By Tim Nadin
IWI is a business borne out of passion, romanticism and addiction.
I was addicted to watches from the very first Timex that my parents bought for me at the age of five. I remember pressing my nose up against jewellers’ windows stood on tiptoes looking at all the wonderful watches that filled their displays. IWI is run on sound beliefs of things must be absolutely right, or they don’t leave the idea or prototype stage.
I consider IWI very much a luxury English brand and it’s the English aspect that we promote very positively. We have some very unique design aspects to our current collection which will be carried on throughout our future ranges and we draw heavily on the traditions of English watch and clockmaking. I have the privilege of working with Ian Walsh, one of the best watchmakers in England today.
The heritage of British watchmaking runs deep in the veins of British artisans and its re-emergence is almost a natural development. We have exceptional engineers and designers here in the UK. I don’t want to win back the market that Swatch sits in, nor do I want to win back a share of the market of ordinary watches. Do I envisage IWI continuing to take discerning clients away from purchasing a Swiss watch and buying an IWI watch? Absolutely I do.
All of our watches proudly carry a Made in England stamp on the case and our rotors are emblazoned with the red, white and blue of the Union Jack visible through a glass window in the back of some of the cases and a secret between IWI and the owners in other watches. Our Britain Collection is clear acknowledgement of our contemporary heritage. We’re extremely proud to be an English watchmaker and our watches are extremely proud as well.
A product standard is a vital component to establishing the quality values of English watch manufacture and we are in the process of developing our own standard which competes with the Swiss quality and testing standards.
Product content standards are also extremely important. Having a British company and British brand but making every part of your watches in Switzerland is simply unacceptable and pure marketing hype. In order to carry a Made in England stamp on the case of any watch should, in future, be based on achieving quality and testing standards and a minimum British-made manufacture percentage.
It is our intention to lead the industry here in the UK in this area and we are looking forward to discussing this with our peers. The government should back a quality and product content standard to ensure ‘Made in England’ means Made in England. Educational programmes for horology should also be offered as part of Engineering and design degrees to encourage the watch and clock designers of the future. That said the Government has to address the issues of funding to businesses full stop, before it can champion certain niche sectors.
Here at IWI we have an apprentice and we also work with British manufacturers including specialist engineering companies who produce unique components for our watches. We are also looking at a schools programme for 2013 which would allow us to visit schools and talk to young students about horology in an attempt to encourage young people into a career in horology.
Currently we are on a very calculated path and pretty much staying to our plans. In the next decade we have programmed in a further push in to new markets. We currently have only dipped our toes into the water with Asia and the USA and these are markets that have an ever increasing importance to us. So in essence we want to broaden our reach and stay true to our values of making something that we are proud of and continue to increase our year-on-year sales.
This column was taken from the September 2012 issue of WatchPro magazine. If you work in the watch industry and would like to write a guest column for WatchPro email the editor at firstname.lastname@example.org.