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How We Met Our Manufacturer

Dear Friends,

Welcome to what we hope will be the first in a long line of monthly blogs giving you behind the scenes scoops on what we're up to.


We hope you've read the about us section, however there is a gap in the story which we intended to share but couldn't find the right medium till now: This is how we found our manufacturer.


Rewind to September 2019


Having missed EPHJ we scheduled the Hong Kong Watch and Clock Fair, meeting with nearly 2 dozen manufacturers of varying capacity and competency and (with a single exception [shout out to Calvert at KENTEX]) came across the same phrase every time:


We can build anything, you name it we can make it...”


...Ugh.


Coming from a manufacturing background where suppliers promise 'the world is your oyster' and regularly return with a grain of sand, our (sardonic) counter was simple:


...Alright: Build me a space station”


THEM:


Its a fools errand to spend excess of 12 hours on a plane to come back with empty promises and a cricked neck. As the project matured over the 9 days a couple of things became apparent:

  • Firstly, manufacturers were wary of startups as they'd been burned by near impossible deadlines and budgets so tight they destroyed their margins.

  • Secondly, as a consequence launching would require the ability to command premiums that could only be achieved by either making the product in Japan or Switzerland.

Given we weren't moving halfway around the world any time soon, we chose the second option and were put into contact with a Swiss manufacturer (through a fellow Hong Kong based one). January 2020 was the date given to meet as it was a quiet period.


Wanting to maximize the our options we contacted other Swiss based private label manufacturers. Our appointments were set with Walca, Montrelux, Sordi Swiss SA and (SPOILER ALERT) our future partner La Division Du Temps better known as the private label arm of Schwarz Etienne.



Why La Division du Temps/ Schwarz Etienne?

In short, they had the perfect blend of spare capacity, engineering chops and location: The facilities are in the heart of La Chaux de Fonds, otherwise known as the watchmakers valley and are stones throw away from our movement supplier Sellita.


The ability to customize movements in addition to making their own (absolutely cracking) caliber xSE, future-proofs our movement selection if modules become the norm when supply fluctuates.

Schwarz Etienne's own in-house calibers



Although there have been changes post pandemic in worldwide demand for watches, the team at Schwarz Etienne were by far and away the most accommodating to the numerous edits that had taken place between Hong Kong and January of 2020: In stark contrast, another unnamed manufacturer (that makes a similarly unconventional watch) went as far to say if we're too much hassle they'll simply refuse to work with us and drop the project.


Part of the selection process also hinged on the ability to showcase our partners and how they add value to our releases, we believe firmly that there should be a face to 'Swiss Made'.


We hope you enjoyed this brief look at our journey, till next time.


Bally.

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