Independent watchmaking is not what it used to be. We still have hundreds of wannabe Kickstarter brands delivering the usual polarizing goods, but there are fewer than before. As in any developing economy, there is a rising middle class — the medium-sized brands. With the safety of moving from Kickstarter gambling to regular restocking, it’s getting closer to the big-brand experience. Spoiler alert: the new Fears Brunswick 40mm fits the profile.

I’m not talking about bricks and mortar. Let’s just accept the fact that online purchasing is ever on the rise. I even have a confession to make: 90% of my watch purchases are sourced from the internet, even if I have ADs close to me. And yes, it does have something to do with my favoritism of indie brands like Fears, but really, what have I lost? In most cases, I know perhaps more than the shop assistant at any watch emporium near me, and unless I’m spending €10K+, there’s not even a coffee being served. I actually prefer the anticipation of a package on the way, and even more so if it comes from somewhere far-flung like Japan. Or, as in this case, the British Isles.

The New Fears Brunswick 40mm

The Fears size upgrade — Is it necessary?

Well, that’s up for debate, even in my own mind. While I love the original 38mm Fears Brunswick (ooh, that purple one!), I see the reasoning behind the upsizing. Heck, the original and this new model together could make for a good two-watch starter collection for a cushion-case lover. Consider the new 40mm reference a sportier sibling, and you’ll get the picture. It is at once recognizably Fears while being its own thing and more than simply a 2mm increase. Three colors, including a rather flashy flamingo pink, mark this “toughening up” of the Brunswick, bringing their own personalities to the table. With the rounded delights of a cushion case, 40mm is not large. Nevertheless, it will allay the fears of the sub-40mm doubters out there.

A bracelet changes things

Up close, what gets your attention first is a bespoke five-link bracelet in milled stainless steel, marking the change in attitude. While I haven’t tried it on yet, the links look subtly brushed and rounded, and the bracelet closes with a butterfly clasp. The sportier demeanor still maintains the elegance of the brand, and the individual links should ensure wrist-hugging comfort. The case has a recognizable Brunswick cushion shape, and the brushed top does a good job of echoing the two finishes on the bracelet. This studied use of soft brushing also does a great job of hiding the odd hairline, as this 100m-depth-rated Fears is meant for tougher situations, perhaps while the salmon-colored 38mm Brunswick rests on its cushion at home. The case is also still shirt-cuff-sleek at only 11.06mm thick including the sapphire crystal.

The New Fears Brunswick 40mm

Two other changes make the Brunswick a triple treat

As Fears brand owner Nicholas Bowman-Scargill puts it, “After the success of the original Brunswick with its 38mm case design, I’m delighted that we’re now able to introduce a larger, automatic version.” Yes, this time we have an automatic movement in the Elaboré-grade ETA 2824-2 with a custom Fears rotor. But the dial is where most of the action is for me, the dialaholic. The dark blue shade is particular to the brand, and Bowman-Scargill is happy to see it return. He says, “It’s great to see the return of the Fears Blue dial color on a watch in our collection, joined by clean and contemporary colors across the new range.” And another new move proves how much of a difference a fresh pair of hands can make. The diamond-cut pipette-shaped hands are bold and in keeping with the new image with a sharp bevel down the center.

Too big or big love?

I will admit to not having seen a big change at first glance, but the searing pink-flamingo color must have dazzled my senses because, alas, I was wrong. The studied combination of the case and bracelet execution coupled with the new, less quirky hands will no doubt charm a wider audience. The applied Edwin numerals still do it for me, and the juxtaposition of the elegant blue stepped dial with the steel is nothing but suave. Opt for the bright pink dial, and you’ll have a bold, eye-catching piece with black details. The opaline silver dial offers great one-watch versatility with a fresh tonality and a great pop of red.

Me? I have developed a thing for the Fears blue. Something about it just gives me bespoke-suit vibes. As a sports watch, the bracelet somehow gives the cushion case a more muscular appearance. And yes, I still love any onion-shaped crown I can lay my hands on. This is a brilliant upscaling of a strong design and a very British, bespoke take on the classic sports watch. Each piece is individually numbered and available for £3,750 from Fears.

That, my friends, is the new Fears Brunswick 40mm, and I rather like it. Does the bracelet do it for you, or would you still prefer the small delights of a 38? Let us know in the comments below, ladies and gentlemen.

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