EXPLORA7ION

#1 MARLOE WATCH COMPANY

WELCOME TO OUR FIRST EDITION OF EXPLORA7ION, SHOWCASING INTERVIEWS WITH SOME OF OUR DYNAMIC, CREATIVE AND ENTREPRENEURIAL CLIENTS.

In this edition James Campbell, ENGINE710’s sales and marketing executive, and Jane MacDowall, brand director, get under the mechanical skin of the Marloe Watch Company.

Marloe Watch Company is an independent designer and producer of wrist watches based in Perth, Scotland, created to reinvigorate the world of mechanical timepieces.

Enjoy!

READING TIME: 20 mins

EXPLORA7ION

#1 MARLOE WATCH COMPANY

WELCOME TO OUR FIRST EDITION OF EXPLORA7ION, SHOWCASING INTERVIEWS WITH SOME OF OUR DYNAMIC, CREATIVE AND ENTREPRENEURIAL CLIENTS.

In this edition James Campbell, ENGINE710’s sales and marketing executive, and Jane MacDowall, brand director, get under the mechanical skin of the Marloe Watch Company.

Marloe Watch Company is an independent designer and producer of wrist watches based in Perth, Scotland, created to reinvigorate the world of mechanical timepieces.

Enjoy!

READING TIME: 20 mins

EXPLORA7ION

#1 MARLOE WATCH COMPANY

WELCOME TO OUR FIRST EDITION OF EXPLORA7ION, SHOWCASING INTERVIEWS WITH SOME OF OUR DYNAMIC, CREATIVE AND ENTREPRENEURIAL CLIENTS.

In this edition James Campbell, ENGINE710’s sales and marketing executive, and Jane MacDowall, brand director, get under the mechanical skin of the Marloe Watch Company.

Marloe Watch Company is an independent designer and producer of wrist watches based in Perth, Scotland, created to reinvigorate the world of mechanical timepieces.

Enjoy!

READING TIME: 20 mins

“I was perhaps naive to think there would be more in there – moving cogs and the like – but there wasn’t.”

“I feel that right from the start, we were totally committed to what we wanted to do.”

OLIVER

JANE: We are delighted to welcome both Oliver and Gordon, founders of the Marloe Watch Company to our first EXPLORA7ION.

Guys, I understand the Marloe Watch Company is around five years old and that Gordon, you’re the creative behind the business, and Oliver, you’re the marketing genius behind it, the extraordinary entrepreneur!

OLIVER (laughing): Yeah, although I don’t think Gordon would refer to me as a marketing genius!

We are a little over five years old, so still very young. I feel that right from the start, we were totally committed to what we wanted to do, and that was to create products that were engineered and extremely well designed.

That ultimately came from a pushback against a battery-powered quartz watch I had a few years ago. I was intrigued with the mechanics behind it, so I took the back off which revealed, disappointingly, very little inside.

That quartz watch cost me about $250, and I had been a bit ignorant as to what I was actually spending my money on.

I was perhaps naive to think there would be more in there – moving cogs and the like – but there wasn’t. That sent me on a journey to understand watches better, and really focus on how I could make something more valuable by creating a much better design.

Hence the whole Marloe concept and, bizarrely, during that time, I happened to cross paths with Gordon, who, as you say, is the creative side of the business. It’s he who brought Marloe to life really.

JANE: We were intrigued to read about the twist of fate and the curious email that brought you guys together.

OLIVER (laughing awkwardly): Erm yeah! So, my background is marketing with a bit of sales. I have no background in watches whatsoever. I cannot design, and Gordon will definitely back that up! I can’t draw a picture, let alone design a watch.

When this idea came to me about making a well-designed watch that could compete at a similar price with cheaply-made quartz watches, I started to ask people if they would help me design one to see if it could be done.

Back then we had no money, so I couldn’t pay this person to design the watch. I must have asked about 50 people, and everyone just replied, well, to be honest they either didn’t reply or they replied very jovially with a drawing of a circle with two lines on it saying, “there is your design, pal”.

JANE: Folks can be so helpful!

