MICRO MONDAYS: The William Wood Fearless is the brand’s first field watchFergus Nash
There’s a romanticisation that surrounds firefighting that’s been around since the profession’s inception. Firemen are mentioned by wide-eyed children in the same breath as astronauts and secret agents, and sometimes the glorification of the job can overshadow the genuine danger and sacrifice it actually involves. William Wood have built their brand upon honouring these legends, and the Fearless collection turns its attitude in a more practical and serious direction.
Previous releases from William Wood inspired by the British Fire Service led them to opt for a relatively large case size in watches such as the Valiant that took up a lot of wrist presence with its 49mm lug-to-lug and 41mm diameter. The first major change for the field watch style of the Fearless is the sizing, dropping merely 2mm in diameter but a significant 4mm in length, bringing things down to a very wearable 39mm across and 45mm lug-to-lug. Considering that the dive-style timing bezel is no longer there, the additional room for the dial means that you still get a strong amount of wrist presence without sacrificing comfort.
Embracing the more modern and tactical side of firefighting, the William Wood Fearless forgoes the flash of steel or the allure of bronze for the slick finish of sandblasting topped with black ion-plating. The effect is a very dark and very matte surface, which brings its own unique shine in direct light. Speaking of light-play, the flat sapphire crystal is coated with a blue anti-reflective coating, throwing off some interesting colours when it interacts with the dial. The case is 13.8mm thick, and water resistant to 100m.
Of course, you can’t have firefighting without fire, so the William Wood Fearless features three tones of flaming colour as a centrepiece. Yellow, orange, or red light up the dial in a blaze, with rose gold used around the applied indices and the hands to enhance the glowing effect of the colour. The luminous paint used is also very slightly off-white, embracing the overall theme of warmth. Instead of the sandwich construction previously favoured by William Wood, the Fearless uses a grainy black dial as the base which evokes asphalt and helps simplify the overall look. The William Wood script logo is topped as always with a bronze firefighting helmet, made from an original antique version that has been melted down.
Whereas some brands that latch onto a niche theme struggle to make it relevant to watchmaking, one of William Wood’s specialities is that the worlds of watches and firefighting do share a common material in rubber. Black firefighting hose isn’t as easy to find as the red and yellow examples that they began with, but they’ve still managed to integrate some repurposed hose into their rubber straps which are supple and comfortable. Those other colours can also be purchased separately from their store if you’re so inclined. If you get your nose close enough, you can even faintly smell some of the smoke residue from its former life. The straps are also matched to the dial colours through their stitching, although if you prefer something more traditional then the 20mm lug width gives you a lot of aftermarket options.
If you’ve already seen the price of this watch then you may need to hold your breath to discover the movement it uses — the humble Seiko NH35. The use of this movement does unfortunately prevent the William Wood Fearless from being described as a value-for-money purchase, but that doesn’t mean it’s a poor choice. The 21,600 vibrations per hour across a 41 hour power reserve is solid enough, and although the accuracy specifications from factory are between -20/+40 seconds per day, they are very easy to regulate. They’re also quite robust, and should the worst-case scenario ever occur, they are cheaper than a service to replace. The caseback is extremely elaborate, displaying a modern firefighting helmet with a dial-matching tinted visor allowing a glimpse at the movement.
The William Wood Fearless pricing and availability:
Each of the William Wood Fearless colour variations is available now, but limited to 250 pieces each. Price: AU$1,608 / £895 / US$1,126
|Case Dimensions||39mm x 45mm x 13.8mm|
|Case Material||Stainless steel with black ion plating|
|Dial||Black with red, orange, or yellow accents|
|Power Reserve||41 hours|
|Availability||Limited to 250 pieces per colour|
|Price||AU$1,608 / £895 / US$1,126|