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Fears Brunswick 38 Topper Edition ‘Silver Sector’ Watch Review

Fears Brunswick 38 Topper Edition 'Silver Sector'

When the current zeitgeist for vintage-styled watches was still nascent, Longines were one of the first to really hammer home that now ubiquitous archival angle, particularly with the gorgeous Heritage Sector Dial. It’s still part of their collection, but that initial silver and grey edition hit that elegant vintage nail on the head. It was an aesthetic formula I didn’t think could be improved on. But now thanks to the Fears Brunswick 38 Topper Edition ‘Silver Sector’, I’m not so sure – definitely a watch worth reviewing.

If you’ve not heard of Topper before, don’t worry, neither had I before they started working with Fears. I’m based in London, not Silicon Valley and I regret it regularly. Still, the Californian jeweller has been around since the 1940s, a three-generation lineage of watch selling to the well-heeled Americans of the West Coast. They’ve also been behind some fantastic collaborations in the past with Nomos Glashutte, Bremont, Oris, Zodiac, et al.

Fears Brunswick 38 Topper Edition 'Silver Sector'
Fears Brunswick 38 Topper Edition 'Silver Sector'

Fears being stalwartly British then might seem like an odd fit – until they launched their initial collaboration, a gorgeous, crisp, California dial in black and later in white. It suited the cushion-cased Brunswick perfectly, in much the same way (albeit a touch smaller and more elegant) as a Panerai. It was fun, thematic and just cool – not something I often associate with Fears.

The third watch in the ongoing partnership however is most definitely more what I’d expect from both companies, switching the California dial up for a firmly mid-century sector look. The sector nomenclature refers to having the various sections and levels to the dial – here the dark grey in the middle and the silver on the outer portion with the indexes. It’s a dial that was prevalent in the late ‘30s and early ‘40s, making it period appropriate, given that Topper was founded in 1940. It’s also more in-keeping with the nuanced, vintage sensibilities that the slightly older Bristolian watch brand loves.

Fears Brunswick 38 Topper Edition 'Silver Sector'

And it works. Many Brunswicks are… sparse is the wrong word, but let’s say take a pared-back approach in the same less-is-more vein as many dress watches. It doesn’t give them too much room for new designs, so instead they’ve more recently played with colours and materials, like blue mother-of-pearl (the stunning Aurora). The Silver Sector brings in many more different elements.

Fears Brunswick 38 Topper Edition 'Silver Sector'
Fears Brunswick 38 Topper Edition 'Silver Sector'

The central section, the dark grey, is opaline finished, which means it’s been polished using straw. Yes, that’s a thing, and it’s about as traditional as you get. It’s then been rhodium plated with the printed sectoring over the top. The slightly higher outer ring is a little simpler, with a silver- white galvanic coating, while the small seconds has a very subtle micro-guilloche to it. There are three different finishes on three different sections, without feeling like there’s too much going on.

Unlike other Brunswicks, which show one to 12 in numerals, the Silver Sector instead opts for larger three, nine and 12s, with batons in-between. The small seconds is also smaller than on other Brunswick models, meaning the six has been cut out entirely. All are beautifully applied and polished, standing very tall on the dial. None of the changes between the Topper edition and the classic Brunswick are dramatic, but they do add up and the result is my favourite Fears since the initial cushion-cased launch all those many years ago.

Fears Brunswick 38 Topper Edition 'Silver Sector'

On the wrist, it’s a typically slim, svelte piece with 38mm of streamlined cushion case. There will definitely be some of you reading this that’ll find it a touch too small; I find it pretty damn perfect. Pair it with some neutral summer linens and you have an instant garden party look. Even if it rains, the 100m water resistance will hold up better than your suit. The black Barenia leather strap finishes off the silver-to-black rainbow and is exceptionally comfortable, even from a watch brand that always nails their straps. I would be tempted to put it on a grey suede number, but black’s a safe bet.

Inside is the next stage in Fears’ mechanical brand evolution, the manual-wind La Joux Perret D100. It’s a marked upgrade from their previous Sellita movements, not just in prestige but in specs too; it now has a more-than-respectable 50-hour power reserve and far superior finishing. It basically brings the inside of the watch in line with the attention-to- detail lavished on pretty much every other part.

Fears Brunswick 38 Topper Edition 'Silver Sector'

I can see why so many brands work with Topper for collaborations. The previous California was fun and unexpected; this plays so much into Fears’ wheelhouse that I’m surprised the brand themselves hadn’t done it before now. Sometimes you just need an outside perspective and in the Silver Sector, Topper nailed it.

Price and Specs:

Model: Fears Brunswick 38 Topper Edition 'Silver Sector'
Case: 38mm diameter, stainless steel
Dial: Silver white opaline
Water resistance: 100m (10 bar)
Movement: La Joux Perret calibre D100, manual winding, 22 jewels
Frequency: 21,600 vph (3 Hz)
Power reserve: 60h
Functions: Hours, minutes, seconds, date, chronograph
Strap: Black barenia leather
Price: £3,850, limited to 40 pieces

More details at Fears.

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About the author

Sam Kessler

Legend has it that Sam’s first word was ‘escapement’ and, while he might have started that legend himself, he’s been in the watch world long enough that it makes little difference. As the editor of Oracle Time, he’s our leading man for all things horological – even if he does love yellow dials to a worrying degree. Owns a Pogue; doesn’t own an Oyster Perpetual. Yet.