Tag Archives: robert loomes

My Salon QP – Friday Robert Loomes

Salon QP is now over for another year. This year, as I have already written, I was a little disappointed that neither Pinion or Schofield were exhibiting. However, now on my fourth year I am getting used to the format of the show and so I am starting to feeling comfortable in the Saatchi Gallery.

QP logoOne learning from last year was that around the show there are also some great presentations from interesting people in the industry. This year the talk that caught my eye was Robert Loomes discussing about how he got to be building his movements in Britain; held on Friday lunchtime. Robert is a super enthusiast who apparently would happily tell everyone about is journey for as long as they are prepared to listen. Salon QP disappointingly limited his time.

Robert’s talk was not limited to his new movement, but his watchmaking history that lead up to this  point. The key to his story would appear to be Roberts, “well, that should be possible” attitude mixed with a healthy dose of patriotism. To cut a long story short the whole enterprise started with a bet. Now this all seems like a recipe for the usual heroic  “could have been, if only ” situation.

The heroine in this story, as in so many, would appear to be Robert’s wife Robina, who in 2011 bought the business and left Robert to get on and do the technical stuff. Robina recognised one of the most important current marketing trends “localisation”, customers, a much better description than consumers, are paying more attention to the origin of the products they buy. This has become very evident in the world of food and drink but is now moving into more durable items such as clothing and of more interest to us, watches. Watches that are now, from a practical point of view redundant, have become more  personal statements leading more people wanting to know more about the story and origins of the product the are buying to make that statement. For many people that includes wanting to support their national industry or even to go as far as wanting to know the people responsible for making their watch. These are the people Robert and Robina sell there watches to.

The "Stamford"
The “Stamford”

In making their new “Stamford” watch Robert and his team have built on they experience of making the Robin watch using modified NOS Smiths movements. The Stamford being a development of that  movement in a case and dial similar to to the Robin. Initially only 24 examples will be made 12 in gold and 12 white gold and maybe one for Robert himself in “stainless gold”. Unfortunately, for those of us with other demands on our salary, the price will be £28,500. I did enquire if there was a chance these prices might drop if production increases and bring economies of scale. The message from was fairly unambiguous from Robert, unlikely. Given the small number of all the components they are are ordering from small local engineering companies it is difficult to lower cost significantly.

Having said all of this I am confident that Robert and Robina will find  24 buyers that believe in their idea of localisation. Congratulations.

Neither Schofield or Pinion will be attending Salon QP

The salon QP is where I first met with both Schofield and Pinion, so I am a little disappointed to discover that after the absence of Pinion last year, Schofield have decided not to attend either this year.

For the first year since Schofield launched its Signalman model watches they are not exhibiting .  The reasons are simple; wthey are very busy with a completely new watch called the Daymark and very busy with the production of the new bronze Beater B2. There is a risk that none of their new watches would be ready .

On the up side there will still be a significant presence from British watch brands such as Fears, who will be launching at the event, Dennison, Robert Loomes and Garrick. The last two with new movements.

Robert Loomes – New Movement

Last week an interesting tweet from Robert Loomes mentioning they would be showing a new movement at the salon QP this year.

In the interests of investigative journalism I sent an e-mail to Robert himself to see if he was prepared to say more before the official unveiling. Somewhat to my surprise I got an very interesting reply back.

Robert clearly does not want to give away all his secrets but he is interested in the word getting out with a drip drip of information.

To wet our appetite he sent me over this picture of the  “Stamford ” movement without jewels or wheels.

The Stamford Movement
The Stamford Movement

The key desire is to have a watch movement with no imported parts, Robert says he has been working towards this for ten years. His company has gradually been making more and more parts to use in their watches based around a stock of 1950’s Smiths movements. They are particularly proud of their enamelled dials.

Robert has gone round the country and re-discovered many of these skills that were popularly believed to have been lost to the country.

The mainplate, cocks and bridge for the “Stamford” are all designed and machined and hand finished in our workshops. Most of the other components are manufactured by small specialist machine shops around the country, either turners ( Robert himself does not use a lathe at work except for a bit of prototyping). Wheels, pinions, winding gear, motionwork, anything which requires turning is easy to outsource once you have a design. Jewels are lasered out for us by another English specialist. 

He does not want to get into “Haute Horologies” with weeks of mirror hand-polishing and finishing. He is more interested in producing wristwatches. So the price should be a fraction of AHCI luxury watch producers, ever if it is still a very expensive beast compared with their previous offerings.

This interview with Robert by Hodinkee on there recent tour of British watchmakers gives some great insights into what he is trying to achieve, interestingly he does not mention the movement.

I am really looking forward to seeing this movement at the Salon QP.

Does Size Matter – watch size that is…

I recently ran across this interesting chart showing the “correct” case size for different size wrists.