OLIVER: It was all extremely negative, and, in fact, I nearly stopped altogether. Then one day, I was in a watch forum where I was looking for people who talked about design. As chance had it, I happened upon a chap who was very elegantly writing replies and messages. He had his email signature with a link on each response, so I clicked on that and went through to his design journal, his blog. I read all the articles and, surprisingly, he’d tried to launch a watch a few years previously, so I emailed Gordon completely out of the blue – having stalked him across the internet – saying, “Look, what do you think about this? Do you want to start a company with me?” And so, yeah, that’s how it all started.

GORDON: When Oliver first emailed me, I was about to become a dad, so it was a very difficult idea, going into business over the internet with someone I’d never met! But Oliver had this great drive about him. He knew what he wanted, and he had the finances to get things off the ground, which I never had. After a couple of weeks, I thought, I can’t let this opportunity slip, especially now that my daughter is about to come into the world. I need a backup plan for my day job. Anyway, because of that, it was pretty much driven by Oliver at the start.

“I emailed Gordon completely out of the blue – having stalked him across the internet – saying, “Look, what do you think about this? Do you want to start a company with me?”

OLIVER

“I don’t know what it was, whether it was what Oliver was saying or just his attitude, I just had this inherent trust right from the get-go.”

GORDON

JANE: Engine710 started maybe a year-and-a-half behind you guys. It is always a big risk setting up something new, from scratch.

A lot of people have dreams in their head, like you, Oliver, with the dream of creating a better, affordable and yet luxury item to market, just from opening up the back of that watch and seeing what was behind it all. That sounds so like Ben, co-founder of ENGINE710, who has been opening up anything mechanical from a very early age to make it work better. Knowing him as I do, I also know the mess that causes, especially when the mechanical piece is a Defender 90!

So yes, what made you take the risk? And especially, Gordon, for you, with the new baby on the way?

GORDON: When we first started talking about this, it was just over email, going back and forward, and we did that for a long time. Oliver and I would just email: we never spoke. The more you email someone, the more you get a sense of their character, and we were talking about stuff in depth quite quickly.

You get a feel for somebody’s attitude to things. Quite early on I developed a high level of trust. That was the keyword for this to work. Throughout the first two years, my dad still couldn’t believe that I would trust someone that I hadn’t met physically.

I don’t know what it was, whether it was what Oliver was saying or just his attitude, I just had this inherent trust right from the get-go and I thought, aye, this guy’s outlook on life, and his drive to do something with himself, resonates so closely with what I wanted to do.

Five days before my daughter arrived, my gran died which gave me this incredible emotional swing of, you know, I need to make sure that I do something here with myself. Because pretty soon it’s the end.

“I thought, right, how can I canonise my desire to do something proper with my life?”

GORDON

GORDON: I thought, right, how can I canonise my desire to do something proper with my life? And at that very moment, Oliver and I were at the ‘do this’ stage. I thought we need to do this properly, if we pour ourselves into this, then it could be something great.

It got to the point where we were setting up this company and we were becoming directors and it was serious stuff. There was a lot of trust up to that point, and then, when it became a kind of legal entity, we met face to face. All that trust was genuine and authentic for both of us: a kind of camaraderie. We’d had a crack at something exciting, and, if we were going to go for it, we had to fully go for it!

OLIVER: There was a moment – I’m sure you will remember, Gordon – where we had been emailing maybe for six months or so, and, at this stage, it was very conceptual. We were designing a watch, talking to manufacturers, and really just trying to hash out prototypes and figure out who we were, what we stood for, and those sorts of things. About six months in, I remember Gordon saying to me, “Can we have a call with our partners?” I was engaged at the time and Gordon was married, and I said, “What? like a video call?!”

This is completely common now, but it wasn’t back then. So, I said, “Yeah, sure! Why?” And he said, “Well, I don’t know, I feel like there’s even more commitment and even more buy-in when you start getting the family involved”.

JANE: I am delighted you got your wives to do a final sense check of the whole partnership because, of course, women are always right.

(GORDON and OLIVER laugh)

OLIVER: Just to give a bit more context why we hadn’t met for all that time, I live in Sweden and I was in Stockholm, where my wife and I were working. We didn’t really travel back to the UK that much, and when we did, it was to Marlow. We didn’t actually move back to the UK until about 18 months after I’d sent that first email.

JANE: This period of COVID-19 and lockdown has really got a lot of people thinking about what they are doing with their lives. What would you say to the younger generation – or older generation for that matter – who have a dream that they want to realise but are kind of stuck? How would you suggest they got over that hurdle?

