Could this be an opportunity to disrupt the watch industry?

Could this be an opportunity to disrupt the watch industry?

 

CODE41 is a startup initiative that aims to shake up the watch industry with brute transparency

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As of current, the Swiss watch industry is all over the place. What we have is a heavily saturated market that’s having to cope with fluctuating currency, weakened overseas demand, criticisms over lack of innovation and trying to adapt to new technology trends. You would think then, that there isn’t room for any new troubles?

It appears that one particular brand isn’t going to let the Swiss watch industry get off lightly. The folks threatening to interfere with the ‘status quo’- Code41, plan to unmask the elements which certain parts of the Swiss watch industry isn’t really keen on sharing.

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The emphasis of transparency

Think of the last time you saw a “Swiss Made” written on something. I’m sure you acknowledged it as a mark of precision and high quality associated with some of the world’s most premier brands. That’s pretty fair. You might also think that the product was made entirely in Switzerland. That’s also pretty fair; but there is an off-chance that you could be wrong.

In reality, the use of “Swiss Made” to describe the origin of a product is regulated by the Swiss government. There are two sections in Swiss law which dictate how the term can be used, with one of the laws referencing Swiss watches directly. To save you reading through legislature, the current principle of a Swiss watch is as follows:

  • The movement is of Swiss origin
  • The movement is cased in Switzerland
  • The manufacturer carries out the watch’s final inspection in Switzerland
  • A movement is Swiss if at least 50% of its value (not including cost of assembly) was realised in Switzerland AND if it has been assembled and “inspected” by the manufacturer in Switzerland.
  • The watch must be fully assembled in Switzerland

 

There are a few semantics regarding this:
The extent to which a watch is actually “Swiss Made” varies greatly from each individual watch manufacturer. The point of interest (as shown above) is that the component origins of a Swiss Made watch need to be at least  50% to be able to legally use the term. The case, dial and strap can be sourced abroad. I’ll quickly mention that as of 2017, this will be increased to 60%, and will encompass the Case, movement and strap. The movement will still have to be completely “Swiss”

The Code41 project aims to change this with transparency. Run by a trio of designers by a small design studio called Cosanova design. The firm has spent over a decade designing watches for the likes of Tag Heuer, Parmigiani Fleurier and Montblanc. Their concept is being called “TTO”: Total Transparency of Origin. The company will not only let clients know where the watch parts have come from, but also how much they cost to make, and how it differs from the retail price.

I spoke to founder Claudio D’Amore, who explained his approach to the whole thing:

“I always wanted to start a watch brand and at the beginning of this year I thought “why not?”. When we first started, we knew we didn’t want to be like all the other brands in a similar situation. We thought about going the Swiss made route, only to quickly realise what a big joke it was. We didn’t want to be part of that”

Claudio was very vocal about how even the most renowned luxury brands would simply multiply their cost of production up to tenfold. He added however, that the retail for Code41’s watches would be 3.5 times the cost of production (with some subsidies for kickstarter supporters). Claudio explained that the pricing strategy was feasible as the brand would not operate through traditional distributors and retailers. The watches would be available online and then delivered by an eCommerce partner. The company has designed and developed its first model, from the suggestions of up to 10,000 registered users and has raised over 300,000CHF since their campaign launch. The first watches are to be delivered sometime in June

“What we are offering is complete transparency and letting the clients know exactly what they are part of.  It’s not like we’ve come up with a brand new concept of horology in terms of movement, we are watch designers who are offering a watch with a great design. Our story is what gets us support from the community”

 

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The watch will feature a Japanese Miyota mechanical movement and will be assembled in China, using Chinese made components. An option of various straps and bracelets will be made available upon order. Pictures with permission from Code41.

My take:

Having looked into the brand and spoken directly to the people behind it, I have to say the prospect at hand is very interesting. Here we have a brand that is willing to share just exactly what goes on behind the scenes of producing their watch.

