Founded in 2020, the Alliance of British Watch and Clock Makers is the trade body formed by some of Britain’s leading watch and clock makers to encourage and guide renewed energy within the sector.
We were delighted to have the opportunity to discuss the goals and objectives of the Alliance, with two of the founder members, master watchmaker, Roger W. Smith and Mike France, Founder of Christopher Ward.
MWM: What are the main goals of the Alliance?
RS: Our first goal is for British watch and clock making to gain recognition as a distinct sector of the UK economy.
We then want to encourage market growth for the British sector and to give our members a distinct and joined-up voice.
We’re also keen, in the long term to develop British supply-chain and to help our sector to create jobs and careers.
MWM: Why are you launching the Alliance now?
MF: It’s been the culmination of two years of planning and, against the backdrop of Covid, we felt that going live in a virtual world would demonstrate that we’re a modern and global organisation; and offer a positive conversation to what has been a universally grim year otherwise!
MWM: Tell us something we don’t know about the Alliance?
MF: You might assume most of our watch and clock makers are based around London. In fact we have members from Perth in Scotland (Marloe) all the way down to Poole on the South Coast of England (Elliot Brown) and in most counties in between. We’d love to see a watch or clock company emerge to come and represent Wales though!
MWM: How are you specifically helping young and aspiring watch makers?
RS: First of all, we’ve made membership of the Alliance’s Club free of charge for students on accredited full-time watchmaking courses with our leading British educational establishments, such as Birmingham City University and the British School of Watchmaking.
However, in the long term, coming back to our goals for the sector we want to help drive supply chain and, in turn, encourage more jobs and careers in Britain which, ultimately, is about providing opportunities and ensuring we have enough talent to sustain our growth as a sector.
MWM: How will you work with organisations such as the British Horological Institute (BHI)?
RS: We reached out to the BHI and other organisations before going live; primarily to explain our plans as the first sector body for businesses making and trading watch and clock products – as opposed to individual watchmakers or restorers, who are already very well represented by such as the Guild or the BHI.
We were very gratified by their encouragement and hope that our best contribution to their work is in raising awareness of, and interest in, British watch and clock making.
MF: Ultimately a bigger global and domestic market for British watch and clock making has to be good for our colleague organisations, whether they are focused on education and skills; jobs; or supply chain.
We will always encourage a collaborative approach and dialogue as we all agree that our ultimate objectives are shared objectives.
MWM: Do you foresee a time ‘post-Covid-19’ when you may look to host ‘physical’ events for collectors?
RS: We certainly do and have got plans for a major event towards the end of next year. In the meantime, we will be hosting virtual events and I will hosting the first of these on January 27th – An Open Dial with Roger W. Smith OBE will take place at 5pm GMT exclusive to Alliance members – and giving attendees an in-depth behind the scenes look at my studio and answering questions live!
MWM: What is next on the horizon for you?
MF: That would be our Bellwether survey and report which we’ve commissioned from KPMG, the global advisory firm. As far as we’re aware, it’s the first of its kind for Britain and, not only will it help establish the scope and heading-of-direction for our sector, it will help guide our overall strategy and identify the areas the Alliance needs to focus on.
The mission of the Alliance of British Watch and Clock Makers is to:
- To promote British watch and clock making around the world
- To provide a powerful voice for our sector
- To champion British provenance
- To encourage British supply-chain, jobs and technology
It’s time for British watch and clockmakers to be recognised as a business sector, with the guidance and encouragement of its own trade body.