough not to dig into the wrist uncomfortably as so many do.
The dial has been tidied up and modernised with a more subtle railway minutes track with a lighter, although still stylised, typeface used for the arabic numerals. A repositioned small seconds subdial no longer impinges on the six o’clock numeral.
The biggest change are the hands; gone are the super slim period spade hands and in are a far more contemporary set of openworked syringe hands, thermally blued to stand out against the translucent white, cold resin enamel dial.
Inside is a manually wound ETA 7001, a simple 3Hz small seconds movement offering 40 hours of power reserve and given its Côtes de Genève striping in the UK. But the movement is just 23.3mm across and requires a heavy, oversized caseback ring to cover up the unused space inside the case. In a watch this confident it is an unfortunate misstep and Fears is apparently experimenting with more aesthetically pleasing solutions. At this point, the watch just doesn’t look finished.
The £2,300 Brunswick represents an ambitious step forward for a young company which had previously only sold quartz watches for £650. It also launches itself into a competitive price segment and inevitably sees it go head-to-head with watches from better known brands.
But that’s precisely where the Brunswick excels. Not only is it an exceptionally competent design, perfectly proportioned and comfortable to wear on a daily basis, but it justifies its price by producing the case, dial and hands in the UK. The whole thing is also assembled in the UK too should that be important to you and, if you’re buying into the Fears brand, it really should be as it carries the brand’s story forward into a new century.
In this industry you will occasionally hear talk of an apocryphal figure, the ‘modern gentleman’ and what he should wear. Should he truly exist outside of marketing departments then maybe, just maybe, he’ll be wearing a Brunswick.
This article was first published on Salon QP
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