The past few months have been busy. The biggest recent news is that I have moved house and have now started to reduce my hours at work with the intention to start working on my own watch brand in the extra time I have; with current plans to work full-time as self-employed watchmaker in the New Year. My new home will have its own workshop that I can use for this purpose.
I can’t talk about exactly what I am doing until I am in a position to launch the range, but suffice to say that an incredibly exciting and unique opportunity has presented itself, which will allow me to present watches available to the public that will be one-of-a-kind, of immense historic value, and of course branded as the Great British Watch Company.
Prototypes have already been prepared. More news will follow.
Whenever I set myself a long-term goal I always find it useful to visualise the end result.
So when I set out on my goal of becoming a watchmaker in 2011 I made myself a simple business card that was going to be my future self. I don’t have the card any longer but I can remember what I wrote on it;
Colin Andrews FBHI
The significant part of this is that I’d set myself the goal of being a watchmaker and that I would have the post-title FBHI, Fellow of the British Horological Institute, this is the highest title the BHI offer.
Originally the BHI had offered a fellowship for passing their examination course, however this changed on the year that I passed, and the offer of a fellowship was withdrawn. I will admit that this was very frustrating at the time, as it was a goal I had set my mind to 4 years previously.
However since Robert Loomes has taken over as the president of the BHI, he has made a drive to re-introduce the offer of fellowships and memberships to qualified applicants.
So I made my application along with supporting evidence, and received the confirmation that I had been made a fellow on my 40th birthday. I will collect my certificate in October at the BHI’s headquarters at Upton Hall in Newark, on their awards day.
I have now taken on an additional apprentice, bringing the total to 5 students that I am training to become watchmakers. I am also going through and up-skilling another 12 or so staff to be at what we call the watch technician level, which is dealing with almost all repairs except mechanical servicing.
It’s very encouraging that in the day-and-age of mobile phones and that there are so many young people enthusiastic about picking up a real skill and wanting to spend years training
Here is a link to a great story about my training plan in our local paper: https://www.lep.co.uk/education/preston-watchmaker-fights-the-corner-for-apprentices-1-10004011
We will also be in next edition of the British Watch and Clock Makers’ Guild newsletter – Timepiece.
My apprentices are one of the reasons that I am slowly reducing my working days rather than leaving now and going full-time into my own business – in that I want to make sure that everything is set-up for them to continue their studies after I leave.
And finally, in the background I am working on using a 3D printer to make a working tourbillon escapement. I was given the printer as a surprise for my birthday by my wife and have been very slowly printing out all the required parts. The house move has stalled progress slightly but I am about 60 out of 80 parts completed.
I have long thought that 3D printing will become a major part of watchmaking in the future, and in the future will likely make the current CNC machines obsolete for everything except high-speed mass manufacture.
It is incredible to see that the resins can be both rigid and flexible – forming both the balance wheel and the balance spring. The accuracy of printers for the home now is where industrial machines were 10 years ago, and some home-use models now can print in different types of metal as well as plastics.
I would say that in another 10 years time, so 2030, end-users will be able to print an entire watch of their design at home.
So to stay ahead of the curve watch companies will have become more imaginative and offer something that no-one else can reproduce.