Fleming Series 1: A Superb New ‘Six-Eater’

The world is again another watch brand richer, as recently, US-based but Swiss-made brand Fleming launched its first collection. I am not the first person to immediately jump on the bandwagon of a new brand, but as always, there are exceptions to this rule.

Fleming Series 1 in pink gold

What makes Fleming different is that their first watch is one of my favorite categories: a three-hander with a six-eater (large sub-seconds dial at 6 o’clock).

While this may sound like the most straightforward type of watch to make, getting the design of such a watch both right and original is very challenging.

Fleming Series 1 in tantalum

Secondly, Fleming makes one version in one of my favorite metals: tantalum.



The sum is more than the parts

When I asked Thomas Fleming, the founder of the brand, why he used tantalum, it turned out that we share a passion for the metal. He simply needed to use it for this watch, putting man and machine through the test.

Tantalum was briefly a small thing in the early 2000s, but just as quickly abandoned as it is very, very hard to work with, and quite honestly, most watch collectors still prefer gold and platinum despite the beautiful hue that tantalum has.

In terms of production, tantalum is the most demanding and dominating. What you can do with gold and platinum, you can’t with tantalum. It rocks your machines with its gum-like structure and happily sets them on fire when you don’t apply enough lubrication.

Polishing has to be done mostly by hand, as where other metals start shining like a diamond on the lapping machine, tantalum gives you imperfections as a way to tell you that you are not worthy to work with this material.

As Fleming did not want to deviate from his original design, it took two years before the case in tantalum was finally up to par. However, even Fleming had to make one concession in the end: the lugs couldn’t be welded on, so they are now screwed.

Skeletonized lug of the Fleming Series 1

This ended up giving the Series 1 an advantage, as the case band middle, which goes over into the lugs, now looks even more detailed and interesting.

Fleming Series 1 tantalum on the wrist

With a diameter of 38.5 mm the dimensions are also spot on. Fleming combines this with an equally well-proportioned crown that oozes sophisticated details and decorations.   



The movement

With a three-hander, especially in this price category, there is a lot of emphasis on the movement. For this, Fleming turned to Chronode, who created a gem. Fitted with two mainspring barrels and running at 3Hz, it offers a one-week power reserve with the indicator on the back.

While this makes it already an interesting movement, the architecture and finishing take it to the next level.

Movement of the Fleming Series 1

Caliber FM-01 is designed to be as symmetrical as possible, and Fleming is quite playful with the decorating techniques. Parts are skeletonized, the covers for the mainspring barrels have a stunning motif, there is a technical connection through the power reserve indicator, and the full bridge to hold the balance wheel is simply sexy.

The finishing techniques are mainly done by hand and include chamfering and black polish. What they did is take every part of the movement, determine what finish would look best on that part, and then connect them all and see how they work together.

The result is simply stunning because the dimension of the movement is in proportion to the case. Its height of 3.98mm also allows the Series 1 overall thickness to be just 9mm, which gives it a strong yet elegantly slim profile.



Dial it up

Fleming has a different dial to match each of the different metals in which the Series 1 comes in. The tantalum mesmerizes with a platinum grey dial in which the inner sections are made with blue aventurine. It creates an almost sportive look, while the aventurine draws your eyes naturally to the center of the dial.

Fleming Series 1 in platinum

The bold hour markers on twelve, three, and nine o’clock aid this process. A combination of carbon grey hand guilloché and light champagne hand hammering on the pink gold model dives deeper in hand finishing.

Fleming Series 1 dial details

All dials are made by the experts at Comblémine, a highly specialized company in Saint-Sulpice, Switzerland owned by Kari Voutilainen.

That Fleming spared no expense is also visible in the platinum version, where two different types of hand guilloche add a luscious richness to the dial, giving each version a character of its own.     

So, is this Fleming worth it?

With prices starting at CHF 45,500 for the 25-piece limited tantalum version and up to CHF 51,500 for one of the 7-piece platinum editions, Fleming enters challenging territory with fierce competition. Whether or not you find these watches worth it depends on your point of view.



There have been some comments online from watch enthusiasts that say that Thomas Fleming had it easy, as his father is a partner in a venture capital firm so funding wasn’t a problem.

While it may or may not be his father who is putting up the capital to fund the company, the Flemings are most likely the very first to realize that going into watches, especially in this segment, won’t make you rich.

It’s similar to that old joke that can apply to various industries; if you want to be a millionaire in watchmaking, you better start as a billionaire. Some comments even went as far as to state that Fleming simply bought himself a brand, but I consider that envy rearing its ugly head.

If Fleming wanted to get that route, there are plenty of esteemed Swiss brands that would welcome a new owner. Instead, Fleming took full advantage of the opportunities that he had and brought together some of the brightest minds in watchmaking. It resulted in three versions of what is an incredible watch, and you can hardly blame somebody for doing that.

Fleming Series 1 crown and caseband

To get back to the original question: are they worth it? That depends if you buy watches as an investment or for personal enjoyment funded by disposable income?

If you are in the first category, betting on a new brand is always tricky, and even if/when they take off, it doesn’t mean that the prices of previous models go over retail in the secondary market. It also means that you can’t really wear them, as you need to protect your investment.

That is also why I hope that all the Series 1 are being sold to people who buy them because they love them. While a Fleming doesn’t come with decades of heritage and isn’t a brand name that everybody on the New York Subway recognizes (which I count as a benefit), it is a well-made and stunningly beautiful watch.

Fleming Series 1 in tantalum

If you disregard the lack of heritage and brand recognition that any new brand lacks, it really is as good as a newly made, classic three-hander gets. For that, I applaud Mr.Fleming and look forward to what he has in store for us next.

For the naysayers, actually handle one of the Series 1 watches before being too critical, but be warned, you might agree with me afterward that the Fleming Series 1 is an excellent watch.

For more information, please visit www.fleming.watch 

Quick Facts: Fleming Series 1
Case: 38.5 x 9 mm, 18-karat pink gold, platinum, or tantalum

Movement: automatic Caliber FM-01, 168-hour (7-day) power reserve, 21,000 VpH/3Hz
Functions: hours, minutes, seconds, power reserve (on back)
Limitation: pink gold and platinum 7 pieces each, tantalum 25 pieces
Price: CHF 45,500 in tantalum, CHF 48,500 in pink gold, CHF 51,500 in platinum

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4 replies
  1. LocalheroEd
    LocalheroEd says:

    There’s a lot to like about this watch, great size, lovely symmetry to the movement, excellent details on the dial. So many appetisers to tingle the visual taste buds but I can’t stomach the price. I’m not saying it’s not a fair price, beyond my means yes, but if I did have 50k would I, to flog the metaphor, gobble it up? Maybe. Certainly on the short list.

    Nice review Martin, I’d be interested to know what else you’d compare this to? Either in style or price bracket.

    All the best, Ed

    • Martin Green
      Martin Green says:

      Tough question, Ed. Gronefeld comes to mind, but their movement configuration is different. The new Toric Petite Seconde is also close, even in price, but I am in general always a fan of seeing these watches as individuals. Comparing only helps, in my opinion, when you want to purchase one, and have more watches calling your name.

  2. Mehtab Bhogal
    Mehtab Bhogal says:

    There is a pretty big flaw in the image posted of the skeletonized lugs. It’s on other images posted as well.

    If you look at where the lugs meet the case it’s a very apparent flaw. IMO not acceptable for a watch in this price range.


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