The UK watch industry is embracing the unknown


Launching a new brand can be tough, and in a recession near impossible; believe me, I’ve been through it a couple of times in recent years.

But, as we’ve proved here at ITP Promedia, it can be done. WatchPro and sister title Professional Jeweller are both babies of the recession and have grown up in a relatively short space of time to be leaders in their fields (and we’re still growing as our visitor numbers to show, which has registered a 107% increase in unique visitors in its third month).

I would hate to make this sound easy, because it really is not. It takes a lot of hard work and dedication from the team behind the new launches, but when that first sniff of success wafts through you know all those cancelled weekend plans were worth it.

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In a climate that is more characterised by closing down sales and empty shop units it can be hard to inspire such enthusiasm about stepping into the unknown, and harder still to attract financial backing. However, it seems that the UK watch industry is pushing through and embracing the new – from distributors such as Nuval and Since 1853 taking on unproven brands to new independent watch houses like Schofield and OceanArc springing up from nowhere.

This month I took a call from Pierre Bernheim, grandson of Raymond Weil, to talk about a new brand the Raymond Weil company is launching called 88 Rue du Rhone. It is a solid collection of classically styled Swiss-made watches that are very competitively priced.

The conception might be that it would be easy for such a large watchmaking company to launch a new brand but Pierre assures me that even for them it has been tough and has put the strength of their relationships with their suppliers to the test. He went on to say that he can’t imagine how people without his company’s connections could even attempt to do it, but they are.

Tom Kennett, founder of Kennett Watches is a great example. Based in Scotland – territory not exactly revered for its watchmaking expertise – Tom has been toiling away to build up his own little empire and has succeeded in setting up a strong brand that is starting to pick up pace. This is surely a feat to be respected when the big Swiss houses are finding it tough.

One of my greatest bugbears in life is motivational slogans (particularly those on fridge magnets) but I’ll admit one of my favourite phrases is that nothing is impossible. If you really want it, you just have to work for it.


This article was taken from the June 2012 issue of WatchPro magazine, out now. To view a digital version of the magazine click here.



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