English independent watchmakers Fears and Christopher Ward have teamed up to create a new take on the jump hour complication with the Alliance 01. A collaborative effort that plays to the strengths of each brand, the Alliance 01 was made expressly for the Alliance of British Watch and Clock Makers, a trade body for horologists in the United Kingdom. It combines the minimalist, vintage-inspired aesthetic espoused by Fears with the affordable complications of Christopher Ward.
I was intrigued when I learned Christopher Ward was teaming up with Fears. At first glance, the Alliance 01 looks like another version of the Brunswick, one of Fears’ signature models since the brand’s revival six years ago. But it is best described as Fears watch containing a Christopher Ward movement. It smartly combines each brand’s strengths – Fears’ vintage-inspired styling and Christopher Ward’s accessibly-priced, simple complications.
Despite the resemblance to Fears’ other models, the Alliance 01 is appreciably different from anything Fears has done to date. But it still has the retro elegance typical of Fears, which actually makes the watch look simpler, despite the added complication.
Though the design is elegant, the Alliance 01 is chunky, especially for a watch of this style. With dimensions comparable to a Rolex Daytona, the case height of just under 13 mm mean it will sit thickly on the wrist.
If there were a bone to pick with the watch, it would be the lack of Christopher Ward branding on the dial. I would have preferred both brand names to be found on the dial, like how it was done with the Fears Garrick, for a more tangible expression of the collaboration.
The Alliance 01 costs the equivalent of US$4,000. It’s attractively priced relative to Fears’ time-only model with the same case that costs only 10% less, and also compared to the broader market for a relatively novel Sellita-powered watch.
The first collaboration
The trade body representing the interests of British watch and clock makers, the Alliance of British Watch and Clock Makers seeks to promote the industry internationally while supporting its member brands through training and education. Founded by Mike France, the chief executive of Christopher Ward, and independent watchmaker Roger W. Smith in 2020, the Alliance now counts 77 trade members, including watchmakers based in Ireland.
According to Alliance chairman Mr Smith, the organisation also hopes to serve as a launch pad for collaborations between its members. The Alliance 01 is the first collaborative to get off the ground, and it is also a fundraising project for the trade body.
Minimalist and slightly retro, the dial is in dark burgundy with a silver border for the minute register. It incorporates the jumping hour complication in a largely traditional layout. The hour aperture is at 12 o’clock, with the minute hand in an oversized register just below. As the minute hand passes the top of the hour, the numeral in the aperture “jumps” to the next hour.
The Alliance 01 uses the cushion-shaped Brunswick case from Fears but enlarged to accommodate the complication. Instead of the usual 38 mm, it is 40.5 mm wide and 12.8 mm high.
The Alliance 01 is powered by the cal. JJ101, which is made up of a proprietary jumping hour module on top of a Sellita SW200. It’s the same movement that Christopher Ward previously utilised in its C1 Grand Malvern Jumping Hour from 2017. Because the Sellita SW200 is essentially a clone of the reliable but long-in-tooth ETA 2824, it has a short power reserve of only 38 hours.
Key facts and price
Fears Christopher Ward Alliance 01
Diameter: 40.5 mm
Height: 12.80 mm
Water resistance: 100 m
Movement: Cal. JJ101
Features: Jumping-hour complication with running minutes
Frequency: 28,800 beats per hour (4 Hz)
Power reserve: 38 hours
Strap: Calf leather strap
Limited edition: 50 pieces
Availability: Only for members of the Alliance of British Watch and Clock Makers
Price: £3,291.67 excluding taxes
For more, visit Britishwatchmakers.com.
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