It has to be said that the idea of letting the clients know price margins of a product can be called “unconventional”. As pointed out, a lot of big labels would rather have it that their customers don’t know the margin between cost of production and final retail. That being noted, the concept of pricing is relative and choosing prices will determine your customers. There will always be a market for people spending exorbitant amounts of money, and luxury brands exist to fill that gap. Customers will always create a mental hierarchy when presented with various price ranges. In the case for Code41, I think this will play as a strength. The brand is unapologetic about it’s use of Chinese components. Such examples of the “no frills” and honest nature, gives the brand a strong sense of integrity. It is the retailer’s job to both set the price and convince the customer. Code41 claim that they can compare quality of production of their piece, with a watch priced at around the $2000-$3000USD mark. That competes with quite a few entry level watch labels.  The fact that Code41 will provide all the details of how much their watch actually costs to produce, will most likely lead to heightened buyer confidence. Their Thousands of supporters is a testament to this.

The aforementioned supporters will be crucial in this, as Code41 won’t exactly be making any industry friends with their outspoken views about pricing and origin of components. That being said, the larger Swiss labels won’t really have anything to worry about. Brands that go nearer to the five figure price range are in a different tier entirely; in terms of history, marketing, distribution and quality of production. Code41’s pieces will be competing with entry level watch brands, and so that’s where the pressure will be. The “origin of source” concept is where this pressure will come from. An example that a friend mentioned to me, is that there are a lot of watch startup companies in Asia. Quite a few of them are from common manufacturers in the far East. Some of these brands have been fiddling around with legal loopholes, allowing them to market watches as “Swiss Made”. The watches produced by said brands tend to be made with lower standards than legitimate “Swiss Made” timepieces. The issue is that they then have the nerve to charge a luxury price for them. In other words, newer companies with no track record of success are solely relying on the status that Swiss watch companies have built and earned over the past 300 years.

Personally, I welcome the idea of bringing something fresh to the table.  As shown in the dying retail industry of Asia, customers no longer want ‘face on’ value, but are looking for something more “genuine”. There are already labels that cater to this: offering a healthy ratio of quality and price. In terms of horological value, they won’t be turning heads. Their price range roots them at the very entry level of the horology world. What Code41 has however, is a branding concept that’s new. It’s a concept that appeals to many people, which is important. It’s too early however, to say if that will represent any actual value, but I have to give the brand credit for trying. They’ve built themselves up as a sort of ‘Horological political pressure group’ in the watch industry. I absolutely love that. They may not cause the level of disruption they advertised, but they’ll certainly ruffle feathers. By raising awareness, companies might have to reconsider using the term “Swiss Made” on their watches. That’s quite a way to make an entrance into the watch scene. I’m looking quite forward to seeing what they have to offer.

You can check out their campaign here.

Quick comments: Fidel Castro

Quick comments: Fidel Castro

On November 25 2016, Cuban state television announced to the rest of the world that; former politician and revolutionary, Fidel Castro has died at the age of 90. I’m going to quickly say that I acknowledge my words are treading thin ice, but I’m going to say that describing Castro any further without stirring sentiments to either his critics or worshippers, is an impossible task.

I do my best to keep this blog free from any talk about politics or any current affairs relating to such. However, if said current affair can be interlinked with the world of horology, then an exception can be made. This is one of those exceptions.

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Castro Visiting the United States Source

 

It’s fair to say that the infamous/famous [choose your word] Cuban ‘politician’ has quite a portfolio to his name.
These merely include being the thorn in the backside of 11 US presidents, bringing the conflict of the Cold War to the far Western hemisphere (briefly causing the world to contemplate the brink of a thermonuclear war, mind you) and serving as Cuba’s absolute leader for 50 years.
I’m going to add an additional, lesser known note to his profile: He was also one of the most significant figures in the history of horology.

There are two habits of Castro that have been noted down by historians. The First was his passion for smoking fat Cigars, and the Second was often wearing 2 watches on the same wrist. The watches in question happened to be Rolexes.

