Date added: 02/09/2016 Following the Elliot Brown Story: From Animal to Elliot Brown Watches
From Animal to Elliot Brown Watches
1. How did you go from Animal to Elliot Brown watches?
Ian sold Animal in ‘99, whilst I stayed on there for another 14 years, but we always kept in touch and kept coming back to that ‘what-if’ question: what if we took that unique experience and started afresh with no constraints, and that question ultimately proved to be the trigger for starting Elliot Brown.
2. What was the inspiration for starting Elliot Brown?
Finding the answer to the question of what we could do if we started with a blank sheet and set out to make watches that we looked forward to wearing, that were smart enough to wear all week but so well made that they could shrug off the weekend’s extreme hobbies. We’re delighted with the answer so far, and we’ll never stop learning and refining what we make.
3. Who are your target market? or does it vary by watch?
It varies, depending on where people find us and what they’re looking for. Watch collectors appreciate the technical side of what we do whereas others discover the brand through our extensive event and athlete support program where we’re involved in a sport or activity. It’s more about a watch fitting in with someone’s lifestyle. Some people appreciate our taste in design and attention to detail; some really ‘get’ the idea of having one watch that can do everything; some are avid collectors, some have old Animal watches and are delighted to find we’re making ‘proper’ watches again.
''We naturally appeal to a broad range of people but the common denominator is quality – whatever people are looking for when they find us, it’s always about quality; quality of design, quality of construction, quality of aftersales.''
40,000 nautical miles on board a Clipper Race yacht from EBwatches on Vimeo.
4. You recently mounted a watch to a Clipper Round the World Race Yacht and it survived the extreme 41,000nm round the world voyage. What inspired the Clipper Race watch test?
Curiosity. We wanted to prove to ourselves that our watches were as durable as our extensive lab testing suggests but in a real world environment as harsh as any we could think of. Could one of our standard watches survive such an ordeal and if it did wouldn’t that be a story! We’re not aware of another test that even comes close in terms of physical endurance for a watch.
A few facts about the voyage: 11 months at sea, 41,000 nautical miles, highest wind speed 86mph, fastest boat speed 30.7 knots, temperature range +36 to -2, highest wave 90 feet, 5 oceans, 6 continents. More people have climbed Everest than have circumnavigated the globe.
5. How did it endure its time mounted to the mast of a Clipper Race yacht?
Incredibly well. Despite being left to the mercy of the elements night and day for 11 months (plus a month on the boat prior to race start), it was still working perfectly when it returned, with only some minor discolouration from a reaction with the mounting plate and aluminium mast to show for its punishment. We even mounted it using our standard stainless strap pins rather than adding any kind of protection.
6. How long does it take from the design stages for your watches to hit the website or stores?
For a new watch, it depends on the type of manufacturing challenges we face along the way. We use almost no off-the-shelf components and are always looking to innovate where we can, so we have to design, re-design, and revise throughout the process, but typically it’s around 14-18 months. The Clipper Race watch was conceived, designed and made in time for skippers to wear them round the world in just one month. Having this kind of agility is rare in the watch industry but the late nights involved mean we won’t be clamouring to repeat that exercise in a hurry!
For existing models, we are always looking to improve what we make, so if there’s an opportunity to improve something, we’ll do it as soon as we can.
7. ‘Not revolution, just evolution’ is part of your philosophy, how do you feel watches have evolved in the last ten years?
The financial crisis has changed people’s behaviour significantly. Increasingly people are actively looking for quality and longevity, rather than snapping up shiny trinkets that don’t last. They do their research and buy something designed to last, rather than buying something for the short term.
The growth of smaller businesses and the growing interest in ‘artisan’ products is also creating opportunities for smaller brands with great heritage that appeal to customers actively looking for non-mainstream brands. I think a lot of people are frustrated with the impersonal service they get from big businesses, and are looking for a more personal experience such as the customising we’re able to bring to our customers.
8. Is there a particular place or item that you draw inspiration for the watches?
It’s our coastal lifestyle. We don’t focus-group or conduct market research for new watches; instead we trust our own instinct. Every watch we design is driven by our taste but is always inspired by where we live, work and play and how it needs to perform. There’s a huge community of designers and creatives in Dorset; there are beautiful areas of countryside to walk, ride, and explore, and the sea to surf, sail, and play on, so our watches need to pass muster with the designers and creatives as well as the outdoor and sports enthusiasts.
9. What’s next for Elliot Brown Watches?
Following the success of the Bloxworth and Canford is no easy task. Rather like a musician with a second album but we’re quietly confident that the Tyneham automatic arriving this winter might just reach number one in the Elliot Brown hit parade. It’s a beautifully wearable expression of everything we’ve learnt, full of subtle innovations that might not be immediately obvious but as they become apparent, they create a sense of reassurance in wearing a watch of such competence.
We also have some very exciting commissions underway that should add a few more feathers to the Elliot Brown cap and we have several new collections already in prototyping for next year.
We can't wait to continue following the Elliot Brown journey here at John Pass, and we hope you will join us. We stock a huge range of Elliot Brown timepieces, that can be purchased directly from our website. The iconic Bloxworth & Canford styles come in a range of colours and metals.
The Team at John Pass