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Pre-built watches (aka What the h*ll takes so long!)

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We follow the Kingston from start to finish. Not all pre-built watches have such a laborious delivery but this one covered all of the bases.

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Each case is inspected in our Pennsylvania (USA) workshop and then coated with a protective paint before shipment to our Swiss assembler.

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An overview of the components that have to be inspected, prepared and packed for each watch that is sent for Swiss assembly.

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Mk II is one of the few boutique marks that purchases all of its movements (and components) directly from manufacturers such as ETA SA. Forgoing private label manufacturers and middle-men affords us greater control over the final quality of our watches and the opportunity to continue a perpetual process of self-improvement.

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The "watches" have returned from the picturesque Jura region of Switzerland. Every Mk II timepiece is assembled by hand in Switzerland or in our Pennsylvania (USA) workshop.

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The quality control resumes and is a constant obsession throughout the process. Here we check the hand alignment, crown operation, and the movement clamps inside the case. Based on this review we classify each piece by the amount of re-work required, if any.

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In this specific case we need to un-case the movement. (a, b) Checking the stem to make sure it’s free of dust and debris before re-inserting it into the movement. (c, d) Verifying the date wheel wasn’t damaged during assembly while we clean it.

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We un-cased this movement because he hand alignment was outside of our tolerances. As a result we set aside this watch for re-work into one of our custom Kingstons.

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Removing the hands from the movement. The dial is covered to protect it from the hand puller.

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In this example part of the hand mis-alignment was because the dial was not centered on the movement so we go about re-setting the dial as well as the hands.

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Tightening the clamps that secure the dial to the movement.

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(a) Re-checking the hands for scratches, (b) bending the hour hand to travel parallel to the dial when installed, (c, d) putting a curve into the minute and seconds hand so that the custom red tipped sweep hand will clear the crystal, (e) adjusting the hand setter to the 2836-2, (f) setting the hour hand

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Setting the minute hand

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Re-adjusting the minute to improve the hand alignment before fitting the seconds hand.

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A close-up of the installation of the seconds hand.

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Running the movement to confirm that the hands clear each other at all points around the dial. Yes that is a grotesquely long thumbnail. I keep one nail on my hands a little long to help me perform tasks such as opening bracelets or picking up small parts. Also the human nail is hard enough to clean many case materials without scratching the surface.

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Cleaning the movement ring of small bits of dust and debris that might work themselves into the movement if left alone. Prepping and cleaning the case for final casing of the movement.

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The three main parts are ready for casing, again.

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Checking for dust under the crystal after setting the case over the movement

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Installing the casing clamps and casing screws. Every Mk II watch features a movement ring that suspends the movement inside the case, a refinement more commonly reserved for watches several times more expensive because of the complexity inherent in its implementation.

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One of the casing clamps became magnetized through static electricity. Here we are verifying that it has been successfully de-magnetized before installing it into the watch.

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After years of custom building watches I prefer to hand cut and fit the stem to length if needed. It a time consuming detail but one if done properly makes adjusting the watch very satisfying and re-assuring.

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The final timing of the movement. Every time the movement is re-cased its timing has to be verified again. Even if the watch doesn’t require any re-work we check the movement to verify it was un-affected by the trip back from Switzerland.

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Timing in 3 (or in this specific case 6) positions requires moving the watch around so we mask the case and cradle to prevent scratching of the finish.

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Inspecting the bracelet. (Like my Paradive :D)

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Checking the bracelet for imperfections. The lighting we use is very harsh but it enables me to see every detail. The unflattering lighting is the reason everything is in black and white.

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A final check of the crown function and fit before more cleaning.

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We spend a lot of time just cleaning. Here we are checking for even the smallest debris like lint or excess grease. If oils from a finger, for example, aren’t cleaned up the acid can actually burn into the finish of the movement. I have a beautiful chronograph (not an Mk II) with a display back that features a striking thumb print permanently etched on the rotor by a careless technician. It’s a reminder that no detail is too small.

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Greasing the case back gasket and setting it so that we can finally close up the case.

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Again more checking and re-checking. Reviewing the case back, again, for imperfections before installation.

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Tightening the case back.

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Every watch we send out is individually verified for its rated water resistance. By this point in the process the case has already been tested at least three times and undergoing its fourth and fifth tests.

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The watch is precariously poised on the testing stand. One time I accidentally bumped a LRRP off the stand, damaging the case finish in a momentary lapse in concentration, and had to go back to step #16.

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We perform three different tests. One that checks the crown’s water resistance, the crystal’s security, and finally the overall watch’s water resistance to its maximum rated depth. It’s rare for a watch to fail its pressure tests at this point but we never take these kinds of details for granted.

