A man of the time
Last month, Nicholas Bowman-Scargill and his Fears watch brand gave the world the message we all needed from a luxury brand, taking the lead in a time of crisis.
In a social media post and newsletter, sent out to subscribers, Bowman-Scargill sent one simple message – Don’t buy a Fears.
It may seem counterproductive, but in fact it was the perfect reflection of the mentality we all need more of right now.
“We make a beautiful product which is luxury in the true sense of the word, because nobody needs to own a wristwatch,” Bowman-Scargill tells me, speaking over the phone from his kitchen.
“If you start from that basis, what I make is certainly important, but it’s not necessary, it’s not a requirement.”
“The world doesn’t need new watches at the best of times, we absolutely don’t need it right now.”
His post was born out of a building frustration, which came to a head during a cup of hot chocolate in his kitchen at 11pm.
“I knew I needed to do a message, an email, but I didn’t want it to be functional or patronising,” he remembers.
“I just couldn’t really work out what I wanted to write
“It turned into a ten minute monologue or rant about how frustrated I was about the whole situation and how upset I was about all the small businesses that we love and frequent and how everyone was going to be affected and suffer. I was just annoyed about that and how some people in the industry were pretending it was business as normal.
“My husband just said: ‘I think that’s your message’.”
It hit home and he says while some were surprised by his missive, many got in touch to admit they wish they had done the same.
“People were like: ‘I would never have had the guts to do that’,” he laughs.
Taking action on something he believes needs doing is a big part of Bowman-Scargill’s approach to life in general. When lockdown hit, he took 100% pay cut himself to help the business, which has paid its bills early to help suppliers and partners. He now works a 2am – 8am shift at Asda, before coming home to oversee the day-to-day Fears operation.
Having worked since he was young, sitting at home was not an option and Bowman-Scargill seems to have taken to his new role with relish, describing it as “like Supermarket Sweep without Dale Winton.”
“There is something quite satisfying about doing something with your hands,” he admits. “I have never been so toned or fit and healthy.”
He is now running the operation from his home in Canterbury.
“Lockdown is alright actually,” he says. “I did a crazy thing two years ago. I left London. My husband and I left our lovely house down in Bermondsey and moved to Canterbury. But we kept the house in Bermondsey, which we let out, and we moved into a tiny one-bedroom flat. It has always felt like a great idea until we realised we now live and work in a little flat.“
Bowman-Scargill laughs: “We’re very lucky. It is a wonderful flat, which we adore, so we are very lucky to actually spend some time in it. We have a lovely communal garden.
He and his husband are also making the most of their new routine to find different moments of joy in the day, such as stopping work to enjoy a gin & tonic with the last of the afternoon sun.
“Both of our working lives mean that most of the time we are either abroad or up in London,” he says, “so I think this is the first time we have spent some time consecutively in our flat, so it’s really nice.”
The importance of style
Dressing the part is very important in Bowman-Scargill’s ‘normal’ life and staying stylish at home remains a key part of the day.
He explains: “I always joke that when I walk into a room, I know I’m not the smartest guy in the room, I’m not the funniest, I’m not the richest, I’m definitely not the best looking, but I can definitely be the best dressed.”
How has the change in life affected his sartorial habits?
“An important thing with being the best dressed person in a room is to be dressed appropriately,” he reflects.
"You’re not necessarily the best dressed person just because you’re more formally dressed"
“That means in lockdown no ties or formal shoes - I haven’t worn a tie in 3 weeks now - but rather dressed for the occasion. So, in lockdown while many people will be dressed in loungewear I’ll go for tailored chinos and a dress shirt open neck, maybe with a cashmere jumper depending on the weather.
“I’m a strong believer that you’re not necessarily the best dressed person just because you’re more formally dressed. Likewise, there are times when a proper fitting chino and shirt looks much smarter than an ill-fitting suit and bad tie and shirt.”
Central to his lockdown look, however, is a beautiful accessory: A Fears watch. Bowman-Scargill brought the brand, which was created by his great-great-great grandfather, back to life in 2016. Since then, they have created a series of gorgeous and limited edition watches. Bowman-Scargill showcases his daily horological choice on his Instagram account if you want a closer look.
“You don’t simply like a Fears watch,” he explains. “I think that’s really important; I don’t want to make something that just appeals to everyone,
“I’d rather make something that is distinctive and is its own thing.”
Photos courtesy of Nicholas Bowman-Scargill & Fears Watches