GORDON: That’s a really difficult question because my and Oliver’s situation is so rare to find: two people resonating at the same frequency, meeting by chance over the Internet, and with the same goals.

For me personally, early on emotionally, that kind of gave me the grip to say, “Right, this is an opportunity that I can harness because of my skill set and my attitude of ‘whatever’”.

For someone who wants to follow their own dreams, it’s hard to get the motivation. It’s hard to find the opportunities, but I guess if you believe in it enough, and you have the willpower to do something about it, then nothing can stop you.

My motivation is my daughter Eva and making sure that she is set up for life. I don’t mean that she’s not got a worry in the world, I just mean that she’s given the opportunities that I had. Being a parent as a driver is powerful, although I wouldn’t say become a parent to realise your business dreams!

I was lucky that I had Oliver to say, “Hello, I want to do this as well”. For somebody to try it off their own back, it’s hard work. At the point where you think, that’s enough, I’m fed up with this, that’s the point where you just have to say, “Look, I’m going to stick with this”. It’s very easy to say, “Forget it”. You need to keep pushing through: nothing comes easy.

JANE: Yeah, it’s that compelling reason that pushes you forward to believe that nothing can stop you. I know you said you were lucky to meet Oliver, but I believe ‘what you seek you find’.

“At the lowest point, you still need to be able to go, “Come on, we can do this. We can make it work.””

OLIVER

OLIVER: I think luck has played a part in our development several times. We’ve considered ourselves very lucky on numerous occasions, so I definitely feel that plays a big part for anyone who is chasing their dreams. If Gordon hadn’t tried to develop his own watch three or four years before I contacted him, I may never have contacted him. I do feel that your actions can create luck in a way.

I do believe that everyone has a passion, everyone wants to do something. I remember someone once told me a long, long time ago, that whatever it is you love to do, just do that and keep doing it until you become a professional at it.

They say if you play a sport or train for 10,000 hours then you become a professional. You become the elite at it, like Olympic athletes. It took me 35 years to figure out what my passion was.

But I never knew what I wanted to do. It genuinely took me to 35 to open the caseback of a watch to understand what my passion was. And then it was like a lightbulb moment.

For me, it was really just about hard work. Gordon and I worked our full-time jobs for a year-and-a-half, two years before we gave them up. So, you’re working fully 50-hour weeks, and then, after that, you are running your own business evenings and weekends. It’s again, going back to making your own luck. It’s hard work: there are highs and lows like Gordon says. At the lowest point, you still need to be able to go, “Come on, we can do this. We can make it work”. I think it is realising your passion, chasing your passion, and hard work. It’s all that sort of grit that has got us to where we are.

JANE: That’s so true, find something that you love, and working at it until you become brilliant at that thing. And journeying with your current jobs during the day and your new business venture at night, sounds like there was a bit of caution going on before you finally took the leap.

“I remember someone once told me a long, long time ago, that whatever it is you love to do, just do that and keep doing it until you become a professional at it.”

OLIVER

JAMES: Yes, it’s also really helpful to hear that it took you 35 years to find your passion. That really resonates with the younger generation: me, in fact. It’s hard to know what you want to do at a young age, and yet there is pressure on you to find it even when you are still at school. Tell us more about the risk taking.

OLIVER: Yeah! It is a bit of a boring thing to say, but you’ve got to manage the risks. Risk is so important for a small business, and I think there’s a statistic, where nine out of ten businesses fail in their first year or three years. If you just manage the risk, then you can make it work. I’m a bit of a numbers person, so I would question every single penny that Gordon wanted to spend, i.e. can we justify it? And it is boring, but you need to manage the risk.

Every decision you make, make sure there isn’t too much risk around it. I suppose I felt so passionately about what we were doing, I wanted to spend every penny we had on all these prototypes on developing the business. But at the same time, I knew if we spent all our money, then we wouldn’t have a business. It’s just about managing that element.

JANE: My dad always said to me when it came to risk taking: “What’s the worst-case scenario? If you can handle that worst-case scenario, then do it. If you can’t, don’t”. I run all my decisions through that simple filter.

“It’s hard to know what you want to do at a young age, and yet there is pressure on you to find it even when you are still at school.”

