After a four-year hiatus, Fears is bringing back its debut model, and with it is showing a sporty side the brand has apparently been hiding since its (re)founding in 2016. When Nicholas Bowman-Scargill relaunched his family’s watch brand — he is the fourth Managing Director — it was with the Fears Redcliff, a quartz watch that took cues from historic Fears models, including its markers and hands. The last Redcliff was produced in 2020, and since then, the brand has delivered a number of models, from The Archival that used vintage NOS movements to a collaboration with Christopher Ward for the Alliance of British Watch and Clock Makers.  The new Redcliff 39.5 Date reimagines the original Redcliff into the sportiest look we’ve seen from the brand, including the first appearance of lume or a round case on a regular production piece since the Redcliff debuted.

The New Fears Redcliff 39.5 Date wasn’t some overnight idea that was whipped up on a whim. It started when the original Redcliff was still available, in October of 2019. If you recall, shortly after that time, the world went into a downward spiral (from which it seems only recently to have emerged). Then, the company moved its headquarters back to Bristol, England, where it had been founded over 175 years prior. And the watch’s design was scrapped twice during development. But now, finally — finally! — it’s ready. The new Redcliff takes the case of its predecessor and refines it all. The size is bumped up from 38mm to 39.5mm, with the new model having an easy-wearing 47mm lug-to-lug and a downright elegant 9.95mm thickness. From the press shots and the spec sheet, this is likely to wear incredibly well on most wrists. While the general silhouette is very similar to the original, the bezel has been made wider, and while it remains polished, the lugs get a brushed finish, all of which affords a more sporting look.

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The Redcliff 39.5 Date features a signed screw-down crown and a sapphire crystal with AR coating, boasting 150m water resistance — matching the existing Brunswick 40 for the deepest rated Fears. The new Redcliffs will each come with a two-piece nylon textile strap (black or grey, depending on the model) lined with Alcantara leather and fitted with a custom pin buckle closure. Each will come with a quick-release custom-made 3-link bracelet with fitted end links, brushed and polished finishing, and a foldover clasp with a push-button micro-adjustment mechanism. As a bit of an Easter egg, the inside of the clasp is decorated with a green and red Lychnis chalcedonica — the Bristol flower. The case is only half the equation of course, but even without considering the dial, the move away from the brand’s dressier models is clear: more so than any other Fears, this is a watch that warrants the Go Anywhere, Do Anything label.

The Redcliff 39.5 Date will be made available in three models, plus two special edition offerings. The first is undoubtedly the most contemporary among the Pewter Grey, Cherry Red, and Raven Black. The Pewter Grey features a vertically brushed dial, black gold-plated hands and indices, and an electric blue seconds hand that gives it a pop of color contrast lacking in the other models (which is matched by the chapter ring printing). All four dials have a lowered, grooved chapter ring with second/minute markings. Unlike the Pewter Grey model, the Raven Black and Cherry Red have a sunburst finish, but they all have a 3 o’clock color-matched date framed by a rather wide beveled window. I always like to ensure that date windows are thoughtful and intentional, and this one seems to be both (though I’m sure it won’t be without its detractors).

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The hands are the signature Fears hands, but the hour markers have been changed. Gone are the pipette markers that truly made the dial of the original stand out. They are replaced with more traditional baton markers, with the 12 o’clock marker taking a double baton and an overall form that reminds me of the 12 o’clock marker on the Grand Seiko Tentagraph. The hands and all the markers are filled with Super-LumiNova, and while there weren’t any press shots of it, I’m trusting enough of the brand’s QC that I’m sure the lume is even and bright. Considering the dial, there’s a part of me that wishes the new Redcliff kept the pipette markers. But there’s another, immediately adjacent part of me that realizes that was probably part of one of the scrapped designs. Evolution sometimes requires sacrificing things that we consider part of our identity, and I think that’s the decision that was made in relaunching the Redcliff. Kill your darlings, right?

In addition to the three general-release models, there will be two non-limited special editions. The first is a boutique edition available only at the company’s Bristol headquarters. This will feature a mallard-green sunburst dial and an indigo two-piece strap (in addition to the bracelet). The second is a bit more intriguing: a very Mad Men-style “Onyx” model exclusive to U.S. authorized dealer Collective Horology. This edition has a stone dial made of onyx that pulls the Redcliff toward a cleaner, dressier look. The case is fully polished, and while the hands remain lumed, the dial features simple white and silver printing. Considering the bracelet finishing would clash, this is smartly just being offered with a black Barenia leather strap and is priced at $3,600 USD. (The Redcliff bracelet is, however, offered as a $400 add-on.)

Though hidden by a solid caseback, the movement in the Fears Redcliff 39.5 Date is perhaps the starkest difference between it and the original model. Instead of a Swiss quartz movement, the new models are powered by the Swiss automatic La Joux-Perret G100, executed in its top grade. This is a movement we’re seeing more and more of from brands looking to deliver a top-of-the-line timepiece without resorting to in-house claims or high-end [read: wildly expensive] watchmaking. The LJP G100 delivers a 68-hour power reserve at 28,800 vph, and in this grade, is tested in four positions to -/+7 seconds per day. While concealed behind the caseback, the movement does have striping and blued screws, plus a custom rotor that is decorated with the same Bristol flower as the inside clasp.

Intentionally or not, this is the Fears watch that I think has the fewest niche elements to it and will thus have the broadest appeal. There’s a part of me that laments such a shift toward a more common design, but I still find the watches incredibly attractive. Having had a chance to handle a late prototype of this watch, I can attest to the exceptional quality, which is consistent with every other Fears watch I’ve handled. This model, then, delivers two things: a sports watch for existing fans of the brand and a more approachable point of entry for newcomers. Either way you slice it, it seems like a win. The Fears Redcliff 39.5 Date is priced at $3,300 USD. For more information, please visit the Fears website

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