Time goes by
STYLE: QUEEN & COUNTRY AND FEARS WATCHES
Established in the West Country, the family-run watch business Fears London is a perfect example of how far watchmaking has come. Despite the rise in smartphone use, a new passion for wrist watches led by a new generation of watchmakers is ensuring the industry’s survival. Q&C investigates the history of watches and the Fears legacy.
“It’s really clear that the most precious resource we all have is time” so said the late Steve Jobs, the co-Founder of Apple Inc. Indeed so many of us take time for granted. In a world of increasing social media use, many of us waste too much precious time. And over recent years, reports have also suggested that sales of wearable wrist watches have declined as smart phone use and sales of other gadgets have exploded.
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Thankfully, despite tech advancement, new high-quality styles and designs are seducing more and more people into buying traditional wrist watches not only as a luxurious and fashionable item of jewellery, but also a durable long-term investment.
In fact, wearable watches have their own fascinating history. Hundreds of years ago, the 15th Century to be exact, explorers found the need to determine an accurate time in order to navigate the sea. Sheer precision was the chief requirement - a minute wrong on the clock could set a journey off course by quite a considerable amount. The watch itself stemmed from this requirement of needing a portable and precise navigation tool.
Fears watches showcases watchmaking at its best, with the Fear family’s West Country business going all the way back to the 19th Century (during the era of when the first wrist watch of its kind officially made its way to the market). In 1846 Fear’s exciting journey began, when a talented young watchmaker named Edwin Fear established the first workshop and showroom on Redcliff Street in Bristol.
Over time, the hard work of three generations of the Fear family’s paid off and they grew their watch business into a well respected watch company across the United Kingdom and all over the world - 97 countries to be exact. However, this heyday was cut short in the 1970’s when the business sadly closed.
Robin Swithinbank said in a recent New York Times piece: “There is a growing belief among watch industry insiders that time is running short for the entire business.”
What with the constant influx of new tech products, and a reliance on mobile phones making it possible to read the time in countless different ways, the watch industry has been forced into a period of change with a focus on high-quality and craftmanship proving necessary to keep watches ticking over into future generations. More is definitely required to inform a new generation, about the value and versatility of the luxury watch, both to keep the market afloat, but also to recruit new watchmakers and ensure that the skills and values of watchmaking are not lost to the sands of time.
Into this changed market, a familiar name has returned. After several decades later and over two generations, Fears was reignited in 2016, with Edwin’s great-great-great Grandson Nicholas Bowman-Scargill (the 6th generation) taking over the company and releasing their first wristwatch of the 20th Century. The Redcliff is an elegant and beautiful timepiece that stands the test of durability, and is named after the very street in Bristol that housed the first workshop.
Based in Canterbury in Kent, Nicholas holds claim to being one of the only out gay watchmaking CEOs and is extremely proud about continuing the running of his successful family business. Since the moment Nicholas took over, it’s clear that Fears is now a company that looks to the future whilst respecting its remarkable heritage. He has brought the brand into the modern era of watchmaking with a passion for the craft and a deep appreciation for the remarkable efforts of his ancestors. Fears also builds all its watches here in Britain. And no matter what he comes up against, be it amongst enquiries from bloggers and style influencers as part of today's freebie culture, he will simply not give into it. Nicholas said in an interview for Riddle magazine: “This is a proper, investment watch and should be treated as such”.
In keeping with the Fears tradition of producing timeless and elegant designs of watchmaking they recently marked their 1,000 day anniversary since their relaunch in 2016 with the Fears Redcliff “Streamline” dial. It takes its inspiration from a design which was a popular variety of the Fears watch from 1946.
This elegant timepiece was designed to be worn at formal occasions and informal ones too. The watch itself came with a variable of a central seconds hand (expensive for the time) finished in a hand finished red coating which assisted the wearer in the ability to time things.
The new Redcliff “Streamline” features similar design features from its original make up. From the German galvanised dial with an antique silver colour called ‘Forties Silver’ and vertically grained finish through to a red central seconds hand and slim brushed case. It’s a truly stunning watch for all occasions.
The finished reinvented timepiece holds great historic value whilst maintaining a contemporary finish too.
With customers increasingly looking for outstanding quality in what they buy, they are guaranteed it with Fears watches. With its low annual production and hand building using the best materials, Fears is the future of the mechanical watch industry.
For all enquiries visit: www.fearswatches.com
You can also follow Fear’s story on Instagram: @fearswatches