So what happens when 3 watch enthusiasts (an Art Director, a Jewellery Shop Owner and a Structural Engineer) decide that they want to change the world by disrupting the Diver Watch market?
…To be honest, not much to start with. It was easy to articulate what we didn’t like; ‘Too many Sub homages/evolutions’, ‘watches that have been specified from a parts drawer in the Far East’, or even worse, ‘white label Alibaba knock-offs’, of which there are plenty. We also felt pretty strongly about the lack of quality in the £400 – £1500 ‘bracket’. – With the exception of occasional offerings from Squale, Oris and more recently, Christopher Ward, it’s obvious that hype and badge-value, make up a lot of your average RRP.
With that aside, our biggest problem was the fact that we would be new players; ‘tiny fish’ in a multi billion dollar industry… You watch your favourite Youtube Vlogger reviewing a timepiece and it’s not long before they mention the word ‘heritage’, and even though it’s a false economy, it seems (in my opinion anyway) to play a large part in people’s purchasing decisions, especially when it comes to watches.
So, call it our ‘Eureka moment’; on realising that our company would have no provenance, I casually suggested that, that didn’t mean our products wouldn’t have any. It took a few minutes for the idea to take shape, but I guess what I was eluding to, was a recycling project… Watches made of something old, historical if possible and maybe even iconic.
After we slept on it, the meeting room was ‘buzzing’ with ideas, we could build watches from bridges, buildings, cars, tanks… Whatever. But with a shared passion for Dive Watches, it took all of 5 minutes for us to fully commit to the project and sit down at the drawing board.
We knew we wanted to make an aquatic combat watch, but where would we find an aquatic combat vessel that was surplus to requirements? NOT EASY… We thought, as we are based at the home of the Royal navy, we were in the best possible staring position, but the ecosystem of Warship breaking is, pardon the pun, a bit of a minefield.
In recent years, the MOD has begun outsourcing decommissioned ships to Turkey, due to the huge bureaucracy involved in ‘hazardous material management’, which essentially makes it too expensive for British Companies to tender for the ‘scrap projects’.
At this point (again, pardon the pun), we thought our idea was dead in the water. It just wasn’t viable to import ‘exported’ metal back into the country, we’d need to find some that was already ashore.
For the observant amongst you, you might remember that our early concept art featured the title ‘HMS Valiant’, but unfortunately, due to what I’ve just explained, this would never happen.
Then a breakthrough, a phone call out of the blue! The ‘HMS Cornwall’ would be possible, and now it’s happening… Nearly 3 tonnes of High Tensile steel await reappropriation, to a timeless Diver that looks like nothing else.