The Alliance of British Watch and Clock Makers has been established to develop the nation’s exciting resurgence in horology.London, 30 October, 2020
After several years’ observing a “quiet renaissance” in British watch and clock making, Roger is delighted to announce his co-founding of a trade body, which he hopes will help to guide and develop horology as a recognised trade sector of the economy.
“It’s an exciting time because we have this real opportunity to forge our own vision of how watchmaking should be in Britain today in the 21st Century. If we can all start sharing our experiences, learning from each other, working out ways we can help each other, there’s no limit to what we can achieve” says Roger.
The foundation of a trade body has been a long held ambition of Roger’s, but this was galvanised by a chance meeting Mike France of Christopher Ward in November 2018 at what would become the final Salon QP show.
Roger continues; “I’d always checked in with Mike at the various shows we attended but, as our conversation expanded into our hopes for the British watch and clock sector it became apparent that our views were very much aligned. We’d both observed a resurgence with new watch companies setting up across Britain and felt the time was right to establish a trade body to help promote and develop our sector.”
What came as a genuine surprise was just how many watch and clock making businesses are now trading in the British Isles.
“I asked one of my long-term strategists, Alistair Audsley, to look into the current position of the sector and the potential for us to establish such a trade body. To our amazement, he discovered more than fifty watch and clock makers already trading in Britain. That really confirmed what our instincts were telling us and so we embarked on what is now the Alliance of British Watch and Clock Makers.”
The initial founders are Roger (Chairman), Mike France and Alistair who, like Roger, is a fellow GREAT Britain campaign ambassador and has worked closely with the UK Government during the development of the Alliance’s strategy.
“Our aims are very clear” says Roger; “Above all we want to promote British watch and clock making around the world and let people know that, while our sector is still small, we’re truly back in contention! I have my own passion for helping Britain return to making more of our watches and clocks within our shores. We’re right at the start of that journey of course; but that’s what makes it so exciting. Ultimately it’s about bringing new talent, from all backgrounds, into horology and providing opportunities not just for watch and clock makers, but skilled people within a growing supply chain.”
“So far, it’s been about putting together a ‘brains trust’ and sharing ideas” says Roger. “What Mike France has brought is the insight and experience from a stellar career in British retail, before making Christopher Ward a modern success story. However, we felt it vital to share the idea with other friends in our sector and were delighted to find that the idea chimed so readily with other brands and, vitally, our other UK bodies, such as the BHI, Worshipful Company of Clockmakers and the Guild. Their response has been fantastic and underpins the shared enthusiasm we all have to return Britain to its horological heyday.”
The other Founding Members of the Alliance are watchmakers Fears, Mr Jones, and Robert Bray/Sinclair Harding, the renowned clockmaker. “What really helped in our early strategy sessions was getting the perspectives of other companies who clearly shared our enthusiasm but are also completely different in their outlook as well” explains Roger. “That’s been of enormous value and I’m very grateful for their support during these formative times.”
There are two types of membership for ‘the Alliance’ - Trade and Club.
“Ultimately, our sector is about Makers and Collectors, so we want our membership opportunities to reflect that. To make this a success we need as many Trade members as possible to work collaboratively to make this a success. As such, Trade membership is free of charge for any watch or clock making business that’s owned and managed in the British Isles” says Roger.
“For collectors, membership of our Club is £55 per year and, while that includes our special pin badge and priority access to some great events during 2021, it’s really a chance to show support for British watch and clockmaking. As a not-for-profit body, all our funds will go back into creating more activities to support our aims and add value, so we are also very grateful for donations.”
One of the first major initiatives undertaken by the Alliance is the commissioning of a Bellwether Report from global advisory firm, KPMG.
“Before you know where you are heading, you need to know where you are.” says Roger. “Anecdotal evidence suggests Britain’s sector is growing rapidly, but this is the first ever proper survey to find out exactly what the current state of our sector is. The research is confidential and we encourage any watch or clock maker to participate in the survey, which will be published by February 2021.”
Details about joining the Alliance and can be found at www.britishwatchmakers.com, and you can also follow the Alliance on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, as well as a Youtube channel.
Setting up a trade body is a hugely different challenge to being a watch maker, as Roger has found, but also has similarities; “Well, it’s certainly complex, you’ve got an awful lot of moving parts and it takes enormous effort - but ultimately you create something that communicates time; And maybe, just maybe, this is Britain’s time!”