Improvement is the aim of our game - one we try to play as expertly as possible. Three years ago, we designed and manufactured what would become the Solent range of watches, a double-header of the Cardinal and Windward models, as well as an offshoot, The Dart.
This range was designed in the crucible of Covid, and although initially they didn't pass our internal quality checks and had to be returned to our manufacturing partner, the end result became a starting point for a whole series of watches; the Sceptre and Tay used the Solent’s case architecture to create two more very special watches. The plan had always been to have three in the range, but when we moved production last year, we thought it might be time to revisit the original Solent concept: a bi-crown, internal bezelled, nautically inspired watch.
Three years later, we're finally able to reveal what we’d always hoped the Solent would be: a beautifully nautical, lighthouse-leaning, ocean-carved maritime marvel. It’s so exciting to know the Solent Timer will be out in the world as we originally saw it, and despite taking a lot longer to arrive, we look forward to getting them out there.
A very astute question arose during a recent event at our new HQ in Sonning Common:
“Do you benefit from economies of scale and lower manufacturing costs from repeat productions, and do we, as customers, see any benefit too?”
The answer was three-fold.
Firstly, yes, we do benefit from economies of scale and lower manufacturing costs from repeat productions because we have already created the tooling necessary to make that particular watch. The time and expense are in the making of the tooling in the first place, so that mass production is smooth and swift.
Secondly, customers benefit in that we can reorder, with a bit less time between ordering and making, meaning more customers can get their hands on models that may have previously sold out. It also makes it easier to adapt and iterate slightly, whether it be dials and hands or mechanical improvements. As long as we don’t adapt the main components that are costly to resolve - cases, bezels, crowns, etc - we can create new versions of watches based on a similar architecture; think the Haskell Black Edition, Global, Polar Blue and Field Standard, or the Bonneville and Eyre, based on the Coniston architecture.
Lastly, we are a bespoke designer and producer of many ranges of watches. Our joy is found in designing new timepieces and watching them become physical forever products. This means making new tooling every time we design a new range, and thinking back through the projects, we’ve now designed, tooled and manufactured more than 18 different watch ranges - more than two a year since we started in 2015. It’s not the most cost-effective way of doing things, but we love making new watches too much. As with everything in life, balance is key.
The Solent Timer is the start, we hope, of a long train of watches that will form part of our core offering into the distant future. It’s a project that has captured the best parts of the original Solent and been adapted to include various elements of feedback we received from you guys, so that we could create a better watch. Luminous markings. Polished cases. Screw down crowns. Internal bezels. The colourways are adapted too, with the Cardinal remaining the main bridge between the two projects, albeit in a simpler and more vivid outing.
We’ve always been a bit conservative when it comes to colour, erring on the side of caution, with mostly blues, blacks and greens - colours that are compatible with most tastes and outfits. However, more recently we’ve decided that bright, vivid colours bring a lot to the table in the segment of the market we operate in. Watches should be fun, and enjoyment wanes when you start getting too serious about a hobby - a hobby and a business! Yes, there’s a lot to juggle and not a day goes by without some sort of firefighting, but we still love what we do, and keeping it fun is essential to retaining the passion to create unique and interesting products.
Throughout the Solent Timer range we’ve tried to explore colour in a tasteful way. Texture, in the form of radially brushed rings, diagonal 'bend' lines and painted surfaces bring a lot of visual excitement too. I don’t think we could ever have deployed diagonally printed lines on a watch before now - Oliver would have had a heart attack. Yet the Oceanic and Rescue look incredible because of them.
We're delighted the first ever Solent Timers are now making their way out into the wild - we couldn’t be more thrilled with the way they look and feel on the wrist. A real sparkling gem of a conversation starter. We hope you love them as much as we do.