There is a gap in the market for British watches

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By Giles Ellis

With a background in graphic and product design, I created Schofield Watch Company out of a desire to make a watch that I would like to wear, one built to meticulous standards and attention to detail.

My motivation isn’t driven by a desire to be fashionable. I am a man obsessed with detail and thoroughness. If I design something I like to know every detail has been considered.

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At the outset Schofield Watch Company was not a commercial venture, but a personal endeavour. It soon became prohibitive to make a single watch and the business expanded accordingly. Schofield Watch Company was born. The debut Signalman watch, when finished, has parts from more 35 different suppliers and each of the watch takes more than 4,000 man hours to hit the market.

The increase in British watch brands has been down to a gap in the market. We see ourselves as the club for the discerning gent. Those buying a watch are typically sent a welcome pack which includes a custom made and very expensive cigar tube containing a Cuban Romeo Y Julieta Corona hand-rolled cigar. Members are given inside information on Schofield, future ideas and the things we craft.

The Britishness of our brand is very real. If a product or component can be made to exacting standards in the UK then we will choose to have it made here over and above cheaper alternatives. If manufacturing cannot be done in the UK then we will go wherever it is done best.

I believe that British brands can rival the Swiss industry, with the same cache, clever verticalisation and investment. But I think the best way that Britain can promote its brands is by not trying to compete with the Swiss too much, by removing as much marketing bumf as possible, staying sincere and honest.

Very gently perhaps, we could introduce a British standard for watchmakers or British watch companies. It would be foolish at this stage to too tightly constrain a burgeoning business. But at the same time we don’t want brands using the term British as a sole marketing concept without a real effort to make it so, diluting the credibility of our industry.

Are we making efforts to invest back in Britain? That’s a big and interesting yes from a small watch company. I am saying no more at this stage.

Through education, though, I think the government could put forward funding to help re-establish watchmaking in the UK by supporting watchmaking as a viable career option and its surrounding industries. Things like product design, material sciences, engineering, graphics and packaging, marketing, photography, SEO that go into making a viable watch brand could be part of it.

If the government did more to make these industries cool and inspiring to young people then we can get on track to restoring British manufacturing to its former glory especially in the watch industry.

At Schofield Watch Company we want to keep on doing what we are doing. Making small runs of limited edition products and giving our customers the highest level of service. We endeavour to bring as much of the production to the UK as the business grows

 

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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