A genie in the wrong bottle

Posted on June 23, 2014 by Gary Carruthers

Trinity Church Square, London, 23rd June 2014

I often get asked why we use numbers for our different watch movements, and why they are not in order.

Our use of numbering, like our austere approach to dial design, is a deliberate choice to keep our brand values simple.  Our movements are remarkable enough as they are, and we don't want to distract from that.

Why are they not numbered in order?  Well actually, they are.  Just the order I designed them in, not the order we're releasing them in.

No.1 to No.4 were based on a different hardware architecture - with seven independent moving pointers, no less - but when I tried to add the Bluetooth module, there simply wasn't space.  Thankfully, I think I can fix that thanks to a new design based on the newer TI CC2541 silicon. 

Given how long it takes to design everything to perfection, you won't hear any more about any of them until 2015 at the earliest.  But I can't resist telling you that the No.1 is my personal favourite, a private adieu to George Daniels.  And partly why I got into watchmaking in the first place.

We're skipping the No.5, out of respect for another brand's investment in the trademark.

The No.6 you'll hear about later this year.  It reflects my passion for flying airplanes.  People I've privately shared my designs with find it the most mesmerising.

The No.7 delivers live sports results.  This perplexed us for quite a while.  I love it, but its target market doesn't overlap with the Hoptroff brand values too well.  Wrong look.  Wrong price point.  Wrong - I don't know - wrong spirit is probably the best way of putting it.  A genie in the wrong bottle.

We solved this by creating a diffusion brand - created by Hoptroff, associated with us, but focused on a different group of customers, and marketed and distributed differently.  Thanks, PC, for being an inspiration in this.  If you wannabe a No.7 wearer, check out the HotBlack London web site.

No.8 you may be familiar with - the one that reminds you of the appointments you have today.  It's surprisingly popular, considering the customer base is disparate and hard to get the message out to.

The No.9, the stock market watch, is deliberately targeted at our friends on the other side of the Thames.  And from next year, we'll be establishing beachheads in Battery Park, Wan Chai and Tokyo Bay.

My No.10 came from an unexpected flash I had in a restaurant.  Like some unplanned pregnancy that, once you've got over the shock, you're delighted with.  Often people think the numbering is a reference to Downing Street, but it is not.  I'm just numbering them in order.

The No.11 came about because my wife said, "Can't you just make a normal watch for a change?"  I realized she had a point.  But I'd got as far as design number eleven before I woke up to it.

No.12 is a work in progress.  It's an aesthetic and technical challenge, and I haven't quite figured it out yet.

There wasn't going to be a No.13, due personal superstitions.  Then my friend T pointed out that it is a blessed number in Judaism.  So it will be a Jewish watch.  We're still in early days in its design.

No.14 is an interesting departure - a matter of choreography more than anything.  But it will take a lot of effort to get right.  If you've every worked in a post-production editing room, and wondered where the hell the day went, you'll know exactly what I mean.

No.15 is our recently launched Islamic watch that points the direction to Mecca.  I want to wait till we can make a watch case in something other than gold (because of Haram) or steel (due to magnetic permeability) before we really push the marketing boat out on that one.

No.16 and No.17 are on the drawing board.  No.16, something people have frequently asked me for; No.17, something I find to be profound, but at the same time manages to be very silly - an important capacity none of us should ever lose.

We'll be skipping No.18 and No.19, and, when we get so far, No.22.  Again out of respect for other brands.

And that's it, for now.  Though I promise you, plenty more to come.

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