When it comes to the British luxury market, there are fewer more respected. It speaks to craftsmanship, quality and heritage. These three principals are at the core of Fears, the family watch company founded in 1846 by Edwin Fear and re-founded by his great-great-great-grandson Nicholas Bowman-Scargill in 2016.
After years working for Rolex, Nicholas took the plunge and stepped out on his own bringing back the family company that the fourth generation of owners wound down in the early 1970s. After two years of taking the company from strength to strength, building a dedicated following along the way (who hungrily snap up any limited editions he produces), he is now expanding the range of watches with his first gold watch.
The top of the range is the Brunswick, named after the Square in Bristol where Fears started their export business in the 1920s. This watch in particular is where you see a depth of references to Fears history. The cushion case takes its inspiration from a 1924 designed Fears watch that Nicholas has in the company archive, while the hands and numerals find their design roots in the Fears watches of the 1940s. The shape of the hands is a constant theme through the Fears range and acts as the company symbol. Hand built in Britain using components from small independent manufactures, fewer than 100 models of this mechanical watch are currently produced a year; just polishing the case alone is a two day process.
The new Brunswick “Midas” is the fourth model to be added to the Fears range and sees Nicholas’s immaculate attention to detail continue. Speaking about the watch Nicholas has this to say, “For many decades, Fears produced watches housed in beautiful rolled-gold cases with a distinct warm tone, which was quite unlike modern gold today. Since acquiring several pieces for the Fears Archive, we’ve been keen to recreate this unique shade of gold on a modern Fears watch, which the Brunswick is perfectly suited for. I’m delighted that this watch will be coming on a Bristol Leather Strap which we’ve been developing with Thomas Ware & Sons for over a year. Their independence and skill at making beautiful hard-wearing leathers attracted us to work with them. The fact they are located in Fears’ historic home city just adds to the special nature of these new premium straps.” Rather than just coat a stainless steel case in gold, as many watch makers would, he has built the case from marine bronze and to achieve the perfect warm depth of gold, coated it in a blend of yellow and rose gold. It is, suffice to say, a real thing of beauty.
When he relaunch two years ago, Nicholas did so with the Redcliff Date, named for the street in Bristol that the family firm originally had its workshop and showroom. But rather than recreate a watch that the family firm had previously built, he wanted to build something that would have been the natural evolution of the firms watches had they not closed. The result is a classic slim line watch that bears the Fears symbol in place of the numbers and houses the date at the 3o’clock; it’s available in Jetliner White, Pebble Grey, Passport Red and Fears Blue, with goatskin leather wrist straps available in a variety of colours.
The Redcliff range is also home to the Redcliff Continental which has the addition of a second time zone housed in an oval window that took its inspiration from the old GB sticker you’d have to put on your car when driving in Europe. It harkens back to the jet set age with its shadow of the globe on the dial. It’s another theme evident through the new Fears and just another example of the attention and heritage that owning a Fears means you are buying into.
Nicholas has built a brand that is like a family, where every detail and customer is given his undivided attention and insight. His show room in Canterbury, and more recently his pop-up at the Piccadilly Arcade off Jermyn Street, reflect the watches and his love of design, be it in the 1960s furniture, display cases engraved with the map of Bristol and Redcliff Street, or the bottle of gin always waiting to be opened for a client. Fear not though, if you can’t make it to the store, Nicholas will come to you with his specially commissioned Globetrotter Fears watch carry case (it’s a thing to be coveted in it’s own right).
As you’d expect from a luxury brand, Nicholas is also there for his customers even years down the line, offering custom services, engraving, servicing and more. After all a Fears is designed to last your lifetime and that of the next generation, something only possible by his partnering with the very best producers. Most recently this has seen him working with Thomas Ware & Sons, a company based in Bristol that he believes worked with the original Fears. Together they have produced a series of exquisite watchstraps for the Brunswick.
Be sure to check Fears out, you wont regret it, they have already become collectables, and a more enthusiastic and knowledgeable person than Nicholas surely doesn’t exist.
Find out more on their website.
Feature Image – The new Midas Brunswick