A few weeks ago, myself and fellow founder Mr. Calum Moore, attended what is without a doubt the best watch event we have ever attended. It was to celebrate the 175th Anniversary of a brand that we have covered a lot in recent years, and we are now lucky enough to call the owner a dear friend.
The Fears Watch Company was founded in 1846 by Edwin Fear. Since its revival by Nicholas Bowman-Scargill, the 4th managing director, the brand has been going from strength to strength. Their Brunswick is growing a serious following, with all of the models in constant short supply, and on the wrists of many fans of the brand.
The 175th anniversary has already given us an addition to the Brunswick line, with the gorgeous Platinum and Brown variants, and whilst both of those pieces are gorgeous, neither is quite as fitting a celebration in my opinion as to the Archival 1930.
The Archival 1930 is the first watch in a new family, titled Archival. The intention with this new line is to proportionally recreate pieces from the extensive Fears archive. Something Nicholas has been compiling behind the scenes for many years now. Not only are these like-for-like proportionally, but they are also powered by NOS (New Old Stock) movements.
This first introduction to the line is a re-creation of an Art Deco style rectangular watch Fears made back in 1930; hence the name, which is powered by NOS movements from both the ’30s and the ’60s.
The watch itself is absolutely beautiful, certainly very much up my street and something that I think fits perfectly in the Fears collection.
As you can see, this piece really is a like-for-like recreation of the original… just stunning
“I am privileged that the 175th anniversary of Fears’ founding has fallen during my tenure as managing director. A significant anniversary like this had to be marked in a special way, which I feel the Archival 1930 captures perfectly. The launch of this first watch in the new Archival family is a delightful way of allowing us to pay respect to our heritage and extensive archive, in a more direct way, while not being beholden to it.” Nicholas Bowman-Scargill (4th) Managing Director
The case itself is a like-for-like recreation of the watch on which it is based. Whilst it is slightly increased to suit modern taste, it still maintains the Art Deco feel that Nicholas was intending with this piece. The other subtle touch which I love, given the length of the case, is that it has a slight curvature like the Cartier Cintree.
This means incredible wrist presence, and a snug fit on the wrist which makes this watch wear like a dream. Coming in at 40mm x 22mm, it retains a classic look and feel, and with a depth of just 8.54mm paired with that gentle curve, it almost feels like a part of your wrist when you have it on.
Whilst the length of this case may be a turn-off. on the wrist, it is just superb.
As with all Fears watches, Nicholas‘ attention to deal is none more evident than in the dial. If you are in need of a reminder of the quality of dial finishing that Nicholas prides himself on, just have a look at the Brunswick White below. Fears truly rub shoulders with the heavyweights of the industry when it comes to finishing. The watch features a ‘Vintage Champagne’ dial with a polished base coated in 18ct yellow gold.
This contrasts wonderfully with the smooth, matte finish of the inner dial, leaving a border of yellow gold to shine through the outside of the inner dial, which is also coated in 18ct yellow gold. The harkening back of this dial to those of the watches on which this is based is no more apparent than in the crips black printing of the numerals and minute track, which match perfectly.
The same attention to detail in the Brunswick White is even more noticeable here…
The hands, which of course are the trademark ‘Fears’ hands, have been filled in in 1930, as opposed to the gorgeous skeleton version on the Brunswick line. Once again the devil is truly in the detail, with these hands featuring a central bevel with diamond polishing on either side.
Something which you could never truly see unless you had a loupe, but something I would strongly urge you to do, as it is mesmerizing, as they are on the Fears Brunswick Platinum below…
Razor-sharp! You need to get a Fears under a loupe to really see what I am talking about…
As with all Fears watches, the straps are yet another work of art, which completed the entire experience. So often the strap is what really lets brands down, with even the likes of IWC being real offenders for crap straps on rather expensive watches.
However, and very much unsurprisingly, Fears put as much effort into their straps as any other facet of their watches. Each Archival 1930 comes paired on a gorgeous handmade Oxblood Red calf leather strap. The bespoke coloured leather is tanned in Bristol by Thomas Ware & Sons, who are not only Britains oldest vegetable tanner but the very same tannery who created leather for Fears’ watch straps when the original watch was made in 1930.
Being a commemorative piece to celebrate the 175th anniversary of the brand, the watch is limited to 175 pieces. Along with a serial number, each watch’s case back is also engraved with one of the years from 1846 up to 2021. The 175 watches are split into two models to reflect the 136 years the company has been operational (1846 – 1976 and 2016 – present day) and the 39 years when it lay dormant (1977 – 2015).
A subtle nod to this part of the Fears heritage. The first watch, with the founding year, 1846, on its case back, has been donated to the Bristol Museum for their permanent collection.
The other difference between the two models is the movements that power them. The two-handed version uses a NOS movement from the 1960s whilst the three-handed ‘small seconds’ uses a NOS manual wind movement from the 1930s.
Both movements have actually been used by Fears in the past, and have been fully re-built and reconditioned in the Fears workshop whilst also being given an upgraded mainspring for increased reliability. Again, attention to detail is at the heart of everything Fears does.
The Fears Archival 1930 and Archival 1930 Small Seconds are available to order now! They both retail for £3,500 inc VAT and will be shipped from October. Once again, this watch is an absolute home run, and I cannot wait to get hold of one to play within a few weeks time! So stay tuned for a re-visiting of this article once I have played with it for a week or so!