The new Fears Brunswick Salmon and Midas Silver are reinterpretations of this brand’s approach to watchmaking. They reflect a brand intent on producing a watch to be worn every day but also one which doesn’t compromise on the details.
Fears is a brand with as much charisma as history. It is also a brand which treats its 174 years of English history with respect yet, as is emphatically stated by owner Nicholas Bowman-Scargill, has no intention of simply replicating the past. Nevertheless, the most recent duo of Fears Brunswick models present two expression of the brand’s single model as well as dials plucked, in principle, from the brand’s past.
With no idea of what was to come, I wandered the streets of Marylebone a few days ago in anticipation of a meeting with these models and Fears’ owner (listen to our recent discussion on Watch Chronicler Unscripted). Invited to the table, I was met with a glass of champagne and a delightful lunch but, on reflection, this wasn’t the usual buttering-up expected in the field of journalism. No, this was a lunch which set the scene beautifully for the new members of the Fears Brunswick collection.
Before addressing these most recent offerings of the ever-scarce (and, perhaps, rightly so) Brunswick, it is worth noting Fears’ history. Originally founded by Edwin Fear in Bristol in 1846, Fears closed in 1976. It was resurrected by the descendant of the original founder in 2016 who celebrated the company’s first 1,000 days with the 2019 Fears Redcliffe Streamline and a sneak-preview of the Fears Brunswick Blue.
The latter watch, it must be said, caught me by surprise. Signalling the beginning of Fears as a solely mechanical brand, the dial of this model featured a galvanic treatment more commonly seen on brands at the level of Audemars Piguet. For this 2020 release, however, the Brunswick returns in a warmer and more charismatic interpretation.
Before addressing this year’s two versions of the Brunswick for their respective merits, it is worth focusing on the elements new to both models. These are primarily found under the domes sapphire crystal.
Like the second generation Brunswick, the skeletonised syringe hands are beautifully capped at their centre. The printing, however, is the first highlight here. First to address the logo, this is reduced in size and is far more akin to a maker’s mark than a brand name designed to draw attention. Additionally, each five minute period is marked by a minute, printed syringe symbolic of the brand. These are printed in the smallest size possible on the delicate second track of the Brunswick White.
The applied markers present a new attitude to the Brunswick. With the 2019 Brunswick Blue, Fears utilised a ’50s or even ’60s combination of wide Arabic numerals whilst the Brunswick White has always featured more whimsical counterparts. Carving a path down the middle, the raised, applied ‘Edwin’ numerals of the 2020 collection were designed by horological typographer Lee Yuen-Rapati to “act as a bridge between vintage and contemporary styling”. What, for me, is more interesting is that these numerals may form the backbone of future fears aesthetics.
Finishing off the package is the simple ‘England’ designation at the bottom of the dial. This relates to the fact that, today, Fears watches are built in England. Note that they are not ‘Made in England’ as certain parts are produced by more experienced manufacturers in Switzerland and Germany.
Fears Brunswick Salmon
Salmon dials are, for the most part, a very refined addition to any watch. When one thinks of them, it is inches from a cocktail rather than below the waterline. For the 2020 Brunswick, this is the direction in which Fears has gone.
Using the same 38 mm by 38 mm case of all which came before it, this watch is brushed and polished stainless steel with anti-reflective sapphire crystals front and back. More important is the 30 mm dial which is a beautiful novelty at this price.
Inspired by dials seen on Fears watches of the 1940s and 1950s, this dial is coated with a copper coloured galvanic coating and 18k rose gold to achieve a unique tone. It is then brushed by hand to create deep but entirely ordered vertical strakes. The effect is, I must say, remarkable when paired with thermally-blued hands. Not only is the watch legible but the dial changes from a rich, pink colour to near-silver in the correct lighting.
Fears Brunswick Midas Silver
The Fears Brunswick Midas Silver is a very different animal to its salmon-dialled sibling. With an obviously regal touch of gold in its case and dial, it lives up to its mythological name. However, this is a watch with a very English nature: it is modest, discreet and, in the correct light, even self-effacing. Make no mistake, though, it is my favourite of these two new models.
The case, whilst not new, is worthy of discussion. Produced from phosphor bronze, it is coated in successive layers of 9k yellow and 18k rose gold resulting in an undeniably unique aesthetic. Its dimensions remain the same as the standard watch yet the case back is, as standard, closed in spun (concentrically brushed) stainless steel. This, Nicholas Bowman-Scargill says, gives buyers the opportunity to have an engraving whilst also dropping the thickness by 0.3 mm.
The dial of this version initially seems more simple. This colour is produced by a rhodium galvanic coating and is vertically brushed link the salmon version. The result is remarkable as the golden case is sometimes reflected to give warmth, sometimes the silver captures the blues, purples and greens around it and sometimes it shines as pure silver. Consequently, it is probably the more versatile of the pair.
The Overall Picture
Between these watches is a new chapter for Fears and, in my opinion, one which will appeal to the customers of this brand. Fears as always been a brand focused on details rather than mass production and the handmade details of these watches certainly reflect the same attitude. Mechanically, both use the same decorated ETA (Peseux) 7001 in top grade as their predecessors but this in no way diminishes these watches.
Returning to that day in Marylebone, these watches couldn’t have felt more at home in either the cool oasis which was the restaurant or outside amongst the flowers marking the end of summer. What these watches might be is a delightful and beautifully made option as an everyday watch designed to disappear when unwelcome and to be noticed when appropriate.
Availability: Fears Brunswick Salmon: £3,150 (including VAT) / Fears Brunswick Midas Silver: £4,250 (including VAT)
- Dimensions: Salmon: 38 mm x 11.8 mm / Midas Silver: 38 mm x 11.5 mm
- Material: Salmon: Stainless Steel / Midas Silver: Phosphor Bronze Coated in 9k Yellow Gold & 18k Rose Gold, Stainless Steel
- Crystal: Domed Anti-Reflective Sapphire Crystal
- Display: Skeletonised Syringe Hands (Thermally Blued Steel or Dual Gold Plated) / Hand-Brushed Dial (Galvanic Copper & 18k Rose Gold Coated or Galvanic Rhodium Coated) / Applied ‘Edwin’ Arabic Numerals
- Water Resistance: 50 m / 165 ft / 5 ATM
- Movement: ETA (Peseux) 7001 (Top Grade): Manually Wound / 17 Jewels / 3 Hz, 21,600 vph, 6 ticks-per-second / 40-hour power reserve / Applied Fears Golden Pipette