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Castro with dual Rolexes on his wrist Source

In all honesty, there aren’t any definitive sources to explain why he did this. The most common and plausible explanation for him doing this, was to be able to view multiple time zones at the same time. One of his pieces was a GMT, the other one a Submariner. It is often said that the watches were set to local time in Havana, Moscow and Washington. (As an additional side note, Washington D.C. and Havana are currently part of the the same time zone (UTC -5), but between the years 1960 and 1964 Havana used the time zone UTC -4) Source

 

“How is a communist leader able to put one of the world’s most iconic luxury brands on his wrist?”

Now, those who are up to date with their history might pick up on this supposed discrepancy. It doesn’t get much more ‘bourgeoisie’ than wearing a watch that most common people wouldn’t be able to dream about affording. It incites the infamous phrase: “Capitalism for the bosses, communism for the masses”.
Well, that’s what you’d believe at first: wearing a Rolex is the symbol of hypocrisy for Castro. Or is it? This is where it gets interesting; you’ll need a bit more context before jumping to conclusions.

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Castro and Pope John II. Copyright Reuters

 

 

There have been obscure claims that the watches worn by Castro were looted from jewellers, or confiscated from political opponents. Others have said that the watches are mere counterfeits. These claims are somewhat dubious and I will dismiss them for the reasons I will outline in the next paragraph.

In terms of current image and reputation, associating oneself with the name “Rolex” draws imagery of wealth, success and personal accomplishment. This wasn’t the case during the peak of Castro’s reign. Throughout the lifespan of the brand, Rolex has always been known to produce high accuracy timekeeping devices. It has to be noted however, that the watches coming out of the Rolex factory were historically viewed (at best) as high-end tool watches, rather than the prized luxury items they are seen as today Source. I have to say that Rolex watches have never been considered “cheap” by any standards. They did however; occupy what can be described as a much more “accessible” price range. To give you an idea of what i’m talking about, a Stainless Submariner Date (1680/16610) retailed for $180 in 1957 Source. Adjusting for inflation, that would only be equal to roughly $1,600 today. To put that into modern perspective, a brand-new, stainless steel Submariner Date now costs $7100 (A rough average given the various models and demand). Simply put, it would have been a lot more feasible for the common working man to have a Rolex on their wrist during the 60’s, than today.

 

 

Another fact I’ll point out is that having a precise timepiece (Especially in the era before quartz watches) was a necessary piece of equipment for field commanders. Worn by personnel from every continent, an accurate watch was crucial for coordinating and synchronising military operations. Castro would often gift a Rolex timepiece to his advisors and close friends. It is said that fellow revolutionary, Che Guevara received at least two different Rolex watches from Castro during the late 1950’s and 1960’s (The story behind that will be mentioned in a future article)
Just to further ‘hit home’ the scale Rolex and communist relations, the father of the Communist Party in China Chairman Mao Zedong , owned two yellow gold Rolex Datejust watches as did Russian President Boris Yeltsin.
Fidel Castro lighting a cigar and wearing two Rolex watches during a meeting with Khrushchev, Kremlin, 1963.jpg

Taken on the 27th of April in 1963. Here Fidel Castro is seen smoking a Cuban cigar and wearing two Rolex watches in the Kremlin while he chats with Khrushchev, in front of a Karl Marx picture. There are a lot of fascinating elements to this picture. The point of interest is everyone smiling and looking at Castro smoking a cigar. The watches are a nonchalant accessory. Having briefly studied history at UNDERGRADUATE level, I have to appreciate how images like this would have either been censored or outright banned to the public. Source

 

The death of Castro will stir up emotions for countless people. This article was not intended to be insensitive to said people. Being a politics student, this news entails an abundant amount of things. But as a horologist, the reason this topic interests me so much, is that this is a testament to how deep horology is ingrained in our history. To think that some of the most interesting and unexpected figures throughout time have chosen to wear a particular watch on their wrist, and uncovering the reason why is incredibly fascinating.

 

 

 

 

Quick comments: Phillips auction 2016. An unexpected head turner

Quick comments: Phillips auction 2016. An unexpected head turner

I very rarely ever talk about the world of watch auctions. I frankly have no interest in that area. Upon hearing the words “watch auction”, my mind draws an image of middle aged men frothing at the mouth, itching to raise their hands in response to the garble of steadily increasing numbers being spewed by the auctioneer. That’s my own thought on the matter, and I usually leave it at that.

