Surfer and adventurer Will Martin founded his watch company, Firle, in 2016 to produce elegant yet rugged pieces for outdoor enthusiasts. The Coast in Cornwall at England’s westerly point served as inspiration for the Firle Sennen Automatic series, where Sennen is a major surfing hotspot. His watches aren’t designed like a diver or robust tool watch, but more like something fit for the office instead of out in the waves. Enamel dials reinforce this luxurious touch, while a healthy depth rating and dual sapphire crystals make them anything but delicate. A mechanical athlete in a jacket and tie.
The stainless steel case of the Firle Sennen Automatic is 41mm in diameter and 11.7mm in height (48mm lug to lug), which hits that contemporary sweet spot for most scenarios. Not the smallest piece to slide under a cuff, but it does moonlight as an outdoors and surfing companion. You have the choice of polished steel or rose gold-plated, and the rounded case design was inspired by vintage pocket watches. A well-proportioned onion crown continues the elegant aesthetic, maintaining a round theme over something more angular and tool-ish. A double-domed sapphire crystal with an anti-reflective coating protects the dial, while a sapphire exhibition case back displays the Swiss automatic. The case is water-resistant to 100 metres.
The dials are the star of the show with simple yet sophisticated two-tier enamel designs. Taking inspiration from the Cornish coast once again, available colours are navy, green, black and white. To achieve rich, unique colours, a special glaze is painted on the dials and fired at 800 degrees Celsius, a process repeated multiple times until the surfaces are perfectly even. A final polish ensures that the colours are deep and smooth.
Comprised of two levels, the inner portion is surrounded by a raised ring with applied indices at 3, 6 and 9 o’clock, and a double index at 12 o’clock. A printed railroad track sits at the outermost perimeter. The Assegai hour and minute hands are either gold or silver to match the case colour, and the seconds hand has a similarly styled counterweight. These are time-only watches with no date or lume.
Powering the series is a modified Swiss Technology Production STP1-11 automatic calibre. This is owned by Fossil with movements supplied within the conglomerate and to third parties (similar to ETA and the Swatch Group, minus the restrictions). The STP1-11 is an alternative to both the ETA 2824-2 and Sellita SW 200-1. It has 26 jewels, beats at 28,800vph (4Hz) with a 44-hour power reserve. Functions include central hours, minutes and seconds, and the standard model has a date complication. Firle modified the movement to remove the date and phantom setting at the crown. Accuracy is rated at +/-15 seconds per day and there’s an Incabloc shock protection system. Seen through the exhibition caseback, the movement is decorated with perlage and the rotor has Côtes de Genève.
Two strap options include Italian calfskin leather with or without a crocodile pattern. Colours include navy, brown and black. With an eye on the environment, GBP 5 will be donated to the Plastic Oceans charity for every watch sold. Plastic Oceans is an international non-profit organization fighting to reduce plastic pollution in global waters, a mission important to Will Martin. The Firle Sennen collection is launching on Kickstarter on April 28 and with a key advantage. Unlike traditional crowdfunding efforts, the watches are already in stock and ready to ship following the campaign – no waiting for months on end. Kickstarter prices are GBP 380, and the retail price will be GBP 620. For more information and to place an order, visit Firle’s Kickstarter page.