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Review: The Farer Bernina Chronograph

What we are trying to push here at TYH is shining the spotlight on British Watchmaking. We are lucky enough to work with the likes of Bamford Watch Department, Fears Watches, Christopher Ward, and recently Studio Underdog, all of whom are truly putting British Watchmaking back on the map, all with their own unique style.

A brand that we have been admiring for some years, and have wanted to work with, is another one of those such brands. Based down the road from me in Bracknell, Farer was started in 2015, and in their seven-year history, have been at the centre of the revival of watchmaking here in Blighty!

Photo: Writers own, Credit: Me

I was lucky enough to spend a short amount of time with one of the founders, Paul Sweetenham when I went to collect the watch in question, and whilst we had a brilliant chat that was cut far too short, one thing he said has really stuck with me. Of course, when it comes to 'small', 'new', and 'upcoming' brands, the term Microbrand gets bounded around a lot. Paul and I discussed this term at some length, as he has said that a lot of people in the hobby have used this term a lot to describe Farer. Both Paul and I agreed that this term does not really apply to Farer. The distinguishing factor here is, in my opinion, how established the brand is. Farer currently produces around 5,000 watches a year, which to me well exceeds the production of so-called Microbrands. Given brands like A Lange & Sohne and Blancpain produce the same volume of watches, Microbrand seems a misplaced term. Independent is the way to refer to brands such as Farer, and given this small production quantity, quality and originality are something the brand can and do truly strive for.

The watch that we have been lucky enough to review, is one I have admired for some time now, the stunning Bernina Chronograph. At the heart of Farer's design philosophy is the principle of designing their watches to fit into three distinct categories; air, land, and sea. As a colourful chronograph, it is clear to see that the inspiration for this watch is land, and more specifically the pantheon of motorsports.

Photographing this watch was a heap of fun!

The Bernina is inspired by the legendary street races of the 1920s and '30s, held on the mountain roads of Europe. Whilst this racing chronograph does come in three other dial variations, the Bernina was the colour that stood out to me the most. Mainly due to the white bezel, which is something rarely seen in watches today. The stark white bezel and gorgeous red and blue tachymeter text is incredibly beautiful and striking.

From left to right... The Moritz, Cresta and Carnegie variants...

The Bernina was launched at the Bernina Grand Tourismo in 2019 in celebration of taking part in the prestigious race. The race takes place across the Swiss Alps, in which modern-ear Formula cars and old school classics compete over a 5.7km course between La Rosa and Hospizio Bernina, just outside St Moritz.

Not bad as scenery goes...

In terms of specifications, the watch comes in at a very well proportioned 41mm, and sitting at 12.9mm thick given the manual wind chronograph, offers an incredibly slim profile on the wrist.

A very charming depiction from Farer as to the dimensions of this piece…

For some reason, in this hobby that we all love, as soon as a watch gets over 40mm, people tend to throw their toys out of the pram and come out with comments along the lines of “Thats such a shame, I would love the watch if it was 38mm…” and in the interest of full disclosure, I have been one of said people on many an occasion. However, I really think this applies on a case-by-case basis (no pun intended), and is not a phrase to be applied with a broad brush stroke. In the case of the Bernina, the 41mm case is not only so well crafted and proportioned that it really does not wear like a 41mm, but it is also, as far as I can see, a conscious design choice. A watch who’s design has been crafted with motorsports heritage at its core needs to be legible. Whilst someone who is barrelling through the mountains around St. Moritz needs good eye sight anyway, you don’t want to be squinting down at your 36mm chronograph to tell the time, just because that’s a cuter size for such a watch. To wrap up this long drawn out point, I think that this watch is superbly proportioned at 41mm...

As you can see 41mm looks great on my 7 inch wrist…

When it comes to the movement powering the Bernina, it is a Sellita, but not a run of the mill Sellita. The chronograph movement here is the Elaboré grade, which in this case has been further modified with the creation of a bespoke high-end bridge adorned with a racing themed cheque pattern and the Farer logo. Now the upsides here is that for one, Sellita make fantastic movements. The days of them being branded as ETA knock offs are thankfully starting to fade into the history books, and it is hard to argue. The feel of the chronograph as you operate it is as smooth as butter, and with a power reserve of 58 hours, you can certainly leave this in your watch box and not have to worry about it for a few days! My only slight criticism here is the display case back. Whilst I love display case backs for the most part, the customised bridge plate does do a good job of obscuring the movement. For context, this is me being very particular, and certainly should not put you off buying one of these by any means!

The beating heart, the Sellita SW510 BH Elaboré grade movement…

This watch really is amazing. The amount of comments that I had in the office about this watch shows how much of a good looking piece it is. I found myself constantly looking down at my wrist and operating the chronograph just so I could get mesmerised by the crisp white dial and eye-catching red accents. The strap that it comes on, which is this gorgeous blue leather with red stitching was supple and very comfortable. But due to the red and white colour scheme this watch lends itself to a multitude of different straps, the Bonklip strap that I wore it on was a particular favourite I must say.

Farer are another amazing brand that we feel truly honoured to be able to work with, hopefully this is the start of a very successful partnership and of course more content for all of you lovely people reading this article. If you are not familiar with the brand there are two places to which you need to go as soon as you finish this article. The first is here , which is the Farer website. Their collection of watches is ever expanding and truly wonderful, they really do offer something for everyone at a pretty unbeatable price point, so if you have not checked it out I urge you to do so as a matter of urgency. The second place you should go to is here, which is their instagram. They take some truly stunning photographs, and if you want to get a flavour of all things Farer, this is the place to go.

Felix Arnold

Editor & Co-Founder

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