JAMES

“One of our favourite young British brands… Marloe watches can’t be matched for Great British value.”

GQ MAGAZINE

JANE: You guys have been in so many great international magazines, like Vogue, GQ and Top Gear. GQ said that very few can match the quality of your watches, which, having been running for as long as you have, is an incredible accolade.

In that same article, Oliver, you said that, as a child, you used to watch your father winding his watch in the morning as a kind of ritual, and a nod to a slower living culture. Did that memory subconsciously affect the whole watch fascination and the slow living, slow pace of life you talk about when it comes to the Marloe brand?

OLIVER: I think the piece in GQ was about my father who would wind his watch every day at the breakfast table. It was an incredible, calming moment, I don’t know why. I just used to watch him wind his watch, which was quite mesmerising in this moment of complete calmness. And actually, I think I’d forgotten about it for years, until one day I said to Gordon, “What is the difference between a manual watch and an automatic watch?”

There are three watch types, other than smartwatches, in the world. There is a quartz watch which is battery-powered; a manual watch which you have to wind by hand; and an automatic watch which is wound by a rotor on the back, powered through kinetic energy. I said to Gordon, “What about we make our first watch as a manual watch?” A hand-wound watch, and it was at that moment that it dawned on me: that’s what my father was doing.

He had a hand-wound watch which was his father’s, my grandfather’s, watch. He was winding it every day because it had a power reserve of approximately 40 hours, so it needed winding every day. And that’s what he was doing, going through this ritual of winding his watch, putting energy into the watch himself. All this sort of romanticism boiled up, so I realised what had been happening all these years with these fond memories that I had.

In fact, you mention slow living. It was all of these conversations that were happening with Gordon at the same time I was living in Stockholm. Slow living is a part of Swedish culture.

That culture was the opposite to the fast-living, fast-food one: it was so inspiring.

There was a clash of these two elements whilst I was taking the caseback off that watch I spoke about earlier. It was all very cheaply made and mass-produced. At Marloe, we are really trying to push against that and celebrate the slow-living, beautiful engineering behind these mechanical watches.

JANE: You say that you watched your father putting energy into the watch by winding it. I’m wondering if, in some way, your watches put energy back into people, and it helps them recalibrate life, just for that moment, bringing in that whole Scandinavian way of living.

“Our watches do one thing: they tell you the time, and they are only going to tell you the time if they are powered by you and your touch.”

OLIVER

OLIVER: Gordon actually wrote a line – I can’t quite remember what it was – for our marketing and promotion right at the start. Something like, ‘our watches are powered by your touch, and that’s what it is all about’. There is nothing wrong with a quartz watch if you want an accurate watch that you do not need to touch for three years, or if you want a watch that’s going to tell you you’re late for a meeting, or that you’ve got an email.

Our watches do one thing: they tell you the time, and they are only going to tell you the time if they are powered by you and your touch. Our customers love that daily routine of having that contact with their watch and giving it power themselves. I think that that’s a really big part of why our watches resonate with them.

Jane: The whole presentation of the watch, the way you open it, the literature: everything is an experience in itself. Your strapline, Beyond Expectations, sums it up: everything is considered, from cradle to grave, in terms of the manufacturing process.

GORDON: Our philosophy is that you just deliver on every front and beyond what somebody is expecting of you. Especially for the price, if you blow somebody away, they are more likely to talk nicely about you.

You can choose a box off the shelf, you can choose a watch part off the shelf, you can do anything like that off the shelf. But that’s not what we do. We consider everything because we want to deliver this experience of how it can be.

Our new boxes are black inside, with fabric lining, and the iconic leather patch that says, ‘Beyond Expectations’. It’s just a way to give people layers of excitement. By the time you get down to the watch, you’ve had this journey of learning about us and seeing how we do things.

It’s just an experience thing. We are all about ‘come with us, come into our world and see how we do things, and what we find interesting and exciting’. You will soon find that there’s this Pandora’s box of incredible human endeavour and life experience that we have tapped into.

It’s a way to start that journey off, to control that entry into our world.

