WORDS BY JOSEPH FURNESS
We like our things to be certified. We like beginning our day by blending certified Canadian maple syrup into our breakfast smoothie; scrolling through and following certified Instagram and Twitter accounts on our commute to work; and celebrating the end of the day by raising a glass of certified French champagne; all whilst wearing our certified Swiss Made watches.
The Swiss Made status isn’t easy to acquire, but 9-year old London brand Uniform Wares have been able to boast such a title since launching. How did they do it? By thinking with an international mind. We asked the brand’s co-founder, Oliver Fowles, to shed some light on what it means.
So what does ‘Swiss Made’ actually mean?
You can’t just use Swiss movements and then put ‘Swiss Made’ on the dial. The watch has to be assembled in Switzerland, and it has to have at least 60% Swiss manufactured parts. It’s actually become even stricter recently. And later this year that qualifications become stricter again.
Why is the ‘Swiss Made’ title so protected?
There are a lot of brands that say ‘Swiss this, Swiss that’. Previously, many brands have used expensive Swiss movements and Swiss parts so that they could label their watches ‘Swiss Made’. But this new process cuts out all of the brands that aren’t doing the ‘Swiss Made’ title justice.
Your pieces are designed in London. How come?
Combining London designs with Swiss manufacturing means we have the best of both elements at Uniform Wares. There are no real drawbacks to being based in London. Actually, it makes us quite unique, and therefore works in our favour, to be one of the only English brands to produce ‘Swiss Made’ watches. It doesn't really matter where we're based from a logistics point of view. And from a design point of view, being set-up in East London has only creatively inspired us.
Both our professional and personal friends are part of the creative industries in London. We have connections in architecture, fashion and graphic design, which has given us great creative perspective. Our London-based team, as well as many of our friends, are international which gives us an even broader outlook.
Everything is designed in-house, from the website to the packaging, even our Atelier space has been designed by my architect brother, and our London location certainly influences our creations.
Why was being ‘Swiss Made’ important to you?
We’ve always wanted to produce watches of sophistication, something we’ve worked hard towards. Also, production-wise, the people that we work with won’t just work with anyone. You can’t just knock on their door and ask them to assemble your watch and provide movements for you, they will check you out. Many of these suppliers restrict the brands they work with so we are proud to work with them; they’re the best in the industry and that’s why we keep them under wraps.
We’ve always wanted to create something really spectacular but we’ve had to be patient. The watch industry, ironically, doesn’t move at a particularly fast pace.