Having launched The Meridian Watch Company only last year, I am often asked what inspired me to take the bold step of starting my own watch company.
As others who are accused of having overnight success will understand, the behind-the-scenes creation of Meridian has been over a decade in consideration and at least five years of hands-on trial and error at our Norwich workshops.
As a second generation watchmaker and having repaired watches and clocks around the country for clients over many years, this gave me the inspiration and knowledge to produce our own timepiece.
What I’ve discovered is that when it comes to innovative design, inspiration normally lies close to home. In order to stand out you have to be able to create something that looks different, yet is also very user friendly and extremely stylish – a combination that takes a great deal of hard work. It is not a simple thing to do at all, whatever your watchmaking technical ability.
Luckily, I am passionate about travel, by which, I mean authentic, on-road travel with obstacles and set-backs to be overcome. I have trekked to the North Pole twice and driven my Land Rover from Norwich to Kenya via West Africa and the Zaire. I am also a keen climber, which proved useful while abseiling down a church spire or climbing into a murky bell tower to mend or remove a clock that needs attention!
In terms of design, then, the inspiration for our very first watch, the Meridian Prime, came from a desire to build the toughest, water-resistant, yet easiest to read watch that I could, and it had to look good at the same time! Taking a proven design and enhancing it meant that the movement had to be the best I could possibly re-engineer. The challenge was clear – creating a watch for extreme conditions, which would be distinctive and original. It was five years before we were ready to present this to clients.
At Meridian we use the Unitas ebauche. This is then completely re-engineered in-house; the escapement is similarly hand finished and adjusted by our watchmakers, to improve timekeeping. The production-finished movement is assembled and test run for a week, then stripped, cleaned and finally, rebuilt, before being passed as fit for the client.
Original inspiration, combined with expertise and an awful lot of hard work, allowed me to create Meridian. Throw in a dash of perfectionism and a refusal to give up, as well as an English watch industry that is experiencing a very exciting renaissance, which keeps us all pushing our capabilities.
This column first appeared in the October issue of WatchPro. To see the full digital version of the magazine, click here.