However, it appears that every now and then, something will turn up in the watch enthusiast circles that’ll start causing a bit of a stir. In this case, it was the news that the Phillips auction house would be putting on offer, a trio of Patek Philippe ref. 1518 with their ‘flavours’ being: Yellow Gold, Pink Gold and Stainless Steel. The famous Aurel Bacs would be the one putting the pieces on the block.
In reflection, seeing a bunch of well mannered professional adults turn into a bunch of excitable school children made me quite curious to find out what the fuss was about. I’m still very new to this game, and can barely scratch the surface of the vintage watch world. I’ll try and attempt a summary.

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The Patek Philippe ref. 1518. Copyright Phillips

With these pieces in particular, I understand that they all house the handwound calibre 13’’’130Q which features a chronograph with column wheel and a perpetual calendar. This already raises my interest, given my love for perpetual calendars. They’re actually the first perpetual calendar chronographs to be made in series, putting the family of watches at the apex of desirability.
The movement is housed in a 35mm diameter case and except the ‘flavour’, you can hardly tell the difference between them, being that they look so similar. The steel example supposedly stands out because it has “Patek Philippe & Co Genève” on the dial, instead of “Patek Philippe Genève” like its gold counterparts. (I have no idea what the significance is). That, and it’s one of only 4 known models to exist.
What’s the point of me telling you this? Well it just happens to be that the hammer for the stainless steel model dropped at the insane sum of 9.6 Million CHF, or 7.7 Million GBP. If you want to include the buyers fee, the grand total was 11,002,000 CHF! As a result, the watch now boasts the title as the “most expensive watch ever sold in history”.

I was simply blown away by the news. Insane is perhaps one of the words you can use to string a sentence of response. Some might ask what it is that will push a person to put spend that kind of money. In comparison to the scale of things, this auction makes the ref.2499 look like a charity shop special! I mean, what do you do with that kind of watch? Do you even have it serviced? Do you put it on display, only to be admired visually? Perhaps bragging rights?

In the end it doesn’t really matter. The world of horology never ceases to amaze me. It’s so small, yet so vast, with lots of amusing little tidbits to enjoy here and there. This is one of those stories that’ll serve as a remarkable outlier. Somebody has invested in something they see value in. Perhaps they wanted add a crown to their collection, or simply so that they can admire the piece as their own? It’s up to the new owner. Will it reshape the world of consumer watches, causing a huge shift in customer interest? Nope. Will it change the course of the market, bursting the bubble of watch retail? Probably not. The watch has been sold and questioning motives is a fruitless endeavour. I’m just going to say that it was entertaining to see the story unfold.

Let’s leave it at that.

Trying to understand why people are saddened by the ‘Stepan Sarpaneva/Kari Voutilainen phone’

Trying to understand why people are saddened by the ‘Stepan Sarpaneva/Kari Voutilainen phone’

Near the end of October, the online horology world was in uproar over a bit of news that seemingly came out of nowhere: Kari Voutilainen is apparently making mobile phones for luxury company 8848. As a natural response to this, the timepiece wizards over at the major journalism sites began frantically typing away at their desks to give their views on the matter.
The problem at hand is that the nature of the news was extremely short notice and as a result there really wasn’t much information circulating around. But boy was it a topic that would generate headlines. The fact that a lot of the information available was speculation didn’t stop the online world from blasting Sarpaneva, who was also commissioned by 8848 and Voutilainen with criticism. Hodinkee managing editor Stephen Pulvirent wrote a pretty damning article that expressed how “disappointed” he was with the venture. I have to admit, I was also lulled into the hysteria following sensationalised articles and Instagram posts.

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The dust has since settled, and a lot of new facts have emerged. The idea of someone with an upstanding reputation such as Kari Voutilainen potentially “cheapening” his brand by putting his name on a shoddy Chinese phone has mostly subsided. What has now come to light is the fact that Voutilainen and Sarpaneva will only be producing a limited run of bespoke sim card covers (using the dial/bezel making techniques the duo are famous for) that essentially act as an additional accessory to a luxury phone. The craftsmanship and quality of the covers will be the very same as you’d expect to see on both of their timepieces. Apart from that, there isn’t any further relation between the horology masters and the phone company.

