Another week, another series of releases from various brands. While my sentiment about brands packing their releases in the same week still stands, we do have an interesting mix of releases as well as industry news to keep things fresh. This week, we’ve had Bremont bringing large scale watch manufacturing back to the UK, Wolf hitting record sales, new divers from Omega and Glashutte, new GMTs from Norqain and Fears going deeper into precious metals. These are the top 7 things in the world of watches last week. Let’s get into it.
WOLF hits record sales in 2020
Photo Credit: WatchPro
The world may have mostly come to a standstill in 2020, but that did not deter WOLF, supplier of premium watch winders and jewellery storage solutions, from hitting record sales. According to Chloe Spencer, sales director for WOLF, the lockdowns that most went through were booster shots that pushed the brand’s sales into record levels, contrary to initial expectations. Unsurprisingly, the majority of this spike in sales was attributed to online sales. Interestingly, drop shipping was a major contributor to this spike in sales and WOLF took full advantage of it by being willing to handle the administrative and logistical aspects of fulfilment, something that many retailers would have struggled with. While I have never purchased anything from the brand before, it is encouraging to know get further confirmation that the industry is chugging along just fine despite all the doom and gloom of 2020. It also further cements the benefit of adapting to the digital space, something that the relatively old school industry was mostly resistant to before the pandemic forced its hand.
Bremont opens its Manufacturing & Technological Centre
Photo Credit: WatchPro
Bremont may not always have had the best reception because of their pricing choices, but there is no doubt that they have done their part to bring attention to the watchmaking heritage that the UK has had in the past. They are now making another major push for this cause with the opening of the brand’s Manufacturing & Technological Centre. While some of the world’s best watchmakers hail from the UK, like Roger Smith, and there are well established brands such as Christopher Ward and anOrdain in the UK, this is the first time that industrial-scale watch manufacturing has been brought back to the UK since the industry moved to Switzerland. Along with the recently formed British Watch & Clock Makers Alliance, this move helps edge the UK a a bit closer to recovering some of the prestige it used to have as the centre of horological prowess.
Fears releases platinum Brunswick Platinum
While on the topic of British watchmaking, one company that has made a real name for itself in recent years is Fears. Fears was restarted in 2016 by Nicholas Bowman-Scargill, who has been on the Scottish Watches Podcast several times, and has established itself as a producer of high quality, dressy watches at affordable prices. Until now that is., with the brand just releasing its first platinum watch. The brand has dabbled in precious metals before, with the Brunswick Midas being cased in an alloy of bronze and yellow gold, but this is the first time the brand has used a fully precious metal case. At £28,200, the watch is still relatively affordable for a full platinum watch, and I am certain that the same care, if not more, would have been put into the quality and finishing on the watch. The brand has wisely chosen the Brunswick, which really has become something of a flagship for the brand, as the dressy vibe of the 38mm x 38mm cushion case is the perfect option for a platinum watch. The applied numerals that alternate with diamond indices, further enhance that dressy theme and along with the sort of stepped dial also gives insight to the attention to detail that has been put into this release. The strap of choice is a dark grey canvas, that has none of the dressiness of the case, but interestingly does not clash tonally. Overall, this is understated elegance at its finest and a fantastic release from the brand. For more on this piece, check out Rikki’s video on Scottish Watches.
Omega’s Seamaster 300 in Bronze Gold
Omega has never been one to shy away from coming up with its own gold alloys, having already released watches in Sedna, Moonshine and Canopus gold. It has now ventured into bronze, with its own alloy termed Bronze Gold. One of the key advantages of the brand’s alloy is the resistance to surface corrosion that allows it to use a case back of the same material instead of having to use a steel case back which is a solution most brands opt for. Despite this added corrosive resistance, Omega has designed it such that the alloy will still patina, just in a very specific way, a choice I fully appreciate, having seen some extreme instances of deliberate patina on bronze watches. This material is aptly debuted on the Seamaster 300 series because the ability to patina is a perfect foil for the series’ vintage aesthetic. This is taken even further with the brown ceramic bezel and fauxtina-ed lume on the hands and indices. Fauxtina is certainly controversial but it is a design aesthetic that works really well on this iteration, in my opinion. Overall, I think this is a very interesting release from the brand, and I look forward to seeing it in person.
Omega’s Seamaster 300m Black Black
Omega seems to be content dabbling with special materials this week, with its other release being a Seamaster 300m in ceramic. The name “Black Black” while comical, also serves to emphasise the blackness of this watch, given that it is entirely rendered in black ceramic. That includes includes the bezel, helium escape valve and the crown. The bezel is features a sort of pebbled finish, that is similar to what was first used on the Nekton Edition and drew comparisons with a Rolex Yachtmaster. Similarities aside, I find this bezel refreshing given that we have been flooded with shiny ceramic bezels for more than a decade now. The dial, hands and indices on this release are also blacked out, and even the lume is rendered in “black anthracite” that allows it to achieve an almost black look. Is there is a need for an entirely blacked out diver? No. However, it is certainly a cool look and assuming legibility isn’t an issue, it is something that would be really fun to wear. Now if there wasn’t a helium escape valve…
Glashutte Original SeaQ in Reed Green
Glashutte may be a region more commonly associated with the more haute horology, but Glashutte Original has also demonstrated that it is more than capable of doing sports models with both a modern and vintage aesthetic. The SeaQ line, first launched in 2019 sits firmly in the latter category. This week, the brand has released its latest iteration, in it refers to as “Reed Green” which is a shade that sits somewhere between olive and forest green. Green is a colour of choice that has become far more common today that it used to be, and the shade on this watch, at least in pictures looks wonderful. This new release, and the whole line in general, is solid alternative to the widely sought after offerings from Rolex. In fact, to me, this watch might be more wearable with its 39.5mm x 12.15mm dimensions. Although it may be priced higher at retail (not a Rolex diver could bought at retail by most), it is certainly also held to a higher standard of finishing and watchmaking in general.
Frederique Constant Slimline Monolithic Manufacture
Finally, Frederique Constant has proven with its latest release that you do not have to be a high end watchmaking brand to develop innovative feats. I am far from a movement expert and am clearly only touching on the tip of the iceberg but here are the basics of the brand’s latest achievement. Traditionally, mechanical movements are regulated by a balance wheel and hairspring that functions as an oscillator that draws energy from a wound spring. What Frederique Constant has developed is radically different, using the elasticity of a single, jointless piece of silicon to regulate the oscillations of the movement. Practically, this reduces the wear and tear one the movement as there are no joints, unlike a traditional oscillator which has multiple components that rub against each other constantly. It also allows for a slimmer movement, and has a far higher frequency, 40hz to be exact, which translate to a smoother sweep of the second hand. Ironically, the brand has chosen an extremely traditional watch to debut its most innovative movement yet i.e. a round dress watch with Roman numerals. Still, the watch is worth consideration given the technology in it. As a bonus, you can view that technology from the front, because of the cut out in the dial at 6 o’clock. It is a very affordable watch too given all that is packed into it, at EUR 4,495 for the steel variant and EUR 14,495 for the gold version. For a more in depth description, check out Monochrome’s article on this release.
So that is it for this week. As always, do sign up for the newsletter from the Scottish Watches so the latest podcasts, videos and articles come straight to you for quicker entertainment or get in on all the action on the Scottish Watches website, YouTube Channels (Scottish Watches, Scottish Watches Live & Scottish Watches Unboxed) as well as of course, the podcasts on your podcaster of choice. Till next time, take care everyone.