A Hands-On Debut with the Fleming Series 1

A new name in the independent watch scene, Fleming is the American-based brainchild of Thomas Fleming. Hatched by an enthusiast who decided to take his passion to the next level during the pandemic, Fleming was bolstered when James Kong (better known by his Instagram handle @waitlisted) joined as COO and Art Director. Just released is the brand’s debut Series 1 watch, a trio of time-only watches that ooze obsessive attention to detail and craftsmanship. 

The Fleming Series 1 is a simple time-only watch that is being launched in rose gold (as seen here), platinum, and tantalum. The case comes in at just the right size for this style of watch, measuring 38.5mm wide and 9mm thick with a 46.5mm lug-to-lug height. 

Fleming wisely tapped some of the most talented names in watchmaking for almost every aspect of the Series 1, a watch that comes together in a beautiful coherent package. This seamless curation makes for a real contender in the increasingly competitive landscape of not just small-batch independent watchmakers but also that of high-end time-only dress watches. The J.N. Shapiro Resurgence certainly comes to mind albeit at a substantially higher price point but even lower price offerings from bigger brands like the Chopard L.U.C 1860 and the Audemars Piguet Code 11.59 make serious plays for buyers in this space.

Stiff competition or not, the Fleming Series 1 impresses with the amount of attention paid to both the larger components like movement and dial as with smaller aspects like lug and case band.

The Fleming Series 1 dials are absolutely stunning which is no surprise considering the hand-done finishings by Comblémine which is owned by none other than Kari Voutilainen. The rose gold model which I spent some time with has a  light champagne hand-hammered central dial and seconds sub-dial that resembles something between graining and tremblage which makes for a lovely textured effect. The hand-done guilloché on the outer ring is done in a refreshingly contemporary, almost geometric style that is enhanced by the carbon grey color choice. The platinum version has opts for more traditional guilloché patterns on the southwestern brown colored central disc and seconds sub-dial and a barleycorn pattern on the amber colored outer ring. Finally, there is the tantalum model which goes in a different direction with an aventurine central disc and seconds sub-dial matched with a frosted platinum outer ring. Each of these three dials really seem to have their own personality and reflect an obvious commitment of both time and effort in the concept and execution phase.

The Fleming Series 1 has some gently honed contemporary takes on classic watch design with one example being the aforementioned contemporary guilloché style on the outer ring of the rose gold model. The case is done in three parts with brushed finishes on the top and bottom sections while the central case band is polished and makes way for the fabulous stylized lugs. The skeletonized lugs are elaborate in a way one doesn’t often see from a new independent brand — let alone the larger established names. These are not quite teardrop or Cornes de Vache style lugs but whatever the designation would be, they are certainly one of the standout aspects of the Fleming Series 1. It also should not be overlooked just how comfortably these sit on the wrist and brand founder Thomas Fleming says “We spent months making sure the lugs hugged the wrist just as we hoped, went back to the drawing board several times for no reason other than we felt there might be something better out there if we kept experimenting, and even sent back a round of already-finished cases to ensure we chose the ideal anti-reflective coating for the design.”

The Caliber FM-01 was developed with renowned movement maker Jean-François Mojon alongside his team at Chronode. The Fleming team chose to customize the existing and proven C101 caliber which was the ideal base as it is a thin manual-wind caliber with a substantial power reserve. Operating at 21,600 vph with a 7-day power reserve, the FM-01 is finished to the nines with ratchet wheels customized to echo the brand’s signature logo. The balance wheel bridge is particularly impressive with its fully rounded edges and slight arc as it extends towards the balance wheel. It’s a bit reminiscent of some MB&F pieces which is high praise. The frosted bridges and chamfering is also exceptionally done. And finally there is the discreet power reserve indicator on the case back that boasts a very gently indentation on the area of the actual indicator. Hand-finished with black polishing throughout, the Caliber FM-01 makes for a movement that matches the dial and case finishes.

Unsurprisingly, the Fleming Series 1 will be made in very small batches. The Tantalum version with aventurine dial will be limited to 25 pieces with a price of 45,500 CHF, the Rose gold version will be limited to 7 pieces with a price of 48,500 CHF, and the platinum version will be limited to 9 pieces with a price of 51,500 CHF. The brand is already proactive in teasing what’s next with the upcoming Series 1 Ghost which will be no heavier than a sweatband and has been developed alongside tennis player Casper Ruud who is a brand ambassador and stakeholder. The Series 2 is also coming along and will be a integrated bracelet sports watch. 

Fleming is exactly the kind of brand that gets me excited about the future of independent watchmaking and I look forward to seeing what’s next. 

To learn more, visit Fleming, here

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