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The whole ordeal took place during my school half term so I had a bit of free time to follow up on things. I was actually quite fascinated by it all. I initially asked the question: “Why are people riled up over this?”
It’s fair to say that following the world of watches is quite a niche interest. We’re talking about a community that finds it ‘controversial’ if a particular watch label moves the positioning of a subdial by a fraction of a millimetre. It can be said that any sudden sparks of news in the volatile industry can start a fire. I took this in mind and began trying to come up with an answer. My initial approach was to use the model of ‘Food Truck Economics’. The idea being that, a well established small business with a loyal fan base seems to work on the sole basis it’s a simple thing to appreciate.

A person drives around in a van selling food in a street corner, whilst customers happily queue in line to get a bite to eat. There’s a strong direct relationship between the person making/serving the food, and the customers, which is what makes this unique. The model is broken however, when the presence of ‘big business’ gets involved. All of a sudden the interactions between the customer and food truck owner are lost, as the business begins to expand and making profit is the highest priority. Suddenly the food truck has lost its intangible value and people begin to point fingers and accusations of being a “sell out” begin to emerge.

I suspect this is the main reason people had strong emotions over the news that Voutilainen was associating his name alongside a Chinese phone company. Voutilainen is a leader in independent horology, something that is deemed beloved for its “purity” in an overall industry that often gets riddled with criticism over cheap marketing tricks, superficial exploits and pointless gimmicks. Not to mention the fact that the product in question is a smartphone, which I remember describing as a bit of an antagonist to the realm of traditional watches in my first ever article.
Let’s not forget the fact that there are some clear cultural biases involved. The whole idea of “made in China” already provokes negative sentiment. Any immediate thoughts of luxury in China often stir up images of poor quality items or outright fakes. It definitely plays a part in the reason some might claim the relationship cheapens the brand. I can imagine that there would be less emotion involved, had a well established British luxury label such as Vertu approached Voutilainen instead.

After breaking down the question “why are people annoyed?” the next question is “Does it even matter?”.
It was pointed out to me that Voutilainen isn’t someone who is just “selling food out of a truck” but he is in fact the face of his brand and the owner of a business. Choosing to look at independent watchmaking solely through the window of its “purity” is quite naive. There is a bigger picture to be painted.
What has to be understood is that in a market where the taste of a client can change at a moment’s notice or a sudden dive in the economy will drastically affect buying habits, the prospect of making sales is uncertain. Traditional watchmaking is very resource intensive. The cost of labour and materials runs high. Buying a block of Gold and training a craftsman for several years to tinker away at tiny bits of metal doesn’t come cheap. An opportunity to open doors to a new market of Chinese collectors by showcasing what the watchmaker is capable of producing, especially during financially difficult times is always welcome. If anything it opens a door to ‘insourcing’ and harbouring talent in a well established field.
As Ian Skellern from Quill and Pad stated: “There’s irony in the fact while many Swiss suppliers have been threatened by manufacturing moving to China, here is at least one instance of a Chinese manufacture sourcing from Switzerland.”

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I personally played around with the phone myself, belonging to Voutilainen. Whilst the phone was originally marketed using Voutilainen’s name; with the Sim card cover off, you wouldn’t have the slightest clue that it was associated with a watchmaker. It’s really well made and feels quite good to hold. The performance is snappy and I even took a selfie with it. The Sim card cover added a bespoke feel to the device, something that is sought after in luxury items. Voutilainen seemed like an ideal craftsman to approach for the matter. If anyone is personally familiar with his work, you’ll know how much he values the human interaction with objects. Each of his watches are lettered with “Hand Made” on the dial, to really drive home the emotion. I can see why Voutilainen agreed to work alongside the 8848, and more importantly, why his partners and existing client base had no problem with it whatsoever.

