I make watches for the love of building things

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By Lorne Gifford

“As an engineer I find it impossible not to take things apart and try to improve them, from subsea multiphase flow meters to hi-fis, but watches have been a particular joy.

“It was only a matter of time before I started building my own watches and in 2012 Offshore Professional was born with the creation of the Field Engineer chronograph based on the 7750 movement and the values of quality, strength and performance.

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“I don’t know, or to be honest care, too much about where my watches sit in the market. I don’t run the company as a profit-generating enterprise since I have a day job as a subsea engineer that provides for my wife and children. I run the company for the love of building and tinkering with things. Of the two dozen Field Engineer chronographs I’ve built half have been bought by engineers in the oil industry. The others have gone to individuals who simply like it, or in the case of Field Engineer 016, fancy taking it to the North Pole to test its ability to survive minus 50°C.

“At the high-end of the market the emergence of British watch companies is part of a general trend toward diversification and niche manufacturing in the UK. At the low end it’s rebranding Chinese products to be more acceptable to western markets. I don’t really push the idea of Britishness when it comes to Offshore since I largely work overseas in the oil industry but I am immensely proud of the world view of British as a by-word for the very best engineers. And since we ruled the waves I use Britannia and her trident as a logo. For a brand to say it is British-made I do think that there should a
substantive British involvement; be it in the design, engineering, assembly, movement or component manufacture.

“I don’t really believe the government should put up funding to help re-establish watchmaking in the UK as any involvement by government bureaucracy is more effort than it’s worth, distorts the market and would fall foul of EU anti-competitive legislation. A tax break might be nice though.

“Looking ahead, Offshore’s Field Engineer 016 is going to the North Pole this winter. As far as the brand though, I think I’ll just keep making them in small quantities. I’ve been toying with the idea of building a slim 7750 based chronograph capable of surviving abyssal plain depths. Tooling and machine costs are a little high for me to build them at the moment though.”

This column was taken from the September 2012 issue of WatchPro magazine. If you work in the watch industry and would like to write a guest column for WatchPro email the editor at rachael.taylor@itp.com.

 

 

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