A New Generation of High End Watchmaking – The Fleming Series 1

From young watch collector Thomas Fleming comes an ambitious new creation in the world of high-end independent watchmaking

Within the nichey world of luxury watches, there sits a curious category of companies – small, highly specialized, and coveted for their watchmaking prowess. These are the high-end independents, a group for which there was very little fanfare even 5 or 10 years ago. While the category still remains relatively small, the list of brands continues to grow year by year, if only by a handful. Today, there is a new name to add to the prestigious list of independents: Fleming.

Born out of an obsessive love for fine watchmaking and a desire to see his passion incarnated, Thomas Fleming has spent the last few years developing his own watch brand. With the likes of industry photographer and prominent watch collector James Kong as his COO, Fleming has been the talk of the collector community since it first began to tease images of its inaugural release in early 2023.

Thomas Fleming. Kyna Uwaeme for The New York Times

While the list of names involved in the development of the Series 1 is impressive and worthy of note – the movement, developed by Francois Mojon at Chronode, dials crafted by Kari Voutilainen’s Comblémine, and overall design collaboration with Neodesis – the watches themselves are much more than the sum of their parts. Indeed, The Fleming Series 1 feels like an exploration of what is possible in fine watchmaking when deeply passionate enthusiasts with a flair for design are given the keys to the horological candy store.

The watch will be initially produced in three distinct variations: 7 in rose gold, 9 in platinum, and 25 tantalum. Each piece will be individually numbered, and feature unique sector dial variations per material, complementing the material of the case in question. Rose gold receives a contrasting gray guilloche and a champagne toned hammering, both hand applied. Platinum features two different guilloche patterns, the outer track in a honey gold tone, and the inner a rich metallic brown. Finally, the tantalum is paired with a dark gray frosted out track with dark blue aventurine for the inner dial and sub-seconds.

The 38.5mm case of the Series 1 is equally as interesting as its varied dial options, offering a multitude of details to be studied and enjoyed. Contrasting brushing and polishing along the midcase guides the eye towards the crown which is engraved with the Fleming company logo. The horn lugs, which protrude prominently from the otherwise understated rounded case, are skeletonized, offering their own sense of dimensionality.

It’s as if the case has two personalities – when viewed from top, you are greeted with an elegant, classic, if slightly opulent profile. When viewed from the side, the case feels more modern, structured, and even architectural. A similar experience is had when viewing the dial and flipping the watch over to view the Caliber FM-01 movement. From the dial side, you have a kaleidoscope of dial finishing techniques harmoniously applied. Displayed through the caseback, you have a technical, austere, yet no less beautifully finished movement which feels entirely contemporary.

While all three pieces are remarkable in their own right, the variations in material, techniques, and finishing make them feel dramatically different from one another. As a result, collectors who are so inclined will likely gravitate towards one particular variation or the other.

Utilizing rose gold, platinum, and even tantalum as the case materials lends a more classically luxurious persona to this first release. Despite this, there are already plans to release a sport focused version of the Series 1 – the Series 1 Ghost. Through its partnership with Norwegian Tennis Pro Casper Ruud, Fleming’s first brand ambassador and ground-floor investor, the Series 1 Ghost will be a light weight, shock resistant version of the Series 1. Having joined on prior to the first prototype even being completed, Casper Ruud’s influence will undoubtedly keep the brand focused on balancing utility and function as well as materials and finishing.

In many ways, the Series 1 feels like a teaser of sorts. While certainly not incohesive from a design stand point, it’s almost as if this initial release is saying, “Fleming is here, and these are the kinds of things we’re capable of creating.” Will subsequent releases lean more towards one aesthetic or the other, slanting towards more contemporary design elements, or will traditional detailing craftsmanship steer Fleming in a more classic direction? Only time will tell.

But what is perhaps most exciting about Fleming is that, amidst an albeit small yet ever expanding category of ultra-high-end watchmakers, there is a new younger voice that has joined the conversation. In an inherently anachronistic trade like luxury watchmaking, there is an ever present cloud, looming ominously on the horizon. That cloud is the harbinger of change, of demise, of the “old ways” dying off or being lost to the sands of time. With the birth of Fleming, we are reminded that, despite the changing tides of taste and trends, for the world of high-end independent watchmaking, perhaps the best is yet to come.

Tech Specs

Movement: Calibre FM-01 developed by Chronode

Functions: Hours, minutes, subsidiary seconds

Case: 38mm case offered in Rose Gold (7 Pieces), Platinum (9 Pieces) , and Tantalum (25 Pieces)

Dial: Rose Gold – carbon grey hand guilloche and light champagne
hand hammering. Platinum – southwestern brown and amber hand guilloche. Tantalum – frosted platinum dial with dark blue aventurine.

Price: Rose Gold – CHF 48,500
Platinum – CHF 51,500
Tantalum – CHF 45,500

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