The Time+Tide Shop welcomes the understated elegance of Fears The Time+Tide Shop welcomes the understated elegance of Fears

The Time+Tide Shop welcomes the understated elegance of Fears

Borna Bošnjak

Keeping the excitement of our new Melbourne Time+Tide Watch Discovery Studio opening its doors to the public going, we’re delighted to introduce the latest newcomer to the Time+Tide Shop – British watchmakers Fears. Apart from actually making good watches, heritage and the story behind the company are often regarded as the strongest marketing tools for any brand. If they’ve existed since 1846, surely they must know what this watchmaking this is about, right? Whether simply a merchandising ploy or a genuine inspiration for the future, there are numerous manufacturers out there who claim hundreds of years of existence, though not many who can claim a story quite like Fears’. The brand’s current Managing Director and visionary is Nicholas Bowman-Scargill, a former Rolex apprentice who revived his great-great-great-grandfather’s watch brand, once a notable maker exporting to 95 countries worldwide. Like many others, Fears ceased operations in the mid-1970s despite a prosperous post-war period, only to be revived in 2016 thanks to Bowman-Scargrill’s efforts. Years later, Fears has launched several successful collections, the latest and greatest of which we’re happy to offer in the Time+Tide Shop.

Time+Tide is the authorised dealer for Fears watches. To check out the entire collection, head to the Time+Tide Shop, or visit our Melbourne Watch Discovery Studio

Brunswick 38

Though it wasn’t the first post-revival introduction, the Brunswick has certainly been Fears’ flagbearer in terms of recognisability. The softly rounded cushion case, eye-catching dials, and applied markers of the Brunswick 38 had it destined for success since the start. Not ones to rest on their laurels, Fears has subtly improved the quality of their watches as time went on, with the latest renditions sporting milled hands, a new custom crown and water resistance upped to 100 metres. My personal pick is without doubt the Brunswick 38 Salmon – that vertically brushed dial with applied black gold indices casting a shadow, and the azurage small seconds are just the cherry on top.

Those hoping for something a little more classic can opt for the Brunswick 38 White, leaning more into the vintage aesthetic of the watch named after the Brunswick Square in Bristol, the location of Fears’ headquarters. Going with printed numerals rather than applied, there’s more freedom for a stylised, serifed typeface – the highlight has to be the open 6.

Should you prefer champagne over salmon, Fears has got you covered here, too. With the same, highly dimensional numerals and azurage small seconds, the Brunswick 38 Champagne goes for a subtly frosted finish of 18k gold, reminiscent of acid-etched frosting used in many haute horlogerie, British-made pieces.

To go with the vintage aesthetic, all of the Brunswick 38 models house a manually wound ETA 7001 movement, decorated with blued screws and côtes de Genève. The 7001 has been around since the 1970s, and has been extensively used in the industry. You’ll know its evolution as Nomos‘ in-house, entry-level Alpha calibre, though might not recognise it when extensively modified by the likes of Ming, Felipe Pikullik and Holthinrichs.

Brunswick 40

If the Brunswick 38 is just a tad too old-timey for you, Fears recently expanded the Brunswick collection with a larger 40mm variant. The cushion case’s design is pretty much unchanged apart from the sizing, wearing larger than its 40mm sizing suggests due to the squared-off shape. Sticking with the custom Edwin typeface numerals, Fears moved the seconds indication to the centre, shaping the counterbalance of the hand to the main handset, all evoking the Fears logo. The dials are sportier too, with a distinct step going towards the centre, both portions covered in matte lacquer. The Brunswick 40 Flamingo Pink is certainly the most bold option in all of Fears’ catalogue, making the most of the pink dial trend. Honestly, I wasn’t too sure about the vintage case design mixing with the pink dial, until I saw this watch in person. It kinda just works.

The aptly named Brunswick 40 Blue is much more subdued, and is among the most appealing blue dials I’ve recently seen. The two levels offset the way the surfaces interact with light, each given a unique texture. The central section sits on a lower plain and is covered in a micro-guilloché pattern, with concentric circles emanating from the pinion, giving the dial portion an ultra-subtle sunburst. Containing the Arabic numerals, the raised outer section is vertically brushed by hand, allowing the black gold numerals to stand out even better.

Arguably the sportiest of the trio, the Brunswick 40 Silver repeats the two-level dial set-up, though opting for an opaline effect to the outer dial section that results in a frosted finish. Unlike the previous two, the Silver also sports a flash of colour for the seconds hand, finished in a deep red, and matching the tiny triangle marker above the 12 o’clock index – a nod to Fears watches of old.

To match their sporty intentions, Fears outfitted the Brunswick 40 models with 150 metres of water resistance and a five-link steel bracelet. In classic Fears fashion, however, the inside of the butterfly clasp is beautifully enamelled with the Bristol flower. It’s such admittedly unnecessary touches that separate the truly great from the good – and you won’t catch me saying that again about a butterfly clasp on a sporty watch anytime soon.

As far as the movement goes, the Brunswick 40 line-up goes for an automatic ETA 2824-2 of the Top grade variety. Identical in materials as the Chronometer grade, the Top is adjusted in five positions, with a maximum daily variation of +/- 15 seconds per day and a 38-hour power reserve. Fears further modifies the movement by removing the date mechanism, which means no ghost date crown position.

Archival 1930

The final member of Time+Tide’s Fears collection is the Archival 1930, a highly limited edition of just 130 pieces launched to celebrate the 175th anniversary of the brand’s founding. Measuring in at 22mm across and 40mm lug-to-lug, the Archival 1930 is about as close as you could get to an actual vintage Fears, without getting a vintage Fears. “How so?”, I hear you ask. Well, rather than use a tiny modern movement, Fears is using new-old-stock ETA 2360 calibres that the brand would’ve been using in the 1960s, though fully rebuilt and with upgraded mainsprings. The blue, bevelled hands sit against a highly complex dial which is first polished and gold-plated, allowing the golden border separating the minute track from the dial to shine through the matte creamy colour.