In our new series we will chart the progress of designing the next Morar dive watch. Join us each time to see how we go about researching, designing, developing and producing our dive watch, as well as interact with us directly during one of our live-streaming episodes.
Time has a strict way of moving - unerring and consistent, it waits for no-one and suffers no fools. We live through time in a linear stream from moment to moment, dealing with everything that is thrown at us the best we can, and I really do believe that the most useful life lessons can be discovered in the deepest moments of despair. Sweating the problems and pushing through, we can retrospectively look back and understand what we gathered from that trying time.
The Morar and the trajectory of that project was a particularly challenging time for me, because it was a watch that I was convinced would do really well, just because it was so different, so unlike all other watches in the category. I still remember the first sketch I did for the Morar, and it wasn’t that long ago in the grand scheme of things. I was still working full time as a draughtsperson and dreaming of the day that I could design watches for a living. I’d get home from work, have dinner with my wife and daughter before heading upstairs to my spare room to get to work on potential watch designs, in hope that one day they’d see the light.
Part of my drive in life is plotting paths that are my own, and the concept of the Morar was to design a dive watch that didn’t follow the mould set out by the dive watch market at that time - and there were many in this mould, each iteration growing in size and bulk, and I just didn’t want to follow that blueprint. Why couldn’t a dive watch be small yet still high in performance? Why did a dive watch need to have a mirror polished case and a ceramic bezel insert to BE a dive watch? Couldn’t it take on another form - one that was closer to the original purpose of that watch? I thought about the environmental conditions of both recreational and commercial diving, and what a watch might look like to withstand those sorts of conditions. I mean, if we’re going to design a dive watch, it should look and function best when in those conditions?
It's an interesting topic, especially given the perspective we now hold, about what actually constitutes a dive watch. The market we fed the Morar into wasn’t receptive to a watch that didn’t feature a single mirrored surface, that didn’t follow the blueprints expected of that style of watch. A dive watch, it seems, is more than the function; in this very particular case, function does follow form - and it’s something we intend to learn from.
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The research for the Morar was heavily focused on the history of diving, why a watch was even required and the technologies that were invented to support these goals. The creation of alloys and materials to withstand the corrosive environments of salt water, and the modernisation of dive watches over the decades. The dive watch wasn’t invented just “because” - it was a response to the call of conflict, like most innovations that we take for granted in the present are, and was a product of necessity, rather than luxury today.
There were a few details in the Morar design that I wanted to try and keep through to production - for so many things can be lost to compromise - the bezel needed to look circular when viewed from above - no evidence of jagged grips. I really liked the idea of this smooth pebble-like curved bezel surface leading to a hidden, yet still functional grip. The second was the size - 40mm diameter was, at the time, a bit of a unique size for a dive watch - we were seeing 43mm+ in the market but, historically, dive watches were 40mm or even smaller. If we could make it work in a 40mm framework, then we had the “getting back to roots” angle - that was key, keep it small, slim yet still very robust. And that was the third point - we wanted to name this watch the Morar, because of the Loch and how deep it is, but this meant that our watch needed to be able to survive the entire depth of Loch Morar - 310 metres. A funny number, given most watches are rated to 300, but to be safe we decided that we’d get our manufacturing partners to test our watches to 350 metres.
The package, then, was pretty exciting - a 40mm diameter x 10mm thick dive watch, with all the features you’d expect of a usable dive watch - uni-directional bezel, vast water resistance, incredible lume and an automatic movement - the first watch we ever designed to feature an auto. That’s not to say we didn’t try to use a manual movement at first - we tried very hard, but we'll get into that later. We designed the watch to ISO 6425 standards - that is to say the watch could have passed the test, had it been tested. On top of that pretty good spec list we had a choice of 5 dial options, 3 case finishes and we stuck two strap choices in the box as well. As they say in watchland, it was a pretty good value proposition. And yet it never really resonated, leading to its discontinuation and the final wave goodbye to that little tank. And then something weird happened.
I said recently on a live-stream that I wouldn’t consider another dive watch until I was ready to redesign the Morar and go again, using what we’ve learned about the original project, but also the other projects besides the Morar - it’s all been an incredibly informative 4 years since the original Morar design was handed to manufacturers. In that intervening time the Morar has taken on a bit of a mythical status, and there are repeated calls for it to come back. I think now is the time, given how long our projects take from first sketch to launching into the world, to think about the Morar and how we can reignite the project from our current perspective. What better way to celebrate this journey, than to take you all along with me.
So over the course of the next 9 months I will, where possible, present the progress of the Morar project at regular intervals and show you just how we go about bringing the Morar v2 to market. I’ll talk about the dive watch market, the new brief for the Morar, what choices we have to make, the decisions that change the direction of projects, the limitations of budget, market demand and manufacturing, interviews with interesting people as well as a whole load besides. This series will take the form of both live-streaming, interacting with you all as I update progress, as well as pre-recorded films that can lean a bit more into the creative side of filmmaking. It’ll be a nice balance I think, and a fun way to show you all how one of our watches is designed from the ground up. Who knows, there might even be some live designing!
I’m excited to get started on the next phase of the Morar’s journey - it’ll be informative and interesting to work in this way, and I hope you’ll join me in a few weeks for our first project live-stream.