December 1, 2022
by Mike Razak
The Horological British Invasion is in full swing. Unless you’ve been intentionally shielding yourself from watch releases for the last, say, five years, you’ve certainly heard of brands like Bremont and Christopher Ward. In stature, those brands may be considered The Beatles and The Rolling Stones of this watch wave, but just like the lesser-known bands of the 1960s cultural phenomenon, there are plenty of watch brands worthy of your attention. One of the most exciting brands, in my opinion, is Farer. We’ve reviewed a few of its models, but it’s been quite a while, and Farer has been very busy. The brand now has an expansive catalog of 12 collections made up of more than 38 models (and insists on giving every variant a different model name). The Stanhope II, however, is unique among them for being the first and, as yet, the only model Farer has iterated upon. The Stanhope II builds off the original Stanhope model from 2018 with a refined case and slightly updated dial, demonstrating the brand’s ability to keep improving.
The original Stanhope was a blend of sporty and dress, Farer’s first cushion case model, with a hand-wound movement and a textured dial with a colorful minute track. The Farer Stanhope II continues the main idea of the original, borrowing its dial while significantly changing the case. The trouble (or not) with cushion cases is that the squarer they get, the more prominent they sit on the wrist. The original Stanhope had slightly bowed edges and straight lugs that stuck out like prongs, offering no real reprieve for the case, nor any continuity from case to strap (to wrist). That’s the biggest difference with the new Stanhope II: a case design that maintains the cushion case ideal while delivering a silhouette that is far more graceful on the wrist.
The new Farer Stanhope II features a slightly larger 38.5mm case that’s a bit thicker, too, at 10.5mm. Despite the new measurements, the case wears just as well as its predecessor, and that’s down to its new design. The updated case dispenses with the traditional cushion case model and, instead, blends a tonneau style with cushion cues. The high-polished case features a gentle curve along the sides, with 20mm lugs that curve down and are pinched at the end. This foundational case form allows the watch to sit more easily on the wrist, as the lugs continue the lines down onto the wrist. But Farer has added a twist: on top of the base tonneau case is a cushion-shaped bezel, recalling the outline of the original model and adding a unique character to the new one. The case is water resistant to 50m and paired with a curved sapphire crystal and Farer’s signature crown, which features fine fluting and a bronze cap embossed with the Farer logo. I found the crown to be easy to operate, offering adequate grip and smooth winding. The watch is paired with a smooth, comfortable blue leather strap with a branded pin buckle.
Notwithstanding the redesigned case, the dial is what’s going to draw most people to this watch. While the case exudes a more formal vibe, the dial is decidedly less stuffy. There’s plenty of dimensionality between the white piqué central dial with its applied indices, the recessed small seconds, and the sunken minute track with raised hour markers, and it works well juxtaposed with the smooth, flowing case lines. The color scheme here is kept rather tight, despite looking busy: white, red, and two shades of blue are balanced throughout. While some of the dial may seem black, that’s actual a very deep blue; even the rounded handset—previously steel—is finished in dark blue and infilled with Super-LumiNova. The only other lume is applied to the raised hour markers on the outside track (it’s those little blue dots). The lume is certainly adequate, though nothing to brag about. While I enjoy the texture of the center dial, what I like most is how the polished indices and the glossy surface of the hands catches the light every once in a while. There’s something that keeps you coming back to see if the light is just right and is catching the dial in a way to bring it to life (that something is called variable ratio reinforcement, and it’s also why slot machines are so addictive).
For the Stanhope II, the movement has been upgraded from the ETA 7001 to a Sellita SW216. Both movements are hand-wound, but the Sellita offers measurable improvements. It’s important to know that the ETA 7001 was a movement that had received scant upgrades since its introduction by Peseux in the 1970s; at the time, it was perfectly adequate with its 17 jewels and 18,000 vph rate. Modern watches, though, require modern movements, and the Sellita SW216 is just that. With 24 jewels and a 28,800 vph beat rate, the Sellita also features a 42-hour power reserve (though Farer says about 45 hours on a full wind). The only thing that may be considered a drawback is that the Sellita is almost 2mm thicker, resulting in a case that is also almost 2mm thicker; as discussed, this isn’t really a problem. Delivered in its elaboré grade, the SW216 is adjusted to three positions and accurate to -/+ 7 seconds per day and features blued screws, perlage, and a custom Farer bridge decorated with an interlocking Farer logo pattern that calls to mind M.C. Escher.
The Farer Stanhope II has the only fully polished case in the brand’s catalog, making it one of the brand’s dressier timepieces. But the textured dial with the sporty minute track belies this dressiness, pulling the watch toward something more casual and fun. The watch impresses in its wearability and character, delivering a charming hybrid of casual design and elegance, with very little to complain about. Farer recently released three new dials in the same cushion case, all of which are a bit more formal and leave the Stanhope II alone to strike the balance between the office and the weekend. As I consider it further, the Farer Stanhope II offers such a design that, for the right person, it could serve as his or her only watch. For me, a life with one watch is a life unlived, so I may just have to find space in the watch box. The Farer Stanhope II is priced starting at $990 USD, depending on strap choice. You can find out more by visiting the brand’s website.
>Model: Stanhope II
>Price: $990+ (depending on strap selection)
>Size: 38.5mm-wide, 10.5mm-thick, 43.8mm lug-to-lug
>When reviewer would personally wear it: Given its blend of casual dial design and clean case design, I’d be comfortable wearing this anywhere.
>Friend we’d recommend it to first: Someone who doesn’t mind hand-winding and is looking for a balanced watch that can check more than one box.
>Best characteristic of watch: Unique blend of cushion and tonneau case styles; sporty dial sets it apart from Farer’s other cushion case options.
>Worst characteristic of watch: High-polish finish makes it a magnet for blemishes; some may describe it as bulbous.