Hands-On: the Fears Redcliff 39.5 Date

The date: 3 November 2016. The place: Saatchi Gallery, London. The Fears watch company is relaunched by Nicholas Bowman Scargill in a story that most Fearsfans are now familiar with. The watch that relaunched Fears was not the popular and archetypal Brunswick, but the Redcliff Date. This quartz watch made use of the now-familiar ‘Pipette’ motif but was an altogether more everyday watch compared to the dressier Brunswick that followed a year later and catapulted Fears to success.

In late February, Fears launched an update to the Redcliff line and, to differentiate it from that original model, named it the Redcliff 39.5 Date. Nicholas was kind enough to show the range to me in a London pub just before release, and even with dingy lighting it was clear that the quality and attention to detail were present. I have now been able to spend a little more time with the Pewter Grey in some lighter surroundings, though my initial impressions remain fairly unchanged. Is this a watch for every occasion?


Jumping straight to the dial, I think this Pewter Grey is the best of the bunch. The Raven Black is probably more versatile. The Cherry Red makes a strong first impression. The ‘boutique only’ Mallard Green is a subtle gem. However, the Pewter Grey is a rich amalgamation of the best parts of each. The strong vertical brushing of the dial changes the shade from a bright and shimmering silver to a more brooding slate grey. I have to say I prefer the dial at its lightest in bright daylight, when the blue seconds hand pops and the applied numerals glint.


Hands-On: the Fears Redcliff 39.5 Date

Stainless steel
La Joux-Perret G100
Stainless steel bracelet with micro-adjustment, plus dark grey textile strap
Water Resistance
39.5 x 46.95mm
Lug Width
Screw down

All three hands feature the familiar Fears ‘pipette’ form, with the tips of the hour and minute hands just touching the minute track and hour indices respectively, while the counterweight of the seconds hand matches the shape. The distinct lack of any text on the dial other than the Fears name is refreshing. The symmetry is only thrown off by the date window in the three o’clock position which also stunts the hour index in that location. Ideally, I would like to see a no-date option and the fact that this model is named the Redcliff 39.5 Date potentially means that a watch without the ‘Date’ in the name or on the dial will be forthcoming.

Each of the indices around the dial is filled with X1 SuperLuminova, with polished chamfers surrounding them – especially noticeable on the double marker at 12 with wider polished flanks. Radial grooves run the perimeter of the minute track, with bright blue numerals marking out each 5 minute interval.

There are no prizes for guessing that the case measures 39.5mm in diameter. Lug to lug length is a shade under 47mm and, on the wrist, the watch looks exactly as you might expect. For an ‘all dial’ watch, these kinds of dimensions are fairly typical. It’s the thickness of under 10mm that has the largest influence on how it wears. The bezel is one soft curve of polished steel, and as I tend to expose all of my watches to the same environments, I would have a slight concern about how the first few scratches might impact its current cleanliness and sheen.

It has been pointed out a few times in comments on blog posts and Instagram content that the screw-down crown is on the large side. Not wide, but a little long. What has been seen can’t be unseen, but I would say looks more out of proportion in photos than I ever noticed on my wrist.

The solid case back covers a Le Joux-Perret G100 movement. Although LJP is owned by Citizen, this is a Swiss automatic caliber beating at 28,800bph. Its best feature though is the impressive 68 hour power reserve, allowing you to take it off on a Friday evening, and have it still running when you pick it up on Monday morning.

I’m a bracelet guy. If my watch has a decent bracelet, then it will spend 90% of its time in that configuration. The oyster style bracelet that comes with the Redcliff 39.5 Date is one of those decent bracelets. The three main link sections are brushed, matching the lugs, with slim polished outer sections of the center links tying the finish back to that of the bezel. The bracelet has a couple of other nice touches too, such as the on-the-fly micro-adjustment and Bristol flower enameled inside of the clasp. However, I’ve still spent more time with the watch on the grey textile strap that also comes with the package.

For some reason, the comparatively plain strap lets the watch feel a little more elevated and special, though this effect might not be as prominent with any of the other dial choices. In any case, a 20m lug width gives plenty of other options if the supplied bracelet and strap aren’t for you.

I’ve never been fond of the phrase “from the beach to the boardroom” because I spend little time in either location, but the watch really would be at home anywhere. Polished stainless steel and 150m of water resistance are two key attributes that play directly to that label. But, its strength is also its greatest challenge, as the Redcliffe 39.5 Date finds itself competing directly against some excellent, and more established, watches.

The Redcliff does everything well but perhaps lacks a little identity when compared to the brand’s existing catalog. The watch is sporty, stylish, and capable, and exhibits some impressive finishing and thoughtful flair. However, it is not a sports watch, nor is it a dress watch. You could argue the same about the Brunswick family too, especially the bracelet-equipped 40mm models, but enough time and success have allowed those watches to become quintessential “Fears” watches. Perhaps, in time, the same will be true of the Redcliff. Fears

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Brad stumbled into the watch world in 2011 and has been falling down the rabbit hole ever since. Based in London, Brad's interests lie in anything that ticks, sweeps or hums and is slightly off the beaten track.