The British School of Watchmaking is an independent institution which looks for students with the ability, aptitude and desire to become the exceptional watchmakers the modern market requires.
They will be joining us at IJL 2019 on the new Watch District. Ahead of this we caught up with director, Jon Weston about the general watch scene and to find out more about the school in an exclusive for IJL Inspire.
Tell us a bit more about the British School of Watchmaking.
The BSoW is the only facility in the UK teaching CFC qualifications, which are preferred by the worlds leading watch houses. We now have an 1800 hrs service watchmaker course ( the first in Europe ) and a 3000hrs course that involves more of the micro mechanics. We have produced 77 watchmakers since opening in 2006, they are all essential additions to the industry.
Talk to us about the importance of continuing to nurture homegrown watch-making talent and the impact this has on the industry?
There is a shortage for all in this sector and new blood is desperately needed. More than half of the current work force in watchmaking are over 50 years of age, so new blood is essential, not only from a service point of view, but also to protect the fine art of watchmaking. Sales of watches here in the UK have ballooned, additional homegrown talent will be needed to maintain these timepieces in next 10-15 years and beyond.
What trends do you see playing a big part in watches for the next season?
I see the pre-owned developing strongly along side the brands and of course these also need service centres to cater for these. I would strongly urge all workshops within the UK to get involved with the BSoW for this reason. The hard to get watches out there will see increasing demand and waiting lists because they are so special. Managing client expectations is a regular part of our industry now both in the sales and aftersales sectors.
You will be participating at IJL 2019 on the brand new Watch District, why do you think it is important for watch brands to take part in events like IJL?
I’ve witnessed a dramatic increase in the quality of stands at the show in recent times, it’s becoming more of an important event in the calendar, so it’s great to see the watch element being more now involved. In a perfect world it would be great to see it develop as a mini Basel world, watches attract buyers, so I think it’s essential to attract more or them, the mix would be a winning formula.
How have changes in technology and social media affected the industry?
This area is huge now and it changes on a weekly basis as to what works and what’s popular. My personal experience is that it raises awareness and drives sales, no one can afford to ignore it today. Consumer spending is changing, we need to react appropriately in order not to get left behind!
How has the introduction of ‘Smart’ watches impacted the industry?
Put simply, it has affected the traditional watch market under £500, however, the brands affected has innovated with inspiring ideas to retain some market share. It’s convenient to have all the gadgets and it appeals to pretty much all age groups, mostly the younger ones of course. I think it’s here to stay and it will develop even further.
Jon, you have a retail background… The UK’s retail market has recently been going through some changes, how would you say this had an impact on the watch industry and how should brands be working to thrive in challenging times?
It’s no secret that retail in general is suffering in the UK, but there are some bright lights too. Brand identity is everything whether you are the local brand or global. You need a clear Image strategy to adhere to, without compromise. The “Shopping experience” is so vital today, whether it’s digital or in your showroom, it’s essential to develop your own mystery shopping programme ensuring every member of your team is working within the best practices of your company. You also need to be offering what your key audience wants. It’s paramount to ‘stay hungry for it’ keep that fire in your belly and always push forwards, keeping a keen eye open for opportunities … you never know when they may occur.
Make sure to visit the BSoW on the Watch District stand D21e at IJL 2019. Book your FREE ticket today, 1 – 3 September 2019.