The art of watchmaking is to be brought back to Courier Country as a local firm makes plans to expand operations.
While Marloe Watch Company currently design their watches in Scotland, manufacturing is outsourced.
Now the firm, which is based in Perth, plans to bring the process in-house as part of its expansion plans over the next 12 months.
The move comes almost 30 years after the region’s last major watchmaking firm, Timex, closed its doors.
Parts will be manufactured in Switzerland, Japan or even elsewhere in Britain before being made into the final product in Scotland.
Plans to recruit apprentices
Company co-owner Oliver Goffe said: “We realised that what we wanted to do was assemble our watches in the UK.
“We are developing a purpose-built premises on the banks of Loch Leven and we will be able to bring a skill that used to be in Dundee at the watchmaking firm (Timex).
“We hope to bring that skill back – for apprentices to learn the skill and art of watchmaking.
“There’s a lot of people working on doing that and we want to be part of that movement, so to speak.”
While lockdown has proved challenging for many companies, Oliver and his business partner, watch designer Gordon Fraser – who lives in Kinross – were able to take it in their stride.
He said: “Gordon is based in Perth and I run the business from the Netherlands. The idea was to travel back and forth between the countries but Covid made it too dangerous to travel.
“We’ve been doing this for five years and Gordon and I have never worked in the same place. When we started the business I was in Sweden and he was in Scotland. I moved back to Henley and now he runs it from Scotland and I’m in the Netherlands.
Business inspired by expensive watch with cheap parts
“We didn’t even know each other when we started running the business. I found him on a forum and asked him if he wanted to start a business with me. Since then we’ve become very good friends.
“I came to this when I took the back off of one of my watches and there was basically nothing inside. I could see I’d been an absolute mug to pay £200 on a battery-powered quartz watch that would cost nothing to make.
“Then I started researching how to make a proper watch with a mechanical movement. I was in a watch forum and I saw someone commenting on posts intelligently and articulately. He had a signature with his blog which led me to him – that was Gordon.
“So we’ve always utilised tools like Skype to make it work for ourselves. When lockdown struck it wasn’t an unusual situation for us (to work remotely) – we’ve run the business for five years over the internet so it wasn’t a big deal for us to continue to do it during lockdown.”
The lockdown has also helped the business grow, with turnover more than doubling over the past 12 months.
The company is on course for a turnover of almost £1 million by the end of this financial year. Oliver and Gordon expect to increase that to £1.5m the following year.
E-commenrce businesses have leg-up in lockdown
“A lot of businesses have suffered. Although we’ve doubled turnover there were problems – with supply chains and other areas of the business,” Oliver continued.
“The positive for us is that we are an e-commerce business.
“We do not have stores, we don’t sell through retailers, we just sell them through our website.
“So when lockdown strikes and shops close anyone with an e-commerce presence has a leg-up immediately because people have to buy online.
“When the lockdown first happened we saw our sales double overnight because people couldn’t go to shops. And even once we were out of lockdown that trend has continued.”