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Cleaning the bezel before installation. I know the state of my hands is quite bad. I have to wash my hands quite often during the day and can’t use moisturizer as the lotion can contaminate our components.

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Whenever possible we install the bezels ourselves. This provides us with the control we prefer to align the bezel with the dial precisely and adjust the action of the bezel when needed without having to risk marring the case body.

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Pressing the bezel onto the case body. The paper is there to keep the die from scratching the bezel.

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Final inspection of the insert to check the quality of the surface finish and printing before installation. What you can’t see is that when I am installing the insert I am standing over the watch so that I can center my iris over the dial to get a precise alignment of the insert.

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Double checking my work. If the insert is mis-aligned now it means having to pop the bezel off, risking damaging the case.

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Installing the bracelet. It can only go downhill from here so it’s critical to stay focused.

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The watch is finally done. The cardboard you see under the bracelet is there to immobilize the bracelet so it won’t scratch itself or the case while in transit.

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The end. Thank you for taking the time learn more about us!

We follow the Kingston from start to finish. Not all pre-built watches have such a laborious delivery but this one covered all of the bases.Each case is inspected in our Pennsylvania (USA) workshop and then coated with a protective paint before shipment to our Swiss assembler.An overview of the components that have to be inspected, prepared and packed for each watch that is sent for Swiss assembly.Mk II is one of the few boutique marks that purchases all of its movements (and components) directly from manufacturers such as ETA SA. Forgoing private label manufacturers and middle-men affords us greater control over the final quality of our watches and the opportunity to continue a perpetual process of self-improvement.The "watches" have returned from the picturesque Jura region of Switzerland. Every Mk II timepiece is assembled by hand in Switzerland or in our Pennsylvania (USA) workshop.The quality control resumes and is a constant obsession throughout the process. Here we check the hand alignment, crown operation, and the movement clamps inside the case. Based on this review we classify each piece by the amount of re-work required, if any.In this specific case we need to un-case the movement. (a, b) Checking the stem to make sure it’s free of dust and debris before re-inserting it into the movement. (c, d) Verifying the date wheel wasn’t damaged during assembly while we clean it.We un-cased this movement because he hand alignment was outside of our tolerances. As a result we set aside this watch for re-work into one of our custom Kingstons.Removing the hands from the movement. The dial is covered to protect it from the hand puller.In this example part of the hand mis-alignment was because the dial was not centered on the movement so we go about re-setting the dial as well as the hands.Tightening the clamps that secure the dial to the movement.(a) Re-checking the hands for scratches, (b) bending the hour hand to travel parallel to the dial when installed, (c, d) putting a curve into the minute and seconds hand so that the custom red tipped sweep hand will clear the crystal, (e) adjusting the hand setter to the 2836-2, (f) setting the hour handSetting the minute handRe-adjusting the minute to improve the hand alignment before fitting the seconds hand.A close-up of the installation of the seconds hand.Running the movement to confirm that the hands clear each other at all points around the dial. Yes that is a grotesquely long thumbnail. I keep one nail on my hands a little long to help me perform tasks such as opening bracelets or picking up small parts. Also the human nail is hard enough to clean many case materials without scratching the surface.Cleaning the movement ring of small bits of dust and debris that might work themselves into the movement if left alone. Prepping and cleaning the case for final casing of the movement.The three main parts are ready for casing, again.Checking for dust under the crystal after setting the case over the movementInstalling the casing clamps and casing screws. Every Mk II watch features a movement ring that suspends the movement inside the case, a refinement more commonly reserved for watches several times more expensive because of the complexity inherent in its implementation.One of the casing clamps became magnetized through static electricity. Here we are verifying that it has been successfully de-magnetized before installing it into the watch.After years of custom building watches I prefer to hand cut and fit the stem to length if needed. It a time consuming detail but one if done properly makes adjusting the watch very satisfying and re-assuring.The final timing of the movement. Every time the movement is re-cased its timing has to be verified again. Even if the watch doesn’t require any re-work we check the movement to verify it was un-affected by the trip back from Switzerland.Timing in 3 (or in this specific case 6) positions requires moving the watch around so we mask the case and cradle to prevent scratching of the finish.Inspecting the bracelet. (Like my Paradive :D)Checking the bracelet for imperfections. The lighting we use is very harsh but it enables me to see every detail. The unflattering lighting is the reason everything is in black and white.A final check of the crown function and fit before more cleaning.We spend a lot of time just cleaning. Here we are checking for even the smallest debris like lint or excess grease. If oