In Conversation With David Brailsford Of Garrick On New Models, Supply And Demands, And More
A lot of good things are happening at one of the most outspoken British indie brands!
As one of the most vocal advocates of reinstating traditional British watchmaking to its former glory, Garrick remains on our radars for obvious reasons. For years, the indie watchmaker co-founded by David Brailsford has been chiselling away at the goal to produce watches at a relatively affordable but also high-end level. Somewhat of an impossible juxtaposition in itself by the sound of it, but the brand seems to have found its proverbial Mojo, and a strong clientele, to keep things moving forward! One of the latest products, the more compact Garrick S5, was a big hit with collectors. But there’s more going on at Garrick, as we’ve learnt in a conversation with David recently.
Robin Nooij, MONOCHROME: David, it has been a while since we last spoke and I know a lot has happened since at Garrick. How is the company doing?
David Brailsford, Co-Founder of Garrick: It certainly has, Robin. To be honest, it’s been a crazy year for us. There’s been lots of highs and lows which come with running a company. We’ve lost some staff members and gained new ones, all in the space of a few months but orders are through the roof and fortunately, we have 2 years of work to keep us going through the lean months ahead. I say lean months ahead because I do believe the bubble will burst.
After all these years I still deal with every client myself and I personally answer every phone call, email and WhatsApp. This personal approach pays dividends and many clients have become very good friends. So, as our business grows, some things never change.
You launched the more affordable S4 in late 2020/early 2021 and the smaller S5 just a few months ago. How are those two models doing?
The S4 is now our best-selling watch and the S5 sold out for its allotted build slots for 2022 and 2023 before we even officially released it. So both models are doing extremely well but as you know, we can only build a low number of watches each year.
Then there was the Fears x Garrick watch. Can you tell us a bit more about that project?
This was a match made in heaven. I’ve been friends with Nick (Nicholas Bowman-Scargill, founder and CEO of Fears Watches) for years and we’ve always admired each other’s brands which is why we thought it was so important to do something together. We are two very different brands, however, we both have very loyal followers who appreciate and admire our work.
We worked on the project for over 3 years – fitting it in between our busy schedules. It was a closely guarded secret which worked in our favour on launch day. Social media went crazy and we were overwhelmed by the response! We are currently building the watches and we hope to be delivering by the end of the year, assuming testing and regulating it go according to plan.
And if it wasn’t enough, you’ve also previewed the new S6 and Regulator MKII!
Yes, it might seem a crazy thing to do given we haven’t mentioned a launch date, but given our current waiting list, it made sense to pre-book some build slots. Honestly, I feel so humbled when clients trust us enough to place orders after seeing a render posted on social media. It makes all our hard work worthwhile and we really appreciate all the support!
So yet more pressure on what I know is already a pretty tight production capacity?
That’s an understatement! We build every single watch to order and carry no stock, meaning it’s almost impossible to give an accurate build time. We are late on a few occasions but, I answer every message instantly and I’m always truthful with clients thus averting any potential problems.
I think communication is key but if I’m honest, delivering watches on time is the only thing that keeps me awake at night. On the plus side, our clients are pretty savvy and understand how things work.
We hear a lot of indie brands struggling with supply & demand. How does that affect Garrick?
As stated above, we build every watch to order and we’ve always had a waiting list of some kind – the difference now is that clients don’t seem to mind long build times as they understand the situation. It’s also no secret a lot of companies are struggling with this.
Any positive sides to this perhaps?
Not really. I would dearly love to carry some stock but we are never in a position to build our own watches. It’s a crazy situation. Personally, I don’t like waiting for anything although after waiting nearly 9 years for a personal Garrick watch it finally looks like I’ll be getting the watch of my dreams!
You already do quite a bit of the work in-house, so why not ramp up production as you control most of the manufacturing processes from start to finish?
We’ll never be in a position to do everything in-house and we certainly don’t have enough trained staff but I’m proud of what we can do. Imagine how long it takes to make a dial or a set of hands. We do these things using traditional methods and there’s no way to speed things up. We infill the markers on our dials by hand, using a syringe and ink. I think that says it all!
We are a small company with a strange philosophy (high-end, affordable) and our profits are low. We plough every penny back into the business, and although I do have grand plans for the future, we’re a few years away from funding any kind of expansion that will make a big enough difference.
Don’t get me wrong Garrick is in a strong position but my partner and I are still a million pounds short of being millionaires!
You also told me you have a new very cool “machine” in your workshop recently. Can you tell us a bit more about it?
Ah yes, I am so excited about our latest acquisition. We are the proud owners of the very rose and straight-line engines used to produce Derek Pratt’s dials. We were contacted by the owner who sadly has a terminal illness. He wanted us to buy them and, of course, we were overjoyed considering we had no idea they still existed. Sad circumstances but at least they’ve come to a very good home. We’re currently stripping it down and checking everything, which takes quite a bit of time with such complex and delicate machines, but they will be put to good use soon!
What’s 2023 and onwards looking like for Garrick at the moment? Can you shed some light on future plans?
We are launching the new S2 deadbeat seconds, S6 and Regulator MK2. It may sound like we’re building a lot of watches but bear in mind we’ve only allocated build slots for 10 of each model. Ideally, I’d like to take on a couple more watchmakers and double our output which is currently around 70 pieces per year but I have no idea when this will happen.
Oh and one more thing. We’re also working on a small auto based on the S5 calibre which will be really exciting! Either way, it’s onward and upwards!
For more information, please visit Garrick.co.uk
Some of Garrick’s watches are just beautiful. Definitely on my grail list…