Over the past 6 – 8 months, it’s fair to say that we’ve had many, MANY enquiries… From simple ‘polite interest’, to the ‘plain bizarre’. One thing we did notice though, was an emerging pattern in the ‘annals of curiosity’, so I’m going to take this opportunity to address the most ‘asked’ questions since we started out.
1/ How have you managed to get hold of metal stocks from a source that’s 9 years old?
As a few of you may know, most military decommissioning is now outsourced off-shore. In the case of the Cornwall, she was initially sold to Swansea Dry Docks, but the surge in costs relating to recycling safety-regulations, meant that the only viable route for her final decommission was via Turkish Company, Leyal; her final resting place.
…However, the fact that she wasn’t tugged immediately, and that she DID spend some time in the UK, meant that some ‘sentimental collateral’ was retained before her last departure. Many of these pieces were ‘archived’ in various maritime collections (most, in honesty, never seeing the light of day), and it’s due to this unique set of circumstances, that we were able to secure the HY-80 steel, that the watches will be made from.
2/ Why The Cornwall?
In short, that was more about luck than judgment. The sentiment behind all of our watches (both ‘present’ and ‘future’), is to build the cases (as a minimum requirement. – The whole watch if possible) from materials of historical significance; Combat watches that have seen combat, racing chrono’s that have raced, flight watches that have flown… You get the picture. With this particular piece, we just wanted to make an Aquatic Combat Watch out of a submarine or a destroyer, anything we could get our hands on really… As it turns out, it’s not legal to recycle submarine stock, as most of them are still ‘glowing’ from their respective reactors, and The HMS Cornwall artifacts that we found were our first viable source of ‘workable’ metal, so we settled on it immediately.
3/ What’s with the name? Don’t you guys make steering wheels?
We get this one a lot! It’s nothing more than the Family name on our CEO’s Mother’s side, it does indeed have Italian roots, but I can say quite categorically, that we are not associated in any way with the famous Italian steering wheel company; Our official company name is ‘Nardi Timepieces Limited’ and our Trademark is ‘Nardi Portsmouth’.
4/ Is it really made in England?
It appears that there’s a few untrusting souls out there, so let me answer this one formally.
The case, case back, movement holder and crown have all been designed in England (by us), and they will be machined, finished and assembled here too.
Some parts do come from overseas; the movements are Swiss, the leather strap and buckle is Italian (careful). And whilst the gaskets and glass are 3rd party products (UK sourced), all of the elements that require injection moulding (indices, hands and the dial) are being outsourced to a specialist company in the Far East. This is the only way we can achieve our target launch-price due to high on-shore tooling costs, but rest assured, we know the factory well and they supply global-brands who sell their pieces for multiple-thousands of dollars (naming them will cause us problems, sorry)… Needless to say, we didn’t choose them lightly.
5/ What options and variants are available.
In fairness, not many. We will be dedicating our resources to creating, what we believe is the perfect watch. We really wanted to avoid a ‘pick ‘n mix’ approach, with multiple bezel inserts to choose from, multiple strap options and multiple dial colours.
Every aspect of the HMS-C20 is bespoke, it’s been built from scratch, and based on what it costs to simply machine a ceramic bezel insert, I suspect that crowd funded watches that DO offer ‘pick and mix’ may be just aggregating off-the-shelf components… That’s not sour grapes by the way, it’s simply not viable to achieve it using any other method.
If the initial campaign is successful however, we will be releasing our ‘Bund Supersport’ on an ‘assemble-to-order basis’, which does indeed offer several variations from the launch edition, and in time, if we can afford it, we will offer an accessories pack to support each model.
6/ What’s a realistic lead time if your campaign is successful?
Bearing in mind that we’re not commissioning a chinese factory to simply die cast, assemble and drop ship, and also considering that our manufacturing process involves 2 or 3 extra steps (based on ‘standard’ production of a Dive Watch), it won’t be as quick as you might be expecting… We’ve trialed a couple of prototypes with ‘the clock ticking’ and from briefing to quality control, took 7 weeks. We do expect to improve on this with ACTUAL funding and a proper production line, but as yet, we’re not sure by how much, we don’t want to get into over-promising. Getting the watches to the very highest standards possible will take precedence over ‘rushing them out of the door’, although we are extremely sensitive to the keenness shown by our community.
7/ What’s your return/warranty policy?
Pretty much the same as most crowd funding projects; A 14 day return period if you’re not satisfied and a case-by-case approach to addressing any customer issues.
For our first watch, a warranty is pretty much out of the question, but bearing in mind our reputation will be hanging on these first 100 pieces, they won’t leave this office until they’re absolutely right. When they DO leave, they will be insured.
8/ How much?
Ahhh the age old question. Let’s not beat about the bush: 499 Euros / 560 USD / 426 GBP
9/ That seems a lot for a Kickstarter Watch, why is it so expensive?I’ll answer this one with bullet points (so it doesn’t look like I’m objection handling)
- The bezel has more points than a Tudor Black Bay
- The case requires a 5 Axis CNC
- The movement holder is made from non-magnetic steel, not plastic… This is rarer than you think (even Heuer use plastic movement holders)
- Every component is bespoke (except the glass, gaskets and click balls/springs)
- We’re recycling our own metal to build the cases
- WE’RE RECYCLING OUR OWN METAL TO BUILD THE CASES
- We don’t qualify for a volume discount on the movements as we’re only building 100 pieces to start with
- Every case will be brushed and polished by a UK qualified Jeweller
- Every case (and the crown signature) will be accented with Gold Flash plating (expensive process)
- All movements will be regulated to four positions, in house
THIS IS NOT A CHEAP WATCH TO MAKE
10/ What’s your plans after Kickstarter?
The plan is to still be around in 10 years time, so the way we leverage any potential short term success will be vital.
Obviously the immediate priority will be to get the first 100 out, and once that’s done we’ll turn our attention to reinvesting into physical stock, so we can offer derivatives of the ‘launch edition’ on a retail basis (not quite as special, but made just as well)… At first, those pieces will only be available from us directly, but we’re already in touch with several potential (and highly reputable) International Distributors, so watch this space.
We’ll then be looking to get staff in (Assemblers), and get them trained up via the British Horological Institute, so we can ‘make to order’ – This will help us stay on top of cashflow, whilst maintaining a retail model.
Our end goal is to basically make ‘five grand watches’ that don’t cost much less than that to build. I feel it’s our duty to embarrass the global Brand Leaders who charge that sort of money for their pieces, when their per-piece build cost comes in at less than $300, which, believe it or not, is a real thing.