INTRODUCING: The William Wood Fearless collection delivers enhanced wearability and a sense of funFergus Nash
One of my first hands-on reviews for Time+Tide in early 2020 was the William Wood Red Watch, and I was definitely a fan. The way that the brand were able to weave in Easter eggs that told their story and built an identity was unlike anything I’d seen from other companies at the time, and still remains one of the best examples. Beginning as a Kickstarter campaign by Jonny Garrett to commemorate his grandfather’s heroics in the British Fire Service, William Wood quickly gained a cult following for their unique blend of heritage and fun. The new William Wood Fearless collection presents a trio of field-inspired watches with more of a modern edge and enhanced wearability.
One of my only gripes with the case we grew accustomed to from the William Wood Valiant collection and its offshoots was the dimensions. Even though I will admit my own small-wrist biases, there’s definitely a shift in the market towards shorter lugs for ease of wearing regardless of the diameter. While the size change may not seem massive simply due to a drop from 41mm to 40mm, the dive-style case of the Valiant had a lug-to-lug of 49mm while the new Fearless models are clipped to just 45mm. This improves the wearability tenfold for those with smaller than average wrists, as well as making the whole watch more versatile without losing too much solidity.
William Wood have experimented with bronze materials and aged finishes on steel cases in the past, but the Fearless introduces something entirely new for the history-focused brand. Working towards a more modern, stealthy look, the first entrants to the Fearless collection sport a sandblasted case of stainless steel, then coated with ion-plating technology for a robust satin black finish. The caseback has a deep engraving that depicts a modern-day firefighter’s helmet, but the original hallmark of the brand is still embedded into the crown — the William Wood logo of an old helmet made from the bronze of a genuine antique example.
In contrast to the sandwich dials that William Wood have gone for in the past, the Fearless model uses bold applied details for all of the markers except for the printed minute track and text. This mix of Arabic numerals and rectangular markers at the quarters stands out strongly from the textured black dial, which has a gritty asphalt look, and the colour scheme is subtly warmed through the use of rose gold toned metals and off-white luminous paint. Those rosy tones match well with the firefighter’s helmet logo, also made from an actual antique helmet.
The William Wood Fearless collection uses colour in a fantastic way, finding a great middle-ground between all-out dial themes and minuscule detail. The chapter ring is quite wide considering it only has printed numerals for every five minute indication, but that gives the colour some extra room to shine. First is a deep cherry red, which is probably the most synonymous colour for the firefighting theme. Next is a soft orange, which definitely captures an ember-glow without being too zesty. Finally comes a bright yellow, similarly following the flame motif while also embracing the modern pop that yellow brings.
Many brands pride themselves on their unique approaches to rubber straps, but William Wood go above and beyond to follow their brand identity. Each of the straps features a large section of pre-used firefighter’s hose, which you can even smell the smoke on if you get close enough. The Fearless collection uses sections from black hoses, which is harder to source than the previous red, orange, and yellow straps that William Wood have used before. The stitching on each strap is colour-matched to the dial accent too, but should you wish to change things up the 20mm lug width opens up heaps of aftermarket options.
Opting to stay with an affordable movement, the William Wood Fearless collection uses the tried-and-tested Seiko NH35. Although they have offered Sellita-powered choices in the past for those who want a Swiss calibre, the NH35 is more than capable when it comes to reliable and accurate timekeeping. 41 hours of power reserve and a 21,600 vibration per hour beat rate are respectable specifications, and they’re also easy to adjust at home with basic watchmaking tools if you’d like to hone in the accuracy even more. You can see a glimpse of the movement through the sapphire caseback window, tinted to match the accent colour of the dial.
The William Wood Fearless collection pricing and availability:
Each colour variant of the William Wood Fearless collection is limited to 250 pieces, with a unique number on every caseback. You can order it from William Wood’s website here. Price: £895
|40mm x 13.8mm x 45mm
|Sapphire front and back
|Black with red, orange, or yellow highlights
|Rubber with fire hose