Today is our birthday. Marloe Watch Company is 6 years old. It’s OK if you haven’t sent us a card; we get it. It’s been a weird old year, and you’re probably not supposed to go to the Post Office anyway. Today is also the anniversary of a far less pleasant, but very significant day; the day that the UK was first put into a full lockdown.
A year ago today, Coronavirus in the public perception had, very suddenly, gone from being regarded as a mysterious illness that some people on a cruise ship and in one small part of China had, to something that you were at real risk of catching in your local Waitrose. Boris - a fresher-faced version of the one we see today - appeared on our TV screens, advising that all non-essential social contact must be stopped, businesses must close, and we heard the first utterances of those now horribly familiar words; “stay at home.”
I think it’s safe to say that none of us anticipated that, a year later, we would still be living under lockdown rules. At that point, we had been suddenly catapulted into an almost novel world of panicked shoppers stockpiling flour and pasta, a national toilet paper shortage, furlough, and a sudden separation from our normal networks and communities. Joe Wicks workouts, banana-bread baking, Zoom calls, working from home woes and doorstep clapping followed. Many individuals were shielding, while many were fortunate enough at that point to regard Covid-19 as ‘something that other people get’. As we all now know, nobody was truly safe from its reach. The stark reality of the situation became clear as infection rates and the death toll rose. We stopped having our fun Zoom quizzes, we stopped clapping on a Thursday night, and we started to realise that this wasn’t something that was going to end any time soon. Babies were born and still haven’t met their wider families, friends and lovers have been kept separate, many have struggled with the unnatural burden and toll of living in total isolation. So many have lost loved ones.
Our NHS has been under tremendous strain and our economy has taken a huge hit. There’s been very little to celebrate as a nation. We know that many members of our Marloe community will have experienced loss in one way or another, and we wish to extend our sincere condolences to you all; this last year has been one that I’m sure many of us do not wish to dwell on.
Thankfully, there is much to be grateful for today. Vaccinations are being administered to those most vulnerable, and it’s anticipated that, by the end of July, all over-18s within the UK will be vaccinated. Children have, over the last week or two, begun to return to schools and there’s a growing sense of hope - albeit a very cautious one.
Among the loss, the fear and the upheaval of our daily lives, there have been great moments. People have come together, even when they’re not able to physically do so, to support those in need. Science has, as swiftly as possible, shown us a road out of the situation we are in. Many have worked night and day throughout this time, while others have had to find ways to occupy long days without employment. We have reconsidered, reprioritised, and revalued what truly matters to us. Personally, within the MWC ranks, there’s been the arrival of a new baby, who just turned 1 year old. There has been the Northwards migration of Marloe Watch Company to Scotland, which has allowed Gordon to truly interact with and sit at the centre of the Marloe community for the first time. We have tentatively found ways to work together from afar, with Oliver managing the business remotely, unable to commute to Scotland as had been planned, and Gordon and I here in Perth. Like every business, we have had to reconsider and adapt how we work to ensure the safety of ourselves, our families and our customers, and we are incredibly grateful that we have been able to continue to trade, and to balance our family and work lives, when so many businesses and individuals have faced insurmountable hardships.
For Gordon, the summer of 2020 was spent, of course, at home or alone in the new Scottish base - however, this enabled him to fervently immerse himself in the Atlantic project.
As is the Marloe way, the flight-inspired watch that many of you may be wearing on your wrists right now came about as a result of one spark of inspiration igniting a vast inferno of information, research, stories, encounters, and experimentation. The design was honed, prototypes received, and, not a moment too soon, the finished product was here at HQ - the physical embodiment of Gordon's perseverance, an ode to human endeavour in their pursuit of the skies, and his proudest work to date. Over the course of 2 immersive, memorable days of free-flowing collaboration and creativity, the Atlantic promotional film was shot and - pun intended - the project was ready to take flight.
What began as an investigation into the dawn of flight for the Atlantic soon evolved into a fascination with early manufacturing methods and resource usage, something which has since inspired the creation of a very special limited edition watch; the Haskell Global. Things have a way of growing arms and legs here at Marloe Watch Company, and the unique pressure cooker environment that the last, very strange, year afforded Gordon has resulted in some truly exciting new designs, concepts and shifts in mindset for 2021 and beyond.
The latter end of 2020 also saw us solidify a long-standing relationship; Marloe Watch Company formed an official partnership with the Campbell Family Heritage Trust. The Coniston collection has become an iconic member of the Marloe family, with the Bluebird at the heart of the range. Having the opportunity to talk to and work with the Campbell family themselves has opened up a whole new realm of inspiration to dig into; a true look into the heart of the family that led to Sir Malcolm and Donald achieving such incredible speeds and undertaking such all-consuming endeavours. As a result of this partnership and the extensive research that Gordon has immersed himself in over the last year, we have this week been busy preparing two very special editions - the Bonneville and the Eyre - for release later this month. We can’t wait for you to meet them.
Within the next couple of months, our brand new custom-built HQ, on the banks of Loch Leven, will near completion; an architectural and design-led space of our very own to call home, with a minimal environmental impact and a pretty nice view to boot. This HQ gives us room to grow, and to bring the assembly of our watches in-house - something that has been a long-standing ambition of MWC. As the world begins to reawaken, to shake off the dust and to slowly creak back into action, we wait with hope and excitement at our core for a fresh start - for us and the world. We have, against all odds, and with the utmost recognition of how tough it has been for so many, had a good year - and for that we are truly thankful. Here’s to the next one.