English Independents Team Up for the “Fears Garrick”

A dress watch with a twist.

A pair of watchmakers with English roots, Fears and Garrick have banded together to create a wristwatch that bears the aesthetic of the former while relying on the mechanics of the latter, the Fears Garrick.

Founded in 1846 but having gone out of business during the Quartz Crisis, Fears is an English brand that was revived in 2016 by a descendant of its founder. Though it was not in continuous operation, Fears is now one of the oldest, family-owned English watch brands. Its modern-day offerings are all about clean, simple designs inspired by watches from its past catalogue, which are sometimes paired with period-correct, vintage movements.

Garrick, on the other hand, was founded in 2014. Sitting in a higher price point than the typical Fears, Garrick’s offerings are constructed with the help of Swiss specialists, including Andreas Strehler, and dressed up with traditional decoration such as engine turning.

David Brailsford of Garrick (left), and Nicholas Bowman-Scargill, the great-great-great-grandson of Fears’ founder

Initial thoughts

The Fears Garrick is essentially a Garrick S1, the brand’s most impressive offering to date, but redesigned to give it a simpler aesthetic. Though intriguing, the open dial of the S1 has been done away with and the result is minimalist but appealing.

I actually prefer the look of the Fears Garrick over the S1. But the Fears Garrick does bring to mind the IWC Portugieser, which is a good thing. For anyone who found the movement of S1 intriguing but prefers minimalism and legibility, this is a good alternative.

The original Garrick S1

In fact, the aim of the collaboration was to combine the watchmaking of Garrick and Fears’ trademark clean style. By that measure the joint effort is a success, since it’s been pared down just enough to be unusual for a Garrick but with enough of the Fears aesthetic that it resembles the latter’s other watches.

The twin sub-dials at the upper half of the dial are discreet but obvious, making them useful. And they are balanced by the big balance wheel at six o’clock. The result is best described as a classic dress watch with a twist (and some Portugieser vibes).

Notably, the Fears Garrick is more affordable than the open-dial S1. But the price is still about US$20,000, which might seem steep initially, especially compared with the typical Fears watch that is within the US$3,000-5,000 range.

But the Fears Garrick has a quality of make that lives up to the price. That’s most obvious in the finishing of the movement, which includes several crisp inward angles along the bevelling of the bridges, a feature uncommon in offerings at this price.

Reversed balance

Inside the Fears Garrick is the cal. UT-G04, an proprietary movement developed by Garrick with the help of independent watchmaker Andreas Strehler, who makes watches under his own name but is also a major supplier of parts and movements to other independents.

The UT-G04 is sized like a ETA Unitas 6498, the go-to base movement for many entry-level indie watchmakers, but more elaborately constructed. It has a small seconds and power reserve indicator on the dial along with an exposed balance wheel, instead of a typical construction where the balance is on the back.

Fears also contributed its own hands and typography to the dial design.

The open-worked hour and minute hands are much simpler compared with the S1, yet they possess tiny, pointed tips that make them interesting. While the hands are individually appealing, I find there are too many different types of hands on the dial.

The numerals, on the other hand, are in a font designed specifically for Fears by Lee Yuen-Rapati, a British designer and artist.

While the watch is pared back in its design, the movement is more elaborately treated. The balance bridge, for instance, is shaped and finished like a tourbillon bridge.

And the finishing on the back is even better. While the balance bridge has wide, flat bevelling along its edges, the two-thirds bridge on the back sport rounded, polished bevelling that is more difficult to execute and also incorporates several inward angles.

The unusually shaped winding click spring is mirror polished and bevelled

The finishing on dial side of the movement is similarly detailed


Key facts and price

Fears Garrick
Ref. BS84220

Diameter: 42 mm
Height: 10 mm
Material: 904L steel
Crystal: Sapphire
Water resistance: 100 m

Movement: UT-G04
Functions: Hours, minutes, seconds, and power reserve indicator
Frequency:Unavailable
Winding: Hand wind
Power reserve: 46 hours

Strap: Blue or taupe calfskin with Alcantara® lining

Limited edition: No, but with limited production of 10-15 pieces annually
Availability: Now from Fears; delivery starts December 2022
Price: 
£19,500 including UK VAT of 20%, or £16,250 excluding taxes

For more, visit fearswatches.com.


