Home Interviews INTERVIEW: Ted Brown of Berkbinder & Brown (Part 2)

INTERVIEW: Ted Brown of Berkbinder & Brown (Part 2)

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For those of you just joining in, we had a chance to sit down with Ted Brown of  Berkbinder & Brown to talk about his Tool Watch.  Yesterday, we covered the beginning of the Tool Watch, Mr. Brown’s “watch cred”, and choice of movement.  In today’s installment, we’ll dig into the case design a bit more.

Stainless steel is a common material for watch cases, though we are starting to see more bronze options in the market.  How/why did you settle on bronze as a material?

Probably the biggest reason is that it’s different.  Generally, if you want a yellow color, you’ll get gold – but at the price point the Tool Watch is at, you end up with gold plating.  So, with bronze you have a more affordable yellow-colored material that develops a patina, and it fits the idea of the brand being “rugged, functional beauty”.  It also gives the watch case more of a heritage feel, and helped the watch to be different enough for it to stand out and grab some attention

Speaking of the patina – how long does it take to develop the patina?

That’s a really interesting question.  I base the answer on my experiences wearing it – and it took quite a while.  On my watch, I’ve got these buffing rags that I use.  It allows the patina to develop, but it still gives it a nice luster. Of course, other people have different skin chemistry, and can cause the patina to develop more quickly. (Author note:  on the review sample we were loaned, I saw a patina developing in the first week – but that could just be me) (and yes, there will be a full review!)

I tried several different alloys, as I don’t want to turn someone’s hand green.  I also had to consider things like how fast will the patina develop, and how dark will that patina be.  Finally, I arrived at the 954 alloy.  There is another alloy, the 510 – it looks beautiful (more coppery), I just haven’t had a chance to wear it yet.  With that one, it has such a high copper content, though, I’m afraid it will turn your hand green.

While we’re discussing the case, there are not many watches on the market that have a lugless design.  How did you arrive at that choice?

Part of it was the fact that I’m making it myself.  I also thought about what sort of machines were used at the turn of the century.  Answer:  It was mostly lathes, not mills.  So, thinking about the tools that were available, what resources I had, and what looked  eye-catching, we had that design element.

Also, if you had lugs on a 46mm case, it would make for a watch that would wear quite large, whereas this one wears smaller, but allows for things like the larger, easy-to-read dial.

Do you plan to offer a smaller sized watch, something more adapted to a woman’s wrist?  Any other ideas?

I am toying with some ideas.  Perhaps not specifically a woman’s watch, but something that’s maybe 38, 39mm in diameter, and a few millimeters thinner.  This is primarily due to the fact that there’s a segment of people that really like the watch, but just feel it’s too large to fit under a shirt cuff. Interestingly, though, I’ve got three daughters (two sons as well) – and all three of them have been bugging me for watches.  They wear theirs on stingray straps, and they pull it off well.

I’ve also had feedback that there’s demand for a chronograph.  But if you look at something like a Valjoux 7750, that movement is something like $800.  So, that will be another part of my Basel trip, to see what chronograph movement options there are at a reasonable pricepoint.

We just touched base on the straps, and I saw on your website that you have quite a few options.  Are those something you’re making yourself?

No.  Originally, I had a padded calfskin strap in mind, but I’m always looking for new straps.  So I found some straps made by Rhein Fils in Switzerland.  They’re nice, heavy straps, and have outstanding workmanship.  For the Kickstarter order, they could opt for the padded calfskin (in black or brown), or they can go with one of the Rhein Fils straps.  On mine, I actually have a deployant clasp, which is an available option.  (Note:  all the available strap options can be seen here.)

And that will wrap things up for today’s installment.  Tomorrow, we’ll cover some “miscellaneous” items in our interview with Mr. Brown.


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