Out of the 12 months in a year, comprising 365 days, we’ve covered nearly half of them already without even touching the ground, or so it seems. We deal in time, it’s our currency, and you’d think we would be good at recognising the fleeting nature of it, yet we seem to spend it faster every year.
We knew 2023 would be a front-loaded year, with the pre-orders of the Sceptre, Tay and Coniston Auto all being shipped in January, and our new true GMT hot on their heels. This meant that we had a good block of time between the GMT launch and our next model appearing to catch up on creating new designs and getting them to production.
So what’s been happening since then, what’s going on behind the scenes? Well, settle in, for I’m about to tell you.
Covid is still around and still causing gripe, and so too is the legacy of what it cost the world. From a manufacturing perspective things are still not quite caught up and we’re still experiencing delays in some areas. Even the initial phase of technical documentation is dragging heels purely because the resource required is still climbing its way back up the pyramid of efficiency.
We also saw one of our main suppliers shut their doors, causing a lot of our renewable projects - things that we could re-order quickly - to disappear. Models like the Sceptre and Coniston Auto now have to be transferred to new suppliers and with those transfers comes a refresh of the product cycle. New technical documentation, new sampling, new tooling. It would be nice if we could just bounce the existing tooling across but IP and machine compatibility means that’s not possible.
So we’ve been working flat out to get those projects up to speed as soon as we physically can so that we can begin restocking and updating some ranges with new colourways and iterative improvements. It’s a bit of a pain but we’re getting there and our hope is to have these popular products back in our stocks before Christmas.
Projects in the Works
Our Swiss Made Daytimer project is coming along nicely - we received initial samples recently of the case, dial and hands, and they all look fantastic. We have tweaked a few bits to increase quality and aesthetics and are awaiting a second round of samples now. In the past we would have signed off the first samples and hoped that, by the time the production arrived the improvements would be realised, but we don’t do that anymore. There’s too much risk of disappointment and subsequent delay in remedying these oversights - ask us how we know…
We are excited to be in the final production phase of the new Solent Timer design - a dual-crown iteration on the Solent framework that adds an internally moving bezel and some additional colourways. The Solent was originally intended to be a dual-crown design but didn’t pan out for the initial release, so I’m pretty excited to see it happening finally - I think it has such a nice balance and looks even more nautical, if that’s a thing.
New projects include the Morar 310 - the follow up to the Wabi Sabi original. I’ve started a YouTube series for this project and it seems to be enjoyed by those who tune in. I love making these videos and it’s a great way to craft a story - a feel for what we do here. The series is about to move onto the design phase and I’ve got a bulk of footage ready to edit, but we're awaiting the technical documentation phase, as well as pricing, before I launch the next episode. If we are to show the process then we should also show what happens if the technical phase throws a spanner in the works. I’ll say this though, the Morar 310 is looking phenomenal… in my humble opinion.
Other projects include a number of partnerships that have inspired our watch designs, which I’ll keep schtum about for now, but there’s quite a lot of inspiration to be found at the National Motor Museum, and I’m heading down there for a look soon. Whisky might be on the cards too… other than that we’re developing some interesting designs like a 38mm with integrated bracelet, an update of the Astro and a few other things besides - the design office spends a lot of time in concept stage so many of the designs will fall away, allowing other stronger designs to take the lead. It’s an exciting time and it's getting easier to focus on the development of design as a result of the upcoming opening of our new HQ, located on the outskirts of Henley.
The plan was to create a destination, a place to come and see the world as it is to Marloe Watch Company. When we relocated to Scotland in January 2020 we had big ideas… but then Coronavirus decided to wade into the mix. Since then we’ve been furiously paddling to stay above water, only really finding some semblance of consistency and stability in the past 12 months, and a lot of that is down to Nicola coming on board and bringing her stoic, no-nonsense approach to everything. And Oliver and I have a lot of nonsense to offer as well.
Oliver has been, it could be argued (and he does), the most affected by this confluence of Corona circumstances. Working remotely only succeeds if you can, at some point, reconvene together. Being locked down and hundreds of miles away during 2020 and 2021 meant that he became more detached than any of us, and makes complete sense why now, with things coming back to normality, he is keen to get hands back on the daily workings of Marloe. We are a team and we only work best when we’re all happy. It wouldn’t be an overshare to say that happiness has been relegated recently.
I’m keen for him to get hands back on too, because for the past 3 years I’ve been his pseudo proxy, doing the eyes-on things he would usually do like checking repairs, returns, exchanges and customer interactions. Don’t get me wrong, I have enjoyed seeing this side of the business so closely, but my duty here at Marloe is to be the design and manufacturing arm of the business and I’ve not been able to fully commit to that for a long time. I’ve managed, and through no small feat of endurance and exhaustion, I've been able to continue our drive towards the highest quality of product and brand, but it’s been a big plate-spinning adventure. Which is why the prospect of having a design office here in Scotland and a HQ down south is so appealing to me, going forward.
As such we will be relocating the logistics and day-to-day business side to the pretty, rural town of Sonning Common, where a new bespoke office is being built as we speak. It’ll become our new HQ - the place from where we send our watches out into the world and our customers can visit. It’ll also be the place where we hold events and, most compellingly, where we bring watchmakers in-house and start to develop our assembly line. It’s an incredibly exciting point in our trajectory.
On Our Toes
It’s easy to forget that, in the SME acronym we are still the “S” part - a small business enterprise. We hit way above our weight through a mixture of colossal effort and a big dose of common sense manifested through communication between all of us - we are a team and we very much work together to decide what’s happening. But we are small, it can’t be denied. Whilst that means we maybe don’t have the capital to make big bold moves, it does mean we are able to be nimble and appraise things regularly as to where the business needs to be.
It’s good to be on our toes. It allows us to make the best decisions for the business. If something isn’t working out as planned, we can adapt and adjust accordingly. Hindsight is a wonderful thing and over the course of these tumultuous 8 years we have, as is to be expected, made some decisions that now, many years later, we might have made differently. But we are here because of the decisions we’ve made, and so we march on. It is a fantastic time to be creating and producing forever products - the things that will outlast all this temporary strife and upset and remind us that, as long as we keep moving, keep winding up our mainsprings and keep an eye on the clock, that we will tick along just nicely.