Hands-On: Angus Davies gets hands-on with the Fears Brunswick
This detailed review of the Fears Brunswick includes live pictures, specification and pricing.
I once debated with a fellow watch enthusiast whether you need to like the owner of a brand in order to purchase one of the company’s watches. The consensus was that whilst it was not essential, it certainly helped.
Meeting Nicholas Bowman-Scargill for the first time, I fell under his spell and succumbed to his abundant charms. Indeed, Mr Bowman-Scargill is a very likeable chap. Nevertheless, at the time of our first meeting, his company, Fears, offered only quartz watches, precluding his brand from editorial space on ESCAPEMENT. However, last week the quintessential Englishman unveiled his first mechanical watch at couple of events, The Watchmakers Club and SalonQP. I can already report that this watch, the Fears Brunswick ‘is a beauty’.
The ‘cold resin enamel’ dial yields a bright white hue even when in dim light. The maker’s name is proudly proclaimed below noon, a name which can trace its origins to 1846 when Edwin Fear established his eponymous company.
The hour and minute hands are thermally blued and open-worked, revealing small glimpses of the dial epidermis as they circumnavigate the display.
Arabic numerals denote the hours. They are delivered in a crisp font avec serifs, aiding readability. Positioned above 6 o’clock is a small seconds display, slight in stature yet sufficiently large to be easily read.
Encircling the dial is a chemin de fer, providing a highly practical and stylish means of framing the watch’s display.
Crafted in 316L stainless steel, the Fears Brunswick measures 38mm x 38mm. Its cushion-shaped profile exudes an air of nostalgia and is reminiscent of a former Fears timepiece.
In 1924, Fears unveiled a watch equipped with a cushion-shaped case and wire loop strap attachments. This timepiece provided the inspiration for the Brunswick, however, the modern-day watch eschews wire loops, favouring contemporary lugs. The marriage of both vintage and modern design elements work well, delivering a very harmonious composition.
The dorsal plane of the watch is equipped with a pane of sapphire crystal, granting sight of the hand-wound movement within. Nicholas was keen to point out that the watch was a prototype, despite appearing to be the finished article, and would receive a new, improved case-back design.
Fears offers a ‘made to order’ strap service providing a choice of 80,000 colour combinations, sating the desires of the most individualistic clients.
The ‘top-grade’ ETA 7001, hand-wound movement features 17 jewels. The balance has a frequency of 21,600 VpH (3Hz) and the power reserve delivers 40 hours of autonomy.
Nicholas has turned to a UK-based company to embellish the Swiss movement. This company has decorated the bridges with Côtes de Genève motif. Moreover, blued screws augment the appeal of this calibre. This is a pleasingly presented movement and represents incredible value for money given its modest asking price of £2300 (RRP as at 26.1.2018).
The Brunswick superbly marries vintage and contemporary design elements, resulting in a cohesive mien which I find most becoming. The cushion-shaped case affords a comfortable union with the wrist while exuding a huge quotient of eye-appeal.
Readability is a prerequisite of any watch and, once again, the Brunswick delivers. Its white ‘cold resin dial’ proves the perfect foil for the blued open-worked hands. The proclamation of time is unequivocal and ease of read off is heightened courtesy of the chemin de fer. Quite simply, the matchless lucidity of the dial erodes any excuses for lateness.
Fears has used a Swiss ETA 7001 hand-wound movement but has employed a UK-based company to embellish the calibre. The resultant movement is impressively appointed, especially considering the modest asking price of the watch. Indeed, despite the accessible price point, there are many virtues which make this fine English timepiece feel special.
I always set aside my personal feelings for personalities whenever I review a watch. In this regard, and without favour, I can unequivocally state the Fears Brunswick is a loveable timepiece. However, my fondness for Nicholas Bowman-Scargill further endears me to his company and makes me hope this small English brand continues to flourish.
Case: Stainless steel; dimensions 38mm x 38mm; sapphire crystal to front and case-back
Functions: Hours; minutes; small seconds
Movement: ETA 7001; Hand-wound movement; frequency 21,600 VpH (3Hz); 17 jewels; power reserve 40 hours
Strap: Various straps – choice of 80,000 combinations
Price: £2300 inc VAT (RRP as at 26.1.2018)
Angus is a self-confessed watch addict and is frequently asked to contribute to various printed magazines and websites around the globe. He also writes for individual watch companies on matters of horology and has appeared on television and radio as an industry expert.