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Fears shows courage to create a $38,000 platinum Brunswick watch

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Fears Watch Company is marking five years since relaunching in 2016 under Nicholas Bowman-Scargill, great-great-great-grandson of Edwin Fear, who originally founded the company in 1846.

With a 5th and 175th anniversary in one, this year was never going to pass without a landmark watch, and Mr Bowman-Scargill has opted for a first version of its hand wound Brunswick in platinum.

It is the first time a Fears watch has been made from precious metal since the 1960s.

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Fears expects to make four of the Brunswick PT per year because of the amount of work by hand that is required to produce each piece.

This also accounts for the $38,000 price tag, far above the usual $4,000 to $7,000 price point in which Fears operates.

The 38mm cushion-shaped platinum case is the major investment, because it is handmade by award-winning Goldsmith Justin Richardson in Canterbury and takes 100 hours of work, according to Mr Bowman-Scargill, who visited WatchPro this week to show the watch. The case has a special hallmark from the London Assay Office using the initials Mr Bowman-Scargill’s initials, NBS.

Each watch is assembled in the same workshop as Garrick, one of Britain’s most prestigious independent watchmakers.

A price jump to £28,000 is bold, but one of the watches was ordered before the official unveiling today, WatchPro was told.

That rush to secure this highly limited watch is less surprising when you learn that there are considerable waiting lists for some Fears watches.

“We have a 90 person waiting list for our salmon dialled Brunswick,” Mr Bowman-Scargill reveals. “We make around 500 watches per year and they are selling out,” he adds.

As WatchPro has reported often this year, demand for independent watchmakers has been rocketing this year, but mainly for Swiss brands that make every element of their watches in house.

Fears is not that. Even the platinum Brunswick PT uses an ETA 7001 movement, although it has been modified with a new bridge shape, platinum plating and finishing done in the UK.

It also has a beefed up mainspring capable of driving heavier platinum hours and minutes hands that are made in England, as is the watch’s presentation box, which is produced in Warrington.

The anthracite grey dial is made in Germany with six diamond hour markers.

With one Brunswick PT sold already, and three more to go this year, Mr Bowman-Scargill will be hoping Fears can continue the momentum it gained last year.

Remarkably, despite the pandemic, Fears turnover doubled in 2020, he reveals, and survived the year without furloughing staff or making redundancies. “We even managed pay rises and hired a new recruit,” he adds.

Fears sells watches directly to clients, and through three retail partners in the UK. Mr Bowman-Scargill feels he has the capacity to work with a few more retailers, but only once he can offer them a sustainable core collection.

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Alex Douglas

The author Alex Douglas