4-Rules-To-Select-the-right-watch-size

Now you may or may not agree with the recommendations but it did make me think again about how long the current trend for 42mm and larger watches will last. This is pertinent to some of our British Brands that seem to favour the larger cases. I am thinking of the Schofield Signalman, Pinion Axis and Garrick range. Bremont do offer their Solo in 37mm but sort of as a female watch.

I wonder if case sizes will start to get to more practical sizes ? Is the announcement of the Tudor Heritage Black Bay, at 36mm, the start of that trend ? Will British brands, other than Robert Loomes who has always had smaller watches, follow ? Fashion is often cyclical.

Robert Loomes – Gurkha Watch update – Daily Telegraph

Initially created for an Everest expedition,

this elegant new range is now raising funds for the

Nepal relief fund

James Gurney

By James Gurney

May 22, 2015 10:47
A gurka on the Everest expedition wearing a Robert Loomes watch
A gurka on the Everest expedition wearing a Robert Loomes watch

A gurka on the Everest expedition wearing a Robert Loomes watch

A gurka on the Everest expedition wearing a Robert Loomes watch
Picture: Alun Richardson

Quoting Rabbie Burns is not the best way to introduce a story on Robert Loomes & Co, Lincolnshire’s determinedly English watchmaker, but “the best-laid schemes o’ mice an’ men. Gang aft agley,” seems fitting, as what was a simple plan to raise funds for the Mountain Trust and the Gurkha Welfare Trust has become a somewhat more serious endeavour. Loomes & Co sent a batch of watches off to Everest with a party from the Royal Gurkha Regiment, who were planning to climb the world’s tallest mountain as part of the 200th anniversary since the first Gurkha battalion was raised in India.

Loomes’ interest lay in the company’s use of (extensively) reworked Smiths movements in their Robin watches, Smiths having famously sponsored the 1953 expedition to Everest which saw Edmund Hillary and Tenzig Norgay conquer the summit. The catalyst, however, was a chance encounter with the chairman of the Mountain Trust, Charles Malcolm-Brown. He offered Robert Loomes the opportunity to send watches to Everest as part of the Gurkha expedition and on March 10th the watches were officially handed over at Stamford Town Hall. The watches use 19 jewel, manual-wind, Smiths movements that have been completely stripped and re-built with re-frosted and gilded plates as well as lighter “cold weather” lubrication, adjusted for running at -20 and -40 degrees.

Sadly, events overtook the expedition in the shape of the disastrous series of earthquakes and aftershocks that have devastated Nepal over the past few weeks. The team were already above Camp 2 on the Everest massif and climbing to 7,000m when the quake struck. The subsequent avalanche stranded them and other groups above the effectively impassable Khumbu Glacier.

After co-ordinating the helicopter rescue of their own party and everyone above them on the mountain, the Gurkha team helped lead the relief work at base camp. Once the team finally return, two of the watches will be auctioned on behalf of the Mountain Trust and the Gurkha Welfare Trust – both organisations that are well-placed to help deliver aid and relief to the mountain communities so hard-hit by the recent quakes.

In the meantime Robert Loomes has set up a raffle page to raise funds, the prize being an Everest Expedition watch: visit the website for details on how to enter.

Robert Loomes – Everest Watch

Here is link to a nice little video about the watches Robert Loomes supplied to a Royal Gurkha Regiment expedition to climb Everest.

I imagine there is a special connection between the Smiths movements, that Loomes modifies for their watches, and Edmund Hilary Everest expedition.

Subsequently the expedition have been caught up in the earthquake disaster. You can follow there progress on the Robert Loomes website.

http://www.robertloomes.com/everest.html

Watchmaker Loomes on top of the world – watchpro.com

Here’s a nice story on the Watchpro.com website. I have not seen it reported anywhere else, not even on Robert Loomes own website.
Feb 9, 2015
The Robert Loomes & Co. Everest watch.The Robert Loomes & Co. Everest watch.

British watchmaker Robert Loomes will be presenting a mountaineering team from the Royal Gurhka Regiment with watches to help them scale Everest in May.

Stamford-based Robert Loomes & Co. has been working to raise funds for high-altitude health and education organisation The Mountain Trust and will present a number of watches to the Gurhkas in March, ahead of an Everest expedition to celebrate their regiment’s 200 years of service with the British Army this year.

Charles Malcolm-Brown, chairman of The Mountain Trust, will give a presentation before the specially-prepared watches are officially handed over on March 10 at Stamford Town Hall.

The Gurhkas also support the work of the Mountain Trust and are said to be enthusiastic about being equipped with British watches. Mechanical watches are seen as more reliable than quartz alternatives, which can freeze up in the kind of conditions experienced on cold weather expeditions.

Climb leader Captain Dick Gale of the Royal Engineers, currently attached to the Gurhkas, will also be present to receive the watches with some of his team before flying out to Nepal the following week.

Robert and his wife Robina first met at high altitude in Bolivia 24 years ago, almost making it to an altitude of 6,000m. The summit of Everest is at 8,848m.