London’s re-emergence as a centre for watch design is continuing with the creation of another startup brand, Harcourt London.
The watch company was created as a tribute to the late father of Jack Clarke, a racing driver, with his half brother Daniel Bailey, a sports agent, and their friend Matt Spelman, a City trader.
None of the trio have any experience of watch-making or retail, but threw themselves into designing a range of luxurious-looking timepieces that they hope will appeal to citizens of London and the wider world.
The initial finance to produce a prototype came from their own pockets plus investment from family and friends.
“People probably thought we were mad,” said Mr Clarke. “We are all massively busy with our own careers and just paying the rent that to take on a world in which we had limited knowledge or experience seemed crazy. But it is interesting what you learn by just ‘doing’ and it was a wonderful moment when the first watch arrived for our inspection.”
It took a year to move from a prototype to the first commercial models, during which the founders used their personal contacts along with social media reach to promote the launch.
“The three of us have many friends and contacts in our quite different worlds and we decided that we would really test out the power of social media and word of mouth. After a long twelve months we finally took delivery of the watches and here we go,” says Mr Bailey.
The Harcourt London name and its first watches are named after places and people that have a personal connection to the founders.
- Harcourt – the company name and a family middle name has passed through Jack’s paternal family for many generations.
- The Teesdale – on the maternal side of Jack and Daniel is the name of the company that owned a number of motorsport titles including the famous ‘Motor Sport’ magazine.
- The Hamble is the name of the street in SW London where Matt bought his first house and Daniel became his lodger.
- The Bailey – the family name of Daniel whose father is ex F1 driver Julian Bailey (who also served as Top Gear’s Stig for a number of years).
- The Dunmore – relating to a Bahamian ‘Out Island’ – Harbour Island – where some of the Clarke family still live today and where Jack’s parents met.
- The Taylor – the maiden name of Jack and Daniel’s maternal grandmother.
- The Cranbrook – the road on which Daniel lived during his university years in Bristol.
- The Royal T – A Clarke family house on Harbour Island dating back to the 1800s
The watches are unisex, with all models suiting both genders, and come in two separate face sizes of 36mm and 40mm.
The watches will initially sell only online from the Harcourt London website. Prices range from £130-150.