MARLOE ATLANTIC WATCH

ATLANTIC

MARLOE HASKELL WATCH

HASKELL

MORAR

MARLOE CONISTON WATCH

CONISTON

JANE: From the watches I have seen, they feel like generational pieces, legacy pieces. You talked about your father’s and your grandfather’s watch being passed down. I can actually see these Marloe watches being passed down generationally.

JAMES: There are four collections of watches, is that right?

OLIVER: Yes, there are four collections of watches, and then there are limited or special edition ones. The entry point for Marloe Watch Company is the Coniston: our sort of do everything, daily watch

And then we have the Morar which is our dive watch. It can go down to 350 metres if you want it to. You wouldn’t survive, but the watch would.

(JANE laughs at GORDON’s comment)

Then there is the Haskell which is a Swiss watch, a daily adventure watch, but at a higher level. That was inspired by Scott going to the Antarctic and trying to get to the South Pole.

The last one is the Atlantic, a kind of aeronautic, heavily 1920s-era watch: a pilot’s watch.

The project for me took three years to go from the first concept to delivery. There were so many peaks and troughs in that project, from design woes to manufacturers walking away.

It was a certain achievement for me personally to get that out into the world.

OLIVER: The Atlantic is a good example as well of several things that we’ve touched on. There is a passion of ours to create beautiful, engineered pieces.

The level of risk you need to take. Gordon came to me about a year-and-a-half ago now. We had the second prototype of the Atlantic, and he had been looking over the prototypes for about a week or two, and he just said, “Look, I’m really sorry, but I want to start again”.

The point where you have made two prototypes, you have probably invested tens of thousands of pounds, and I sort of said, “Sorry, what do you mean?” And he said, “It’s not resolved. I can’t move forward as a designer. It needs massive, massive changes”.

It’s at that point where you need to ask the question: What is the risk here?

Can we do that, or in fact can we afford not to do that? It really goes to show what Marloe stands for: that we are not gonna bring anything to market that isn’t well designed and resolved or we’re not proud of.

So, we made the decision to scrap what we’d done to that point, other than the learnings that we’d experienced, and start again.

There were so many hurdles that we had to overcome, but this is another thing about bringing your passion to life. It’s never easy, and if it is, it isn’t worthwhile.

“There were so many hurdles that we had to overcome, but this is another thing about bringing your passion to life.”

OLIVER

MARLOE ATLANTIC WATCH

ATLANTIC

JANE: I’d love to have been a fly on the wall when that conversation was had. How many times have you guys fallen out?

GORDON: Aye, the resolution is too high. You need to think about it on an hour-by-hour basis. How many times have we fallen out in the hour?!

(Everyone laughs)

GORDON: I guess it comes back to the trusted thread. Oliver and I operate in everything that we do from an unspoken but fully accepted position: we are both just trying to do the best we can for ourselves and the business.

And we do, openly. Everything is on the table. We argue all the time. ALL the time. But it’s for the greater good, and we accept it as that. Get it out there, say what you are thinking, and give the other person a chance to explain themselves or react, or help you through that emotional turmoil. We have a very rare and explosive relationship.

JANE: Within all of that is growth. If you don’t have that honesty with one another, how can you learn as people, individuals, as partners, or as a business?

“Everything is on the table. We argue all the time. ALL the time. But it’s for the greater good, and we accept it as that.”

GORDON

“People are clever. If you try and pull the wool over their eyes, they will see right through you.”

GORDON

JANE: Your brand values of honesty and integrity are really the core to who you are as people and as a brand. Do you think that has been one of the reasons behind your success?

GORDON: People are clever. If you try and pull the wool over their eyes, they will see right through you.

Trust in authenticity is so difficult to build up. You have to put your neck on the line. People see that, and they recognise the attribute: “Those guys are genuine”.

The second you introduce doubt, or anything else other than authenticity, you’re done. You have to live by the sword and die by the sword.

JANE: People aren’t stupid, as you say.

In terms of your workspace, I imagine you in this beautiful studio, wooden floor, beautiful paintings on the wall, jazz playing, fresh coffee on, while you create your next masterpiece. You have kind of blown that illusion for me after your chat with the Atlantic! I take it it’s not like that, then?

OLIVER: It will be soon! We are just having new premises purpose-built in Kinross on the banks of Loch Leven, working with a very up-and-coming architectural firm called LBA, who are creating a space for themselves.

We have come onboard early to help them create some space for us as well.

