I know I emailed a few weeks ago saying that this batch system was an imperfect but necessary evil for us right now. But yesterday, we put 48 fumés on sale (which is a very good month of production), and 600 of you scrambled to buy them - compared to the 200 who tried to purchase our opaque Model 1 last month.
This increased demand is probably because of several factors; first, The GPHG awards shortlisted our Payne's Grey Fumé. Then, Teddy Baldassare posted a review of our Plum Fumé, which amassed over 44,000 views. Finally, we appeared in an Ape to Gentleman article published on the batch release day that showcased our Green Fumé.
All of these events occurred after we switched to batch production. We sincerely appreciate the support from each one, but it's safe to say the heightened attention drew an unprecedented level of demand for our watches on release day.
No matter how well the new production model works for us internally, infuriating 11 out of 12 customers every month isn’t the path we want to take.
As I've mentioned before, our challenge is that our watches are handmade, and the demand for them is higher than what we can produce. I don’t think anyone else in the world could make these dials today, and training new enamellers takes the best part of a year.
Our original idea was to rotate production batches. For example, we might do fumés this month, then again in February, so that if you couldn’t get one now, you’d get one next time. But with the numbers involved yesterday, it's clear that this system isn't going to work.
The solution, I believe, is to re-open the order books, with a lead time that increases with order volume and a partial payment scheme. We need around a week to iron out the details, but, once finalised, we’ll send an email to you all informing you of the changes. This way, everyone will have the chance to buy one of our watches, and we'll have time to make them without being overwhelmed and unable to work on new ideas.
We’ll need to see what the takeup is like - it may impact our ability to launch new watches as soon as we’d like, but apart from that, I feel rather silly not having thought of this before (and actually, it was Erlend who thought of it this time).
For now, though, there is a change I'd like to share with you, as it will affect any new Model 1s made.
Over the past year, we’ve been in discussion with La Joux-Perret, a highly experienced Swiss manufacturer based in La Chaux-de-Fonds, about working with them to supply us with movements, and the next lot of Model 1s will use their new G100 movement.
I like the people at LJP. They’re better suited for a company of our size than Sellita (and ETA supply has dried up for new movements). Additionally, the giant Japanese company Citizen owns them, meaning they shouldn’t be going anywhere, and parts will be readily available for years to come.
The G100 is a little more expensive than the ETA 2824, but it’s a very well made piece, with twice the power reserve. This change will be reflected in our prices, although we’re hoping to offer a hand-wound version too (with the Sellita SW210), which should be slightly less expensive than the current model with the ETA movement.
As always, we appreciate the support from all of you. The past two releases have shown us just how much there is, and the last thing we want to do is to jeopardise that by upsetting you.
On that note, though, I would like to say one last thing. We understand how frustrating the past two releases must have been for many of you. While we always welcome feedback, please remember that you are dealing with two very real, very hard-working human beings when you get in touch. Erlend (who has been working at home whilst ill with covid this week) and Nini are the ones who receive your emails and phone calls and do so with genuine care and respect, so please remember to treat them in the same manner.