Horologium talks branding, business and being part of WatchPro Market’s inaugural year

Horologium, a UK-based watch service centre dedicated to providing after-sales service for independent brands, is heading to WatchPro Live’s Market event in December.

Held at Truman Brewery, a former industrial site in Shoreditch that is now London’s most visited market district, is a consumer-facing event allowing exhibitors to showcase their products and services in the heart of the trendiest part of the capital.

Many of the brands, like Horologium, will be digital natives that rarely get the chance to present their timepieces or services to customers before they buy.

Raphael Pfund, watchmaker and co-founder of the business, tells WatchPro Live more about what it was like building a brand in the midst of the pandemic:

What is the story behind the business?

The idea of our company started a while back after an experience I had with a watch of mine from a Kickstarter launched microbrand from Asia.

After some time I had needed a new original gasket, a part usually costing not more than a pound or two, to ensure water resistance. Despite having the benefit of being a watchmaker myself, it was quite complicated and expensive, due to international shipping costs, to get that gasket and replace it.

Being a local touchpoint for customers here in the UK simplifies that process significantly as we can have local stock of parts such as gaskets, movement parts and so on. Additionally dealing with warranty issues becomes a much faster and less disrupting experience, both for the customer as well for the brands themselves.

What exactly can you offer as a brand?

Since we started, the scope of our services has actually widened quite a bit. While we started with After Sales Services for independent brands, we are now also working with UK based brands such as Studio Underd0g on their pre-sales efforts to provide quality control services and even assembly on their future products. We are also working with Tom Clemence to provide the assembly for his debut model he’ll be launching this summer on Kickstarter.

We recently starting working on an online shop where we will offer a selection of independent watches from around the world, accessories, as well as pre-owned watches. We plan on launching our shop in August or September this year.

Tell me more about the process behind the after-sales service.

That depends a bit on the brand and whether or not it is a warranty case. For a regular service the customer usually gets in contact with us directly through our website and we then provide them with an online quote. The customer then sends the watch to us where we will inspect the watch in our workshop and confirm the quote or adjust it. In the unusual case of an adjustment, we offer free returns for our partner brands should the customer no longer be happy with the estimate.

Once accepted, we start with the disassembly of the watch and the movement. We then clean the case and the bracelet – if present – in an ultrasonic bath. The movement parts are cleaned in our state-of-the-art machine and then double checked for cleanliness and functionality.

The next step is to reassemble the movement, apply the appropriate greases and oils and regulate it back to factory standard. We then monitor the watch to confirm everything runs as it should and afterwards ship it back to the customer, with 2-year warranty – on our partner brands – on the work carried out. This whole process usually takes us around two weeks from the point the customer accepted the estimate.

In terms of the brand partners you work with, how do you get them on board and how does that relationship work?

Some of them I knew from previous connections, and otherwise it’s just researching new and independent brands, their owners and the best way to reach them.

If someone is interested in offering their customers a simple and high quality after sales service we then chat about the details and how they can benefit from our services.

Once a partnership is agreed, we post their logo on our website and start taking care of their watches’ repairs, including warranties. For some of the brands we also retain a stock of the most commonly needed parts to speed up our turnaround times.

I hear you are working on your own line of straps. Can you explain more on that?

Together with the launch of our online shop we also want to offer our own line of straps with a focus on sustainability. One way we want to achieve this is by using end of production leathers supplied to us by local companies.

The other is with using sustainable leather alternatives such as Pineapple Leather.

We are working with local leather craftsman Hennes Bam and his Company Due South Leather based in Oxfordshire to end up with a high quality, sustainable and locally produced product.

Where are you based and how do you operate in terms of logistics?

Since we started last October we have been working from our home in Reading in a dedicated room where we have set up our workshop.

Starting in June we will be located in Pangbourne where we will have a commercial space with two floors just a few minutes’ walk away from the train station.

There we will also be able to welcome customers to drop off their watches if wished. We will continue to have most of our work posted to us, to conveniently serve the whole of the UK.

Do you have plans for expansion?

We have some ideas for the future, but for right now we are focused on settling into our new space and establishing ourselves in the watchmaking community of the UK.

Finally, what excites you most about WatchPro Market?

Being a digitally native company started in the pandemic we are excited to get out there and engage with brand owners and representatives and the whole of the watch community in the UK in person for the first time.

We are looking forward to be a part of this December’s WatchPro Market and many more to come.

Brands that would like to know more about how to participate in WatchPro Market should contact Lucy Cheesewright at [email protected].

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