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It appears that the people who were stirred up the most emotionally, were those who skimmed through headlines and Instagram, without taking a moment to really look into things. To the snotty Hodinkee fanboys crying about entitlement to opinions, I’d like to kindly say let’s not worry about how the value of your outlook has devolved, but rather look at how a pair of watchmakers are going out of their comfort zone with the intention of achieving more than just their own personal gain. The business of creating is about being free and bold. Let us not forget how the innovators of the past were criticised for their (then seen as) outlandish actions, only to be praised thereafter.

Brexit on watches

Brexit on watches

 

Intro

Over a week ago, a historic decision was made by the people of Britain. By a narrow majority, a referendum took place, with the outcome leading to Britain declaring it was going to leave the EU.
This isn’t a political commentary page, so I won’t be commenting my views on the decision. But as a horology blog, I think this makes for an interesting opportunity to talk about how Brexit has affected the watch industry.

Brexit, Output, Emergency Exit, Eu, European Union

British Horology

One of the major fears of a Brexit was the idea that a lot of industry would be affected. Foreign multinational companies were predicted to pull out of the UK, looking for alternate trading access to the consumer giant known as the EU. In light of this, I think there isn’t much room for concern for the watch labels of the UK. I think the British watch industry (not including the individual political views of each label) has been and will continue to be, mostly undisturbed by the aftermath of Brexit, at least in terms of selling watches. One thing that has to be noted is that British watchmaking is very niche, with many labels being independent, and having a relatively small client base. Brands like Bremont have a very strong international following, with clients across the globe. Sales abroad will unlikely be affected, though I don’t have any insider information on any company sales. I would think however, that foreign buyers will be all the more interested, given the economic prospects on making purchases in the UK.
British collectors might be in a bit more of an uncertain condition, as they’ll be affected by simply being residents of the UK. That being said, if I’ve learned anything about collectors of such brands, it’s that said collectors are very loyal and won’t give up on their preferred label. They also tend to plan things carefully before making a purchase. Any immediate purchase plans can be put on hold, with the ability to work with, and contact the watch label directly.

One point that has been mentioned throughout the Brexit campaign and not just within the realm of watches, was the idea that people who wanted Britain to remain in the EU were severely undermining Britain’s ability to produce goods that would appeal and sell to the rest of the world. While this is a valid point to note, the current negotiations of trade deals and access to the free market-such as Switzerland have proven unsuccessful. Many labels who source and produce parts outside of the UK, will have their costs increase. This doesn’t bode well with labels who have their prices fixed by the pound and might end up running unprecedented costs.

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British Watchmaking may be seen as relatively small, but there’s certainly no shortage of brands to provide unique and innovative products.

A golden investment opportunity

One of the immediate aftermaths of the referendum was an implosion of the British economy. Overnight, the value of the Pound Sterling fell sharply against rival currencies. Global markets went into a frenzy, and everyone was in panic and shock. The luxury retail sector will most certainly be affected. Many clients of retailers have asked “What effect will Brexit have on our timepieces?”

The answer to this question isn’t too difficult. There have been numerous market and financial collapses over the decades, I wasn’t alive for most of them. In the world of horology as a whole, it’s a proven statement that timeless and collectable watches have withstood these events; facing crises of the past,maintaining and even increasing in value. As the news has begun to settle, investors have begun looking hopefully at opportunities to buy watches at a reduced price. With the current unpredictability  of the market, it can be seen as the perfect time to invest in luxury watches. There’s no denying that the fruits of such an endeavour will be very rewarding.

Business, Cash, Coin, Concept, Credit, Currency

Pidgin economics explain the benefits of buying fixed price goods of a weaker currency, with a more valuable currency. Less money is spent by the investor, and the returns can result in being a very worthwhile purchase.

Asking the watch industry

What better way to get an insight on how Brexit has affect the watch industry, than by directly asking the executives of watch labels?

Alexandre Meerson, Founder Of Meerson Watches

Alexandre Meerson D15 MK-1 GMT British Luxury Watch Brand Swiss Made aritisans

The Meerson D15 Sport Travellers watch. Copyright Alexandre Meerson

 

An independent British luxury watch and accessories brand, whose aim is to cultivate art in the details of their products. Meerson watches are proud to be of British design, and are manufactured in Switzerland, under a team of 88 skilled artisans and watchmakers.

