For some of you, the bold case shape will be instantly recognizable as a Schofield creation. But while it is indeed symbolic of the brand, this is a very different product of Giles Ellis’s furtive imagination. Does it set the tone for what can be a stand-alone totem of a watch or a new line of Schofield futurism? By introducing the Schofield Obscura, Giles sure awakens my curiosity.

This time, the keeper of the Sussex, UK-based small brand has embraced ancient metal-crafting techniques, resulting in an intriguing case. While the trademark shape still seems big, this metallurgic showpiece deserves every millimeter of wrist real estate it occupies.

Introducing The Schofield Watch Company Obscura

The result of a seven-year creative process

Giles Ellis and his Schofield brand have surprised us this year. After spending the last few years carefully tweaking Schofield’s well-known 44mm watch designs, we see the results of Giles’s inner thoughts. And they are about more than beautifully spare dial designs and innovative treatments of steel and bronze. Watches like the Beater B3 and the Japanese-tinted B4 have surprised many with their wrist-hugging comfort. With a 44mm base and 42mm bezel, this size remains. Except for the creation of the new 40mm-sized Light, the brand’s first “small” case, the ethos has remained solid.

Introducing The Schofield Watch Company Obscura

Refreshingly, Schofield’s prices have rarely increased over the last almost 15 years, except for one watch. The Blacklight was a glorious, small-scale creation in a new carbon fiber composite called Morta for about £10K. And now we have a similar halo piece of wristwear in the Obscura after considerable time on the drawing board. Given the seven-year creative process behind it, Giles says of its release: “It is my best work, and finally I can retire, happy. I am not retiring, of course, and probably never will, the point being the Obscura is unfettered by expense, detail, materials, and craftsmanship. [It is] a watch that could only ever be made now, with the experience, team, and makers accumulated over the last 15 years.”

Introducing The Schofield Watch Company Obscura

On the wrist and in the dark

I haven’t worn the Obscura on my wrist yet. However, I know it boasts the same ergonomic shape and seemingly large size as my now-sold Signalman. It might be broad with long lugs, but many brands can learn from a small fact: the Schofield lugs protrude a few millimeters below the case back. This makes for smooth comfort, but this time, the case is a multi-patterned artwork. The result of a complex forging technique, an intricate industrial texture frames an odd dial. As you can see from the image above, this one truly comes to life after dark.

Introducing The Schofield Watch Company Obscura

With a vibrant mix of Super-LumiNova within the circular tracks, markings, and hands, it’s a Jekyll-and-Hyde affair. And that is meant as a big compliment. The dial is a complex, multi-layer job with a dark gray ruthenium base color and silky matte texture. Above this, sage-green and black paddle hands quietly move, marking the hours and minutes. Their design is a slightly edgier take on what we’ve seen on the Light, but the small seconds pointer at 6 o’clock is the star. The minuscule blue lollipop seems to have a life of its own, spinning outside a gray circle, balancing out the engraved “0” at 12 o’clock. Lumed up, it comes across as a nod to the British home of Schofield in red, white, and blue.

Introducing The Schofield Watch Company Obscura

Forged steel with a vivid life of its own

The patterns in the case draw me in. I understand Giles’s description of the Obscura’s alien vibe — “Something (when housed in its canister) that if discovered in the undergrowth should probably be left alone or handed in. This is a watch of suspicious origins, perhaps military, perhaps alien.” Indeed, it looks like something that is not from this planet. Rendered in stainless steel, the case bears a Damascus finish, mostly known from the world of sword- and knife-making. Unlike anything I’ve seen, it has an organic look that will vary for each watch case. The only contrast comes from the dark DLC crown, intricate in shape and topped with a blazingly lumed SWC logo.

Introducing The Schofield Watch Company Obscura

The Obscura case is forged by Vegas Forge in the US by gigantic Nazel hammers smashing layers of steel together. But here, they do not form the wave-like patterns we’re used to. No, this pattern resembles lizard skin or some alien life form. It has a “cellular” structure that, at first sight, looks like a superconductor material. But it is matte, textured, and finished by hand at Schofield’s Sussex base. Only 40 of these Obscura watches will be made, each featuring an acid-etched surface for added texture. Yes, there’s a lot to unpack here, including the bronze bushings in the strap-bar holes. Here, threaded and recessed strap bars hold the signature Schofield straps securely. Cost-saving is not an issue familiar to Mr. Ellis, and it shows.

Introducing The Schofield Watch Company Obscura

Where does the Schofield brand go from here?

At this point, anything is possible, and the Obscura has been delightfully non-linear in design compared to the rest of the range. But while both this €10K+ star piece and the Light are new designs, there is still a common thread. It is one of clarity and an obsession with details where gloss and polish are absent. I can see Giles’s love of Japanese craftmanship in each watch from the Sussex studio, but remember to look closely. We are much too easily swayed by the glamour of Zaratsu and white gold hands polished to within an inch of their lives. With the Obscura, you will find more layers to unpack than in a perpetual calendar but in a much quieter, understated form.

The pink-red-glowing SWC crown controls a hand-wound Unitas/ETA 6498-2 caliber with 46 hours of power reserve. And unlike with all other Schofield watches, the movement can be viewed through the strange but fascinating choice of not one, not two but three gray PVD-smoked sapphire crystals. The broad, soft strap is made of gray Cloud leather, an Italian-tanned and British-finished calfskin with a mottled and matte finish. The underside features a bark-pattern calfskin lining with a green foiled logo, complementing this multi-faceted British design. Finally, the Obscura is temptingly and understandably priced at £9,558 including VAT (UK / free shipping) or £7,965 excluding VAT (US, Canada, Europe, ROW + shipping). It is available now, exclusively from Schofield Watch Company.

How about it, Fratelli? Is modern, forged steel your thing? Let me know what you think about the alien-like Schofield Obscura in the comments below.

Watch specifications

Rhodium gray, multi-level with machined grooves filled with Super-LumiNova
Case Material
Forged Damascus stainless steel with cellular finish and acid etching
Case Dimensions
44mm/42mm (diameter at base/bezel) × 52.7mm (lug-to-lug) × 15mm (thickness without lugs)
Box-style sapphire with Swiss AR coatings in green or red
Case Back
DLC-coated and brushed stainless steel with three-window display and PVD-smoked gray sapphire crystals
Unitas/ETA 6498-2: manual winding, 18,000vph frequency, 46-hour power reserve, 17 jewels, Geneva stripes, blue screws
Water Resistance
20 ATM (200 meters)
Gray Cloud leather (24/22mm) with calf lining
Time only (hours, minutes, small seconds)
£9,558 including VAT (UK with free shipping) / £7,965 excluding VAT (US, Canada, Europe, and ROW + shipping)
Special Note(s)
Limited to 40 pieces