In July, we changed our manufacturing process from made-to-order to batch production. Under this new system, we’re making our watches throughout the month in quantities manageable for our production team and selling them at regular intervals.
After our first batch sale on November 1, though, I wanted to post an update as I'm very aware our new approach upset a few of you.
I want to be completely transparent - this isn't a perfect system. The release was a 4-minute-frenzy that took us by surprise. The swift sell-out left many people disappointed and, because of this, I questioned if switching to batch production had been the right decision.
However, we needed to find a way to make watches that would prevent our team from burnout and allow us to spend more time on innovation, experimentation and development. Under the old system, we were scrambling to fulfil orders on time, and, as our order numbers grew, the workload was becoming unsustainable for our small production team.
We currently have four enamellers. Three have been here since the early days, and our apprentice Cara joined us in March 2021. After studying Jewellery and Glass, Cara has years of experience and is an invaluable asset to the team. She's nearing the end of her apprenticeship, which means she'll be able to make enamel dials unaided and help to increase our production capacity.
In December, a new apprentice will join us. Our methods are specialist, though, and training is rigorous. So, while teaching proceeds, the apprentice and master aren't able to produce many usable dials. The extra set of hands, however, will still help us increase our monthly output gradually.
This workflow will continue until autumn 2022, at which point our apprentice can work unassisted, and our production capacity will increase again. I'd foresee us growing steadily like this for the next four or five years, at least.
While the above explains our position in terms of production capacity, it doesn't include the time needed to develop new ideas and techniques. Innovation is integral to who we are and, as order numbers grew under the made-to-order model, we lost the ability to spend time on R&D.
Some people have asked why we aren’t simply increasing the waiting time for our watches. It’s because of the growth we’ve experienced over the past few years and the knowledge we’ve gained along the way.
Customer orders will always take priority - and rightly so - but we’re in the unique position where our production team is also our R&D team. If we lengthened waiting times, it would continue to delay R&D. Without time to try out new ideas, experiment with new enamels and make prototypes of new models, the business isn't sustainable.
Changing our production method has given us the ability to plan in blocks; it’s provided that crucial time for innovation and creating a manageable workload, and already, one month in, our team are feeling the benefits of our new system. We're now spending approximately half the month making watches and the other for training and development.
With this in mind, the Model 2 and 3 should launch alongside further Model 1 releases within the next six months. As our production capacity increases, we'll also approach the possibility of staggered releases to accommodate those of you in the furthest away time zones
In summary, I see this as a very effective way of allowing us to grow, but I don't want it to be something we're doing for any longer than it’s necessary.
I wholeheartedly understand the frustration and disappointment people are feeling. Many people contacted us - several of whom were existing customers - understandably angry or upset about missing out on a watch. It's likely we also disappointed more people who didn't get in touch, but we expect the frenzy of the November release to subside as more watches become available.
Let me assure you, we’ve made the move to batch production for purely practical reasons - we’re not doing this to make our watches more exclusive. While there will occasionally be a limited edition release, our main collection will routinely return in future batches. Our watches take enormous amounts of time and skill to make, though, so please do stick with us.