One of the most common questions that we get asked in relation to the future of Marloe Watch Company is "are you worried about smart watches?"
If we had our eyes on the future-proof prize; on keeping up with the technological Joneses, so to speak, then we wouldn't have entered into a business making mechanical watches. They're our passion, and we know they are the passion of many, despite the growing normalcy of high-tech, all-encompassing smart watches.
The short answer to the question is no; we aren't worried. Perhaps this seems a bit naive - above all this week, as we have released to the press the findings of a piece of research, recently commissioned by Marloe Watch Company, aimed at identifying the percentage of people within a range of age groups who struggle to tell the time on a traditional clock.
The findings could be deemed to be alarming to traditional watch designers and makers, especially those who wish to cater to younger generations. Our research, undertaken via a YouGov survey of more than 2,000 people, shows that more than a fifth of 18 to 24-year-olds struggle to understand a conventional clock with hands, and only half of this age group - known as Generation Z - say that they never struggle to tell the time. Millennials don't fare much better; nearly one in five 25 to 34-year-olds admits that they also have trouble with the big and little hands. The extent of the problem has come as a shock to us - and judging by the media coverage that the study's findings have received this week, from an article published in The Times to co-founder Oliver's live appearance on Sky News yesterday, to the general public as a whole.
In stark contrast, only 4 per cent of over-55s have a problem with telling the time on a traditional clock or watch. It seems that telling the time is becoming somewhat of a lost art; something which used to be a basic skill, but which is slowly being lost. The blame seems to lie mainly on the ubiquity of smart phones and watches - these have quickly become consumers' digital pocket watches, able to quickly adjust to time zones in the blink of an eye, always exact, and functioning from the same compact cuboid of assorted metals which houses music and media players, instant access to email and social media, health trackers and a host of functionalities which grows by the day.
We fully understand that traditional, analogue watches are not necessities; and that well-designed, well-made and mechanical watches which are manufactured and sold at a higher price point than quartz fashion watches could be considered even less necessary. The reason that we aren't worried about this is that our intention has never been to compete with smart watches.
At the very core of Marloe Watch Company is a passion for a slower way of life; as the technology brands fight it out over who makes the smartest watch, Marloe has been proudly going against the grain to create the most traditional of all watches - the mechanical timepiece. Inside all our timepieces, aside from the automatic Morar diver, is a manual mechanical movement that is powered by the marriage of your own touch and the timeless beauty of mechanical craftsmanship. Each turn of the crown sets up the power of the mainspring to be steadily released over the hours that follow. Though the act of winding a watch is unfamiliar to most of us at first, it soon becomes an enjoyable daily ritual - a moment of perfect peace and harmony that literally connects you with time. We are fans of home-grown food, of sourdough starters and home brewing with wildly varying levels of success, of hand-crafted gifts and of taking time to create something which is designed to last and to be treasured; an object is immeasurably more meaningful when it has been created that way.
Smart phones and watches are not heirloom pieces. Depending on how much you buy into the conspiracy theories, it seems like many of them are designed to all but self-destruct after a certain lifespan, forcing the owner to 'upgrade' and to spend more money in return for the functionality that they had originally bought into. We don't know of anyone who hands down the smart watch that they have worn daily to a son or daughter after a couple of years; whereas the gift of a traditional watch, worn by a loved one for a generation, gifted to a new owner who will rely on its endurance and functionality for another generation is something truly special.
We love mechanical watches. We love their beauty, their design, their reliability and their history, and we are delighted on a daily basis to see that others love them too. From teenagers receiving their very first mechanical watch, to graduation gifts; from a husband's gift to his wife or a special watch for a wedding day, to anniversary celebrations and Marloe-shaped boxes under Christmas trees, we see generations of all ages choosing heritage, design and soul over fast tech every day. Analogue watches aren't for everyone, and that's OK; we are more than happy with the space we occupy within the market and within the world, and we keep great company.