The brand new chronographs from England’s Farer are 39 millimeters across, 12.5 millimeters tall, run on a highly decorated Elaboré-grade ETA 2894-2 movement, sport excellent Horween leather straps, and rock three of Farer’s most appealing colorways—all for $1,950.
But specs and prices don’t hold a candle to the vibe these watches put off in person, which is an uncanny balance of vintage-inspired sophistication and up-to-the-minute whimsy. That vibe seems to work on all kinds of wrists. At last night’s launch event here in New York City, I saw imposingly tall men with enormous arms look badass in these chronographs, and I saw petite women look even more badass in them. Whoever was trying them on had a big smile on their face and then fell into the dilemma that now faces all of us: which one of the three do you like best?
The Cobb sports a “big eye” sub-dial configuration with graduated turquoise paint job, a bright orange running seconds hand at nine o’clock and an even brighter yellow central chronograph hand. That melange of color sits over a matte dial that Farer aptly describes as “night-sky blue.” If that colorway sounds or looks too wacky for you, I encourage you to get one in hand and marvel, as I did, at how successfully integrated—and ultimately quiet—the Cobb is.
You’d think the Segrave would be quieter with its black dial, pale hands and traditional orange chronograph hand up the middle, but the white sub-dials, bright blue tachymeter scale, and green hand at the three o’clock totalizer bring on bushels of whimsy, allowing this watch to be a truly modern take on the classic reverse panda.
The “silk chocolate” dial of the Eldridge is perhaps the most Farer-esque of the three. This chocolate dial is not an attempt to emulate the all-too-popular “tropical dial” that so many vintage watch-nerds obsess over; it is a unique rich brown with a reddish tone all its own. Farer was smart to keep the sub-dials monochromatic and to reduce the complementary accent colors. When considering such a wild colorway, it’s easy to overlook something as mundane as legibility, but the Eldridge is, surprisingly, a highly legible tool watch.
Farer’s new chronographs sport one of the very best date windows I’ve seen. These apertures are entirely discrete, relegating the date to the secondary status it deserves. The date disc is color matched to perfection, something that Farer’s team told me took a rather prolonged back-and-forth with their Swiss manufacturer. The aperture is quite small, with beveled edges, and the numerals—which are rendered in the same font as the dial—are scaled down considerably to fit perfectly inside this small window. I challenge even the most hardcore anti-date watch-heads to get genuinely upset about this one.
The 316L case is something you’d expect on a watch costing a lot more. Check out the micro-blasted recessed sections on the mid-case, which extend down to the tips of the lugs. Where so many chronographs are boringly slab-sided, Farer’s recessed mid-case design accomplishes depth, nuance, continuity, and, most importantly, interest.
The chamfered bezel is big and, thus, prominent, creating the illusion that these watches are thicker than they actually are. At the launch event, one gentleman with a rather small wrist wearing a suit slipped one under his cuff and said, “Oh, wow, I can wear this.” Case finishing is, as with all Farers, exceptional throughout, and the pushers and signed bronze crown at three o’clock will command your attention as much as the colorful dials do.
Around back, four screws hold in the case back with its sapphire exhibition glass, through which we see the highly decorated ETA movement with its bespoke, skeletonized, bronze rotor, blued screws, exposed rubies, and engraved bridges. Farer has done enough bespoke work on this movement to help even the most jaded watch-head enjoy watching the rotor spin.
Even through the lens of a camera, I honestly didn’t notice the front crystal—an oversight on my part that speaks to the effective anti-reflective coating of the domed sapphire crystal. The crystal is set ever so slightly above the bezel, which helps these watches achieve their slim 12.5-millimeter height.
Water resistance is rated to 100 meters, so these chronographs will serve as hearty water sport companions. And while these are sporty watches, it would be hard to fail them as companions for any outfit, from black-tie, to jeans-and-tee, to a sexy Dianne von Furstenburg dress. There was quite a bit of talk about how these chronographs look great on women, and this may come as a nice bump in appeal for many watch-heads seeking an addition to a couple’s collection.
It’s not often that we get to say this, but the new Farer chronographs are pretty much flawless. Perhaps nothing speaks to that more than how hard it was for everyone who was handling them to make up their mind about which one they’d go for when it comes time to purchase. In the end, I fell for the big eye of The Cobb, but, as my father used to say, “You could throw a dart at these watches and be happy with wherever it lands.” Farer
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