 

“I think we are going through the shock of the vote now, but Brexit – if there is an actual Brexit – will not take place before several years. For us it immediately meant a surge of demand from the US and Europe because of the low British pound. But that is short term. The most important thing is that people are now seriously thinking before buying and will be  greater considering the integrity, reality and the quality of what they are buying, and this is very good for us”

Edouard Meylan, CEO of Moser & Cie

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The Moser Endeavour Perpetual Calendar concept. Copyright Moser & Cie

An independent family run business, Moser stands out among fellow labels for it’s  elegant yet outlandish design, constantly redefining  simplicity.

“Any long term effect is difficult to judge but I don’t think it will affect much. Currently the main effect is the change in currency valuation which makes watches very cheap in the UK we seem to see an increase in sales. This is a short term effect and will stabilise once the arbitrage levels up as retailers review pricing”

 

Giles Ellis, founder of Schofield Watch Company

A British watch label based in the West Sussex countryside. Schofield strives to produce unique and impeccably designed timepieces, made both in Germany and England.

Schofield Blacklamp Carbon
The Schofield Blacklamp Carbon. Copyright Schofield Watch Company

“We will not forecast the effects of leaving the EU, as it was guessing that got us in this mess to begin with. We deal in facts and at present these are financial. The weak pound is a double edged sword, it costs us more to buy parts from Europe but we see increased sales outside of the UK. It is business as usual for Schofield”

 

Richard Hoptroff, Founder of Hoptroff London

A London based watch company, Hoptroff timepieces can easily be distinguished as the most accurate in the world. Each piece is a compendium of physics and maths, paired with unique design.

Hoptroff No.16

The Hoptroff no.16 can be credited to be among the most accurate timepieces you’ll ever see on a person’s wrist. Copyright Hoptroff London.

“It’s hard to say what the impact will be, since there nobody seems to know where we go from here!  What is clear is that we will have a weakened exchange rate, meaning importing parts will be more expensive, but our watches will appear lower cost to export markets”

Summary:

I think as a whole, particularly on the level of high end luxury; the watch industry will be a bit ruffled from the Brexit news in early days. A lot of people are quite uneasy over the idea of making forecasts, but the basic facts are enough to draw a decent conclusion. It has to be noted that there will be a unanimous need to adjust to the immediate geopolitical and economic climate. Things will be volatile-but there’s confidence from all sides that the industry will regain it’s footing over time. I’d also like to give a huge thanks to the watch labels who have agreed to be featured in this article.

About

About

This website was part of an idea concocted by my 16 year old self. I thought about a way of venting my horological passion onto a platform where I could test my writing skills and interact with fel…

Source: About

Delving into the world of watches

Delving into the world of watches

Intro

Time is an incredibly fascinating subject. We are the only known species in the world to have conceptualised it, built a numerical system around it, and even fought wars over it. Keeping track of time is an element that has allowed mankind to flourish.
For the past millennia, civilisation has endeavoured to capture the essence of time; in terms of accuracy, artisanship and the ingenious ways it can be harnessed. Those who follow this art form, are known as horologists.

Now, with that whimsical bit aside, one of the first questions new horologists ask is: “What’s the best way for me to get into watches?”

The beauty with this field, is that it’s very abstract. There is no correct procedure to get into watches. Though it’s a field that’s often wrongly solely associated with connoisseurs, and that it requires immense expertise to get into.  This couldn’t be further from reality.

Take me for example; it comes about as a juxtaposed thought for a teenager in East London to identify as a watch collector and enthusiast. It’s often noted that socioeconomic backgrounds correlate with a person’s interest in what can be deemed “niche” areas of interest. Watches most certainly fall under that scope. That being said, a millennial 16 year old East London boy with an interest in names such as Vacheron Constantin and Patek Philippe doesn’t seem to fit the usual mould of being “mega rich or inherited from family”. There’s certainly nothing to stop anyone else from carrying out their passion.

