We had a chance to sit down with Ted Brown of Â Berkbinder & BrownÂ to talk about his Tool Watch. Â So far, we covered the beginning of the Tool Watch, Mr. Brown’s “watch cred”, choice of movement, and the case design. Â In today’s installment, cover a few more areas, and start to wrap things up.
Going back to the Kickstarter process, and some of the posts that you had written â€“ it seemed like you had quite a learning curve with the assembly process.Â Has that gotten easier for you now?
The process has gotten easier for me.Â Not being a watch maker, all those fine motor movements (putting the case tube in, the crown, setting the case clamps, etc) â€“ it’s something that you just have to develop a proficiency for.
In terms of time, I really didnâ€™t contemplate having to do that much polishing and hand finishing. Â There are more handling marks, etc, on the cases now that itâ€™s in more of a production mode. Â Originally there weren’t going to be any graphics on the back of the case, but somebody brought that up.Â I explored that, and found a supplier to do the laser engraving, so that’s another process that has to be cleaned after as well. Â All told, it’s a little over three hours per watch, right now, to assemble.
So, youâ€™re the only person doing the assembly now?
Correct.Â I did have someone helping me out, but it wasnâ€™t just to my expectations.Â I found it easier, and had more control, doing it myself. Eventually, I will hire someone to help assemble the watches.
Have you gotten traction simply by being an American brand?
I have.Â Sure, the movement is Swiss, as are things like the crown tube.Â But the dials are made here, as are the cases.Â And of course the assembly is done here. Â Compared to the turn of the century, when there were 197 American watch manufacturers, there are very few today.
While researching your watch, I came across a thread on the WatchUSeek forums, looking for feedback early on in your process.Â Did that inform any of your decisions?
Actually, no.Â Itâ€™s really interesting.Â Kickstarter had launched, and I was soliciting feedback on WUS. Â Of course, watch people have strong opinions.Â They like what they like, and they donâ€™t like what they donâ€™t like – but you donâ€™t need everybody to like your watch.
Everyone was very polite with the feedback.Â There wasnâ€™t a huge amount of feedback, but those who liked it really liked it.Â And frankly, you donâ€™t need to sell a watch to all of those people. Â In the end, Iâ€™m not looking to sell 10,000 watches; Â 250-500 watches per year is my goal.
Where are you at in attaining that annual goal?
Between the watches sold via Kickstarter, and since then, Iâ€™m at about 125 watches.
So, while going through this process, is there anything that you wished you had done differently?
Anticipating the supply needs. Â I really didnâ€™t grasp that Iâ€™d sell this many watches â€“ so it was really an exercise in gearing up. Â You know, thinking you might sell 10-20 watches, and selling over 80 right off the start was quite a shift. Â One thing I did do, I started ordering parts back in September, prior to the Kickstarter project closed. Some of that was due simply to lead time: Â for example, crystal orders take six weeks to process
I suppose getting more orders than you expected isnâ€™t exactly the worst problem to have
No, no, thatâ€™s a high-class problem â€“ not a complaint by any means!
Have your orders coming, are they just within the U.S., or are they international?
Iâ€™d say about 15-20% of the KickStarter orders came from overseas.Â Australia really seemed to like the watch.Â Ireland, France, Italy â€“ Europeans really like watches. Â A couple of them mentioned that theyâ€™re watch collectors, and they really wanted to add an American watch to the mix.
And that will wrap things up for today’s installment. Â Tomorrow, we’ll conclude our interview with Mr. Brown.