It has concrete floors, white walls, and exposed beams. It is a very beautiful space in a very old barn.

One thing that we haven’t done, for the entire five years plus, is worked in the same place.

So, we’ve never been to the same office and when we do meet together, there is normally coffee on, and some record playing on Gordon’s fancy record player.

It definitely is much more what you would envisage during those times. Those are our downtimes where we chat about where the business is going; what products we’ve got coming up; and any design issues, that sort of thing.

But on a day-to-day basis, it’s more stuff like this: video calls, packing boxes, answering emails. It’s not perhaps as glamorous as it may seem.

JANE: At least there is a bit of glamour in there!

“The second you introduce doubt, or anything else other than authenticity, you’re done. You have to live by the sword and die by the sword.”

GORDON

JANE: Tell me more about your glamourous Defender 110, and your thoughts on ENGINE710.

(GORDON laughs, choosing his words carefully)

GORDON: I’ve primarily been speaking with Doug, who is such a character. He knows what he’s talking about and has a real kind of persuasive way about him.

Yeah, we wanted the – I call it ‘The Bus’, because it is like a bus – we wanted it because last year was meant to be a year of events for us. We had lined up a bunch of big, kind of mass events, festivals, things like that, where we would travel as a team on The Bus to these events, unfold the Marloe area with a canopy, and be seen.

So, we got the Land Rover for that reason. We wanted something that would fit in all this stuff, could drive across a field if you needed it to and take our team around the country.

We lined it all up and then COVID-19 hit. So, now we’ve got The Bus, but with no events to go to!

Luckily for me, you know, with the snow and the weather outside just now, it is pretty handy for me to get to and from the office. It has its benefits.

JAMES: Yeah, they are great vehicles for this weather. Ben was seen yesterday towing a massive articulated lorry with concrete slabs on it up Queensferry Road with his old 90.

(Everyone laughs)

JANE: What’s your vision for 2021? What is the big plan? This new office venture is huge for you.

OLIVER: Yeah, the new office is massive for us. There’s one key reason for this new office and that’s more of a long-term plan, which hopefully we will start in 2021: to bring the assembly to Scotland, to the new office. We have created a space that allows for a design studio and fulfilment area, as well as an assembly area.

That for us is really exciting: to be potentially a parenthesis, a watchmaking parenthesis, bringing back skill to the area that used to be there.

There used to be a watchmaking facility in Dundee, so we are just really keen to get into this new office and start this new chapter in our lives. We will always offer what we offer now: affordable or accessible mechanical watches with attractive price points, whilst bringing that engineering excellence into our products.

JANE: Exciting! There’s going to be no rest for the wicked then?

(OLIVER: laughs)

OLIVER: No rest for Gordon, that’s for sure!

JANE: Well, Gordon and Oliver, thank you for sharing your story for our first edition of EXPLORA7ION. I guess, Gordon, you’ve got to go up to Perth now and pack some boxes?

GORDON: Yup, that’s me! I’m going to get into our Defender, The Bus, and travel up the motorway and hopefully not get stuck in this snow!

OLIVER: Just call James if you get stuck.

JAMES: Yeah, just give me a ring.

GORDON: I’ve got a Land Rover: I can’t be getting stuck.

Marloe watches are sold exclusively online at marloewatchcompany.com

“With us, you will soon find that there’s this Pandora’s box of incredible human endeavour and life experience that we have tapped into.”

GORDON

IF YOU’D LIKE TO RECEIVE THE NEXT ISSUE OF EXPLORA7ION AND OTHER UPDATES FROM ENGINE710, SIGN UP HERE.

PS. We only send two newsletters each month so we won’t bombard you.

SIGN UP TO NEWSLETTER

SERVICING & MOT

Please email CHRIS@ENGINE710.COM

REPAIRS & MAINTENANCE

Please email CHRIS@ENGINE710.COM

RESTORATION & MODIFICATIONS

Please email DOUG@ENGINE710.COM

SALES & BROKERAGE

Please email DOUG@ENGINE710.COM

THE MARINA / SOUTH QUEENSFERRY / EDINBURGH / UK / EH30 9SQ

THE MARINA
SOUTH QUEENSFERRY
EDINBURGH
UK
EH30 9SQ

T +44 (0) 131 331 2810