The year was 1846 and a young watchmaker named Edwin Fear established a workshop and showroom in his own name at 33-35 Redcliff Street in Bristol. The company ‘Edwin Fear’ that he created became more and more successful and eventually, in 1866 needed to expand to their second premises, on Bristol Bridge, which served as Fears headquarters until the 1940s. Through this period, the company had three different Managing Directors. Following the passing of Edwin in 1877 the business was handed down to his son, Amos Daniel Fear, who in 1908 saw the company become a limited company whilst also changing its operating name from ‘Edwin Fear’ to ’Fears Limited’. Amos also safely navigated the company through the First World War, 1914-1918, after which he established an export department, called ‘Fears (Export) Limited’ at No. 14 Brunswick Square in Bristol.
In 1931 came the third Managing Director, Amos Reginald Fear and the early ‘30s saw another name change for the business - now to be named, simply, ‘Fears’. It was a tough time to take charge of the company as the World was still struggling through difficult economic conditions suffered in the wake of the infamous Wall Street Crash of late 1929. However, with determination and perseverance Fears was booming and by the end of the 1930’s was exporting to an astonishing 95 countries around the world. Then came the Second World War and the 1940-1941 German bombing campaign against the UK, known as ‘The Blitz’. All of Fears premises sustained direct hits. The Bristol Bridge headquarters was destroyed on 24th November 1940, and the Brunswick Square Export department was hit three times before it was permanently evacuated in 1942. In late 1945, following the War, Fears moved to new premises in Clifton, Bristol, just in time to celebrate the company’s centenary in 1946 with a new watch collection. Fears continued to thrive through the post-war years, until sadly closing its doors in 1976.
It was not until 2016 when an aspiring young apprentice watchmaker at Rolex in London, Nicholas Bowman-Scargill, who is the great-great-great-grandson of Edwin Fear, re-launched his family’s company at the SalonQP watch show on 3rd November 2016. Keeping the name ‘Fears’ he released their first wristwatch in the twenty-first century, the Redcliff. Rolling with the success from the Redcliff in 2017 they released their second wristwatch, The Brunswick, named after Brunswick Square in Bristol.
2019 saw the first 1,000 days since the company was re-established and to celebrate Nicholas launched a limited edition watch - the Redcliff ‘Streamline’, inspired in design and price by Fears’ original ‘Streamline’ watch from 1946. Now in 2020 Fears becomes a partner of the UK Government's "GREAT Britain Campaign". Part of the London 2012 Olympic legacy, this campaign was created to highlight the best the UK has to offer the world. Today Fears grows from strength to strength with their exquisite collection of Brunswicks and fine accessories.
Made in small batches each piece has a unique serial number engraved between the lugs at 12 o’clock. This number can identify the watch's history from its master database. The inspiration of the case comes from a Fears watch made in 1924. Its 38mm curvaceous case is made from 316L stainless steel in Germany to a level only ever seen on precious metal cases. The case has only one flat surface, its rear sapphire crystal. The depth of the polishing shines through the craftsmanship of the polisher. On the right-hand side sits a traditional onion crown Made in Switzerland. Ridges expertly printed to capture the light as you gently wind the crown to begin your day.
The domed sapphire crystal sits above a hand-polished white lacquered dial, expertly made in Germany by one of the world's finest dial makers. An outer minute track encircles the dial. Multiple layers of black are applied to the finished dial using a numeral set used by Fears in 1946. At 6 o’clock is the subsidiary seconds. The distinctive “Fears” hands are thermally blued by a flame, by their in-house expert watchmaker in the UK. This traditional method of hardening steel is unique to each watch. A practice only a handful of British watch brands actually do.
On the reverse a flat sapphire crystal. Inside we have a hand-wound ETA 7001, 17 Jewels, 18,000 beats per hour. First introduced in the 1970s it quickly gained a reputation for being reliable. Its slim design incorporates an Incabloc shock system. Each movement is serviced and hand-finished here in Britain, applying Côtes de Genève striping and Rhodium plating. Once re-assembled and thoroughly tested it receives its “Golden Pipette” which is handmade and applied to the bridge. Each watch is individually checked by Nicholas before it leaves the premises.
Fitted on a 20mm handmade Fears Blue Bristol leather strap. Its calf leather is vegetable tanned in one of Britain's oldest tannery in Bristol- Thomas Ware & Sons. The stainless steel buckle pin has the pipette logo engraved on it.
In 2016 I was fortunate enough to attend SalonQP, a watch event held in London, which, whilst allowing some of the more mainstream brands to exhibit also helps to showcase and promote smaller, luxury, boutique brands. It is here that I first came across Fears Watches. Sadly I did not get the chance to meet Nicholas on the day but I was able to have a brief “hands-on” with one of their watches on show, the Fears “Redcliff”. I briefly mentioned Fears and the watch I had seen in a video I decided to produce following the event, the aim of which was to document my experience of the show and also to share my thoughts and opinions on the watches I had seen and handled. “Really nice watches, but a bit expensive in my opinion" was my summary of Fears from memory. Out of the blue, I received a personal message from Nicholas, firstly thanking me for visiting the booth, but also to say he would love to meet up over a coffee and explain to me the pricing make-up of the watches. I was absolutely blown away, at this point I was just an 18-year-old kid who was giving his opinion on watches on social media with only a few hundred subscribers, yet Nicholas wanted to give me his time to explain the brand and the pricing structure to me. If any of you have ever met Nicholas, the one thing that is immediately apparent is his passion for Fears, there is zero question of that. For hours we talked about Fears Watches, the history, Nicholas' own story, and where he wanted to take the brand. It was following this meeting that I realised how wrong I had been. It was also the first time I really appreciated what goes into making a watch. From this point, and armed with this knowledge, my respect and admiration for the brand he is building and the watches he has created has just grown ever greater.
We regularly meet to talk business and watches in general. He has helped me no end with my own business endeavors and for that, I'll be forever grateful to him.
I have also attended most of his Fears events, not just as an attendee but as part of his team, helping with the preparations, the hosting, and the sales. From this, I have gained a far greater and in-depth knowledge of the brand and its watches. Fears is a brand I truly believe in. I have been fortunate to be able to watch the company grow from the Redcliff to the Brunswick & Archival and to see the plans that Fears have for the future. I am honored to be a part of this journey and look forward to what the future holds.