What's ticking? All the latest watch news from across London

 
Alex Doak

Salon selectives

Last night, the doors of Chelsea’s Saatchi Gallery opened once again for the annual extravaganza that is SalonQP – back for an eighth year. What started as something of an insider’s showcase has become an integral part of the global watch-event calendar; for many brands a chance to premier their latest timepieces exclusively for an European audience, as well as allow that audience the chance to actually get their hands on the product, and meet the watchmakers behind it – a crucial difference between this and other, loftier affairs. This year’s highlights include an exclusive launch from Chopard celebrating its top-end L.U.C. collection’s 20th anniversary (see page 24 for more), a particularly special limited edition from Montblanc (the Orbis Terrarum Great Britain pictured right, available in only five pieces from Montblanc’s Bond Street boutique, £5,600), plus an entirely English-made mechanical watch from Lincolnshire watchmaker Robert Loomes.

SalonQP runs till Saturday 5th November at the Saatchi Gallery, Duke of York Square SW3, and tickets are still available for Friday and Saturday, from £20: salonqp.com/exhibition

Ladies first

On Thursday 20th October, halfway up The Shard, a little bit of horological history was made, thanks to a pioneering initiative from an online watch magazine. Playing to a packed house of journalists, aficionados and tastemakers, the inaugural Eve’s Watch awards celebrated and rewarded women’s watches for the first-ever time. And to paraphrase Eve’s Watch’s slogan, it really is about time, as the spending power of the fairer sex has increased year on year in the luxury sector, with improved interest and appreciation for what goes on beneath a watch dial meaning more and more brands are thinking beyond the usual “shrink, pink” treatment of men’s watches.

Among a glittering roster of brands and personalities walking away with gongs was Woman of the Year, Rebecca Struthers – a gifted young Birmingham watchmaker, who as well as working with her husband Craig on their eponymous brand, is soon to be the UK’s first ever doctor of antiquarian horology (pictured above left). She used her award to highlight how far women have come in watchmaking, commenting: “While women have been heavily involved in this industry for centuries, before now our participation has largely been hidden behind closed doors, or dressed as marketing aimed at men buying gifts rather than the independent female shopper buying for herself.”

Other key awards of the night were Brand of the Year, going to Bulgari, and Watch of the Year, which Eve’s Watch’s judging panel voted unanimously in favour of Chanel’s surefire future classic, the Boy.Friend (pictured above right, in beige gold, £11,000).

See the full winner’s list at eveswatch.com, and check out Rebecca Struthers’ beautiful creations at struthers-london.co.uk

Son of all Fears

To a growing roster of homegrown horological talent, we can now add the newly launched Fears – a revival of a sizeable watchmaking name from Bristol, which has lain dormant since the late Fifties. It’s the brainchild of one Nicholas Bowman-Scargill, the 29-year-old great-great-great-grandson of Edwin Fear, who founded the family firm in 1846. Having been the customer-facing watch technician at Rolex’s UK headquarters on St James Square for five years, it’s fair to say he knows his stuff – as is evident from the handsome specimen pictured here.

Funded entirely by savings, and designed by the youthful Londoner himself, the Redcliff – named after Fears’ first address in Bristol – is crafted by an undisclosed third-party Swiss watchmaker, powered by a quartz Ronda 515 movement (hence the archaic dial marking) and yours for a very reasonable £650.

“The Redcliff has nostalgic elements to the design, all of which draw from historical Fears watches,” Bowman-Scargill explains. “But I was careful not to put a date under the logo; nowhere does it say ‘1846’. So many brands have their heritage shoved down their own throat, but I don’t want to be tied down in that way.

“I want Fears to be a watch you can wear daily and reply upon.”

Fears watches are available to purchase at fearswatches.com

A little Brit Swiss

As you’ll learn from page 32, watch and automotive hook-ups are one of the more unpredictable aspects of the luxury world – especially as the biggest luxury marques (Aston Martin, Bentley, Ferrari, Lamborghini, Maserati) have already been snapped up (by Richard Mille, Breitling, Hublot, Blancpain, Bulgari), so watch brands hungry for some high-octane cross-pollination are having to cast their net wider. The latest partnership to be announced is that of Zenith and Land Rover, which while out of the blue to say the least, does make sense – from their similarly aspirational but still affordable luxury status, to a shared design language of clean, contemporary functionality. The first fruit to be born combines the two brands’ respective icons – a limited edition of the revolutionary high-frequency El Primero chronograph (£6,400) designed in tribute to the Range Rover – both launched in 1969 and both going strong to this day. Its ceramicised aluminium case alludes to the vehicle’s own chassis, and the dial shimmers with a stealthy brushed finish, understated and sophisticated, again, rather like the car. We approve. zenith-watches.com

How to join the Avengers

Nobody does big watches quite like Breitling, and this new chronograph, with a standout 50mm “XXL” diameter, is as big as they come. The rugged, performance timepiece is also a world’s first, featuring the only watch case made from an ultra-sturdy, ultra-light, futuristic material named Breitlight. This proprietary material is 3.3 times lighter than titanium and 5.8 times lighter than steel (but significantly harder), making it ideal for use in the field. Its mottled appearance also fits perfectly with the rugged overall effect, further accentuated by the black colouring with yellow accents. Fulfil all your childhood dreams of being a super-spy by kitting your wrist out with this ridiculously cool timepiece; if the Avengers were real, and they wore watches, they’d wear one of these. breitling.com

Automatic for the people

It was only a matter of time before British newbie watchmaker Farer (no relation to Brit brand Fears, also featured here) ventured beyond battery-and-quartz territory into bona-fide Swiss-mechanical territory, as it is a brand vividly inspired by the plucky adventurism of explorers past, whose wrists would of course be equipped with nothing else. What’s more, Farer’s manufacturing partner is Roventa-Henex, who are ‘ghost watchmakers’ for some of Switzerland’s biggest players and therefore get first dibs when it comes to Switzerland’s rarefied supply of automatic movements. Whether it’s quartz, mechanical or steam power, we just love the bright, unabashedly retro charm of the new Beagle, pictured here (£875). farer.com

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