Simon Michlmayr, founder of the newly launched watch brand Meridian, is a man on a mission. A mission to create a watch entirely in the UK.
“It is possible,” he says, “but not quite yet. I’ve found the people with the skills, we just have to get them up to the level of quality we want.”
Quality is an issue for Simon – rarely will you meet a man so driven to create a perfect product or so passionate about making them in Britain. “With a name like Michlmayr that could come as a surprise – my father was Austrian – but I was born and raised here and, though it’s migrated since, horology started here and that’s important to me.”
It’s an urge, he confirms, a real passion project. “It sounds poncy to say that the money doesn’t matter – and we do of course want to make a good living out of it – but truly, it really is about making something. Apart from when I’m playing with my daughter, I think I’m happiest when at the bench.”
There’s a sense of destiny to Simon’s quest. He says: “My father was in the business and as soon as I went to college in Switzerland I knew I wanted to make watches. But in between running the daily business, it’s been hard.”
It’s taken since 1986, in fact. But now he’s there, having launched Meridian in 2012. “The hardest thing was actually letting go and pushing it out into the world,” he says, admitting to being so obsessed that he was constantly improving the design.
“I think it’s in our nature to never really be 100% happy but you have to get it out there sometime, and the reaction was really positive.” And by next month he will have sold more than 100, far beyond his expectations.
But back to the British mission. Pushed for a timeframe, he says it should happen by the end of next year. “At the moment we are buying in Swiss movements and modifying them in house. By the end of next year we will be manufacturing in house.” It will affect the price, but Simon is happy there will be no resistance to that.
He will continue to research and refine. Next up is a slimming down of the watch from 46mm to 42mm and he will of course continue to make improvements in pursuit of that elusive perfection. May he never stop.
Meridian founder Simon Michlmayr was a Bering One to Watch in the WatchPro Hot 100 2013 in association with The Company of Master Jewellers. To read a digital version of the book in full online, click here.