The Internet:

Everyone has their own story on how they got into watches, and it’s usually that story that can lead a person on to taking their interest further. My story was quite unexceptional, with my main source of knowledge coming from online searches; consisting of videos, blogs and reviews. That being said, I think it’s fair to say that most new watch enthusiasts gain their knowledge online.
The internet is a very powerful tool with seemingly unlimited resources. There is a huge watch community online that I’ve found to be very welcoming and encouraging. Whilst I don’t personally use them, online forums such as Timezone and Thewatchforum are good starts, but there are plenty of others.
Videos by aBlogtoWatch and Hodinkee are another great resource. Their websites are always up to date with the latest horology news; stocked with reviews, commentary and interviews. They are very condensed and are well-edited, which makes for a great way to learn and be entertained. This is especially useful if-like me, you’re not interested in scrolling through hundreds of forum pages.

 

Books:

Many people get into watches through this route.  Whilst the internet is abundant with resources, you just can’t beat the content found in a good book. These are often written by learned specialists that focus on a very specific area. A friend of mine used such books to get into watchmaking, and swears by them. I would personally recommend books by George Daniels and Moonwatch.  That being said, the issues I see with books is that they’re quite uncommon and tend to be very expensive. Certain books are clearly collector’s items, such as those written by Mondani , and aren’t intended for newcomers. With a bit of research, you could venture through the pages of Ebay and get a great deal.

George Daniels, a legendary watchmaker that revolutionised the world of horology. Revered as the ‘Godfather’ of watches. Some of the best horology works are written by him, or were inspired by his work.

Socialising:

One of the most fun ways of getting into watches is by socialising with fellow collectors and enthusiasts. This can mean a whole range of things, from a cup coffee with a friend, visiting a boutique and my personal favourite: going to watch events.

If you happen to live in a major city such as New York or London, then there are abundant opportunities for watch events. A prominent example for me was the 2015 Patek exhibition at the Saatchi gallery in my home city of London. Other examples include SalonQP, which is available to the public, and is a great opportunity to see the latest concoctions by major watch brands, meet fellow enthusiasts, and even talk directly to watchmakers themselves! I was invited to the event last winter by Richard Hoptroff and got to see his brilliant pieces up close, as well as have a pleasant conversation. These opportunities are especially great if you happen to be the only watch enthusiast within a 10 mile radius of where you live!

The above examples require moving about and travelling, though in truth you don’t even need to leave your doorstep.  One of the most useful and powerful tools you have is your mobile phone. Social media will prove to be a gateway to establishing your name in the world of watches. You’d be surprised how a few unique and interesting posts, paired with a couple of well placed hashtags can get you noticed by people. I’m currently working towards this myself, using social media to promote my interests and gain support for my own endeavours. Showing good character will set you apart and be a really good boost in making friends.

Last year with Stephen McDonnell, designer of the MB&F Legacy Machine Perpetual Calendar. Kari Voutilainen can be seen in the corner.

 

The Really Important Bit:

Getting into watches is a great thing. There’s so much variety and so many things that you can learn in your journey of horology.  The most important thing is to simply take your own steps and work at your own pace. You’re doing this because you’re passionate about it. You chose this for yourself. Don’t let anyone intimidate or put you down.
For the everyman watch enthusiast, it often comes as a bit of a rarity to handle high-end luxury watches. Don’t think this is a bad thing. The fun is in the hunt, and it’s up to you to find what interests you. Your first watch may be a microbrand mechanical piece that you bought at a market. You know what? That’s absolutely fine! For whatever reason, the watch you bought caught your attention and you wanted it. I find that to be more interesting than someone blindly throwing money at some mutilated piece of shiny metal studded with rocks.

I love watches because it encompasses my love for engineering and design, other people will have different reasons. Your reason is what will set you apart as unique, and don’t be afraid to use that as a platform to set off and explore!

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A vintage Baronet piece that I won on Instagram giveaway competition over a year ago. To this day, I’m very good friends with the person who held the giveaway. This watch may not be looked at twice by anyone on the luxury watch scene, but for me it narrates a story and acts as a symbol of friendship. For that reason, it holds a value that cannot be priced.