 

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Jaeger-LeCoultre Introduces the Master Control in Blue

Celebrating the 30th anniversary.

The Master Control was first conceived in 1992 as Jaeger-LeCoultre’s best offering in terms of accuracy and reliability, with every watch undergoing a 1,000-hour, in-house quality control test. While the rigorous testing was fairly novel at the time, it has since become the norm for all Jaeger-LeCoultre (JLC) watches.

But the Master Control line has lived on. Facelifted in 2020, the Master Control watches have grown moderately in size to suit contemporary states but they retain the restrained design that characterised the original range. Most of the models sport a muted silver dial, but for the 30th anniversary of the collection, JLC has introduced the Master Control Date and Master Control Calendar with tri-tone blue dials.

The simpler of the duo – the Master Control Date

Initial thoughts

My first impression of the watches is positive. Blue is a contemporary colour that nudges the aesthetic towards a more casual style, as opposed to the retro-formal look of the standard, silver-dial models.

Notably, the limited-edition pair are ore than a change of colour. The thoughtful design is evident through the details, especially with the tri-tone finish of the dial. While blue can be found practically everywhere in watchmaking, tri-tone blue is unusual and attractive. And the calendar windows reveal discs that are in blue to match the dial.

The red accents as well as the starry background of the moon phase are details that make the dial more interesting

Both watches are otherwise identical to the regular versions, which are excellent to begin with. The pair is equipped with the brand’s latest-generation movements that have 70 hours of power reserve along with simple but attractive decoration visible through the back.

Arguably the only feature that work against the two new watches are their prices. Both are 10-20% pricier than the standard versions with a silver dial. While the standard models are well priced given JLC’s status, the premium for the blue dial feels excessive considering that enough of these are being made – 800 each – that it is likely the blue dials don’t cost much more than the standard silver dials.

The movement lacks the decorative extras that are increasingly common, but it is striking thanks to the heat-blued screws and 22k pink gold rotor

Elegant proportions and sporty

Like all JLC watches, the Master Control relies entirely on in-house movements, which is unsurprising since the brand has historically been more of a movement supplier to top brands ranging from Patek Philippe to IWC, rather than a maker of watches under its own name. The know-how lies behind the brand’s diverse stable of movements, most of which are amongst the thinnest in their category. The Master Control Date, for instance, is amongst the thinnest automatics in its price range, with a case that’s just under 9 mm.

The Master Control Date is only 8.78 mm high

Of the duo, the Date is more appealing with its straightforward styling that works well with the slim case. There are no shortage of watches with blue dials, but few have the casual elegance found here – the blue dial featuring Arabic numerals for the quarters leaves it feeling effortlessly sharp.

Thicker at 10.95 mm, the Calendar is perhaps less elegant but certainly more interesting.

The date pointer makes a novel, 90-degree jump from “15” to “16” every month, so that the date pointer never stops over the small seconds or moon phase, a feature not found on the previous model.

The radial and concentric brushing on the dial are both well done, but the lacquered, pale-blue track for the seconds doesn’t have the same refined surface finishing


Key facts and price

Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Control
Ref. Q4018480 (Date)
Ref. Q4148480 (Calendar)

Diameter: 40 mm
Height: 8.78 mm (Date); 10.95 mm (Calendar)
Material: Steel
Crystal: Sapphire
Water resistance: 50 m

Movement: Cal. 899 AC (Date); cal. 866 AA (Calendar)
Functions: Hours, minutes, seconds, and date for both; Calendar with additional day, month, and moon phase
Frequency: 28,800 beats per hour (4 Hz)
Winding: Automatic
Power reserve: 70 hours

Strap: Calf skin with folding clasp

Limited edition: 800 pieces each
Availability:
 Only at boutiques
Price:
Date – US$8,700, or 12,600 Singapore dollars
Calendar – US$13,100, or 18,900 Singapore dollars

For more, visit Jaeger-lecoultre.com.


 

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