10 days in, to REAL production

First off, I appreciate that this update has been a long time coming and there are a few of you out there who are chomping at the bit. In short, we’re playing catch up. – The thing that’s hit us hardest after coming out of lockdown, is supplier backlog… Most of them have come out of lockdown at the same time as us and they’re all working as hard as they can to get their own businesses back up to speed, and a common characteristic of this process seems to be the re-prioritisation of workflow; ‘big jobs out the door first, THEN we’ll look at the little guys’… And yes, this means us.

So, we had a choice, to either suck it up and wait our turn, or change our supplier ‘landscape’ a little in order to cut lead times. As it turned out, both of those solutions have worked, depending on the supplier in question. Yes, we’re locked into contracts with a couple of them, but global pandemics tend to moot a lot of clauses, so we were generally free to look for better options.

So what I’ll do here is give you a run down on all CURRENT processes. I won’t won’t linger too much on areas that are still open-ended in nature, as there are still a few elements out of our control.

Metal Prep’

Our main smelting slot is now booked for the 19th July… The Eagle-Eyed amongst you will notice that this is a Sunday. We had to beg for that slot as they wanted to put us back somewhat further, but after a little charm and palm-greasing, they’ve agreed to light the furnaces on a ‘down day’.

We have had our test piece back, which has been processed and electro-polished, and we’re ‘umming and arring’ a little, over whether we should use an additive process to make it a little brighter. The steel finishes really well, but it does look more like tool steel than a piece of Jewellery. Early indications are that we WILL brighten the metal a little… More on this when we’re sure.

Case Cutting

This is where we’ll make up the shortfall. Our milling and turning workflow is planned to within an inch of it’s life… For the final approval CAD, we made a couple of changes (nothing you’ll notice – mainly the addition of small radius edges) that means we can now work on 3 AXIS, not 5 as originally planned. This means a better and more efficient cut. It’s also less expensive, which means there’ll be a small surplus of cash that can go into better finishing.

Once we have our metal stock on site, it’s literally a case of pushing a button, then we’re onto finishing and assembly, at which point things will start to happen quickly.

The Dial

It’s gorgeous. We’re waiting for our quarter markers to come back from the electroplating company. Not sure how long, but it should be soon, and when we have a completed face, we’ll give you the teasers you’ve been waiting for. Could be as early as Wednesday, but like everyone at the moment, commitments are a little vague.

The Hands

We have all of the components and we’re working on the technique for the dyed lume (on the minute hand). Getting the compound to rest flat (considering it’s only a few microns thick) is the challenge. It looks like the solution lies within the ambient temperature when the ink is applied. We’re having fun with it to be fair.

Also worth mentioning, that they fit great onto the SW200-1 centre stalk and we’ve bashed it around a bit to be absolutely sure they don’t fall off. They don’t.

Bezel Insert

We’ve had a couple of iterations of this, and we’re close but not 100% happy yet. The precision of the numerical markers isn’t quite where we want it… We’ll get there. Additionally, the sandblasting looks incredible, way nicer than a shiny ceramic.

These will probably take as much time as ANY other component within the final assembly, as we will have to ink/lume/seal/cure each one by hand. There’s about 4 hours labour on each one, if perfection is to be achieved.

The Movemements

If there’s gonna be a sticking point, it’s these guys. They’re a huge hulk of a company and they’re not rushing on our behalf. When we consolidated our order (early March), they said two months, after the pandemic they said 4, yes, you read that right… After we threatened to buy their own movements from a Chinese supplier and import them at a cheaper rate, they’ve started to come around a little, but It looks from where we’re standing, that we’ll have to kick some ass in this area, but rest assured, we’re working very hard to get them to pick up their heels. We assumed (incorrectly) that they’d have stocked inventory (especially for their best selling movement), but no, every order is MADE, to order. We’d obviously prefer to deal with them directly too, as a 3rd party warranty via a Far Eastern distributor sounds like a potential shit-show if we ever need to call upon it. I hate to use the phrase ‘it is what it is’, but our power is limited here and if we bitch and moan too much, they might decide to make us suffer. A balancing act for sure, but we’re engaged.

Ancillaries

Nothing here to wait for aside from brass ball bearings, the main links for the metal bracelets, some branded buckles and the ‘recently added’ bezel retainers, we have everything else.

So, is there anything we’ve promised that we can’t deliver?

Not really. One way or another you’re getting everything you’ve paid for. Content is proving tricky as we’re not really making everything in the same chronological order that we planned from the outset, and now that smelting, preproduction and cutting are all so close together in the workflow (and determined by when we can get access to the sites ((for taking photo’s))), it looks like there’ll be a spate of content all at once, rather than the steady drip that we were hoping for. However, now things are settling into a rhythm, we will be doing some more Youtube stuff again in the coming days/weeks, which will include a luming vlog, a finishing demo by Dan-the-man and a trip to a marine merchant, where we have managed to track down the ACTUAL anchor of the Cornwall… Not sure if it will be of any use to us yet, as nobody is sure if it’s made out of the steel we’re using or it’s just pig iron, with this in mind, we’re taking a metallurgist with us, so it should be a pretty interesting video… And if it turns out to be workable HY-80, that could mean a larger scale of production for the watch that started it all.

Oh one last thing, just before I go… You may or may not know that we had an issue, sending out the mailers that confirmed special requests. We know that some of you got the original mail and some didn’t. We have now fired both Mailchimp AND Sendgrid. I’ve been meaning to write all concerned individually, but have been struggling to find the time. If you’re still waiting, your email will be with you before Monday.

That’s all for now, but if you have any questions about any of this, either post them up in the Backer’s Group or message me through Kickstarter, I have a pretty clear weekend, so should be able to take care of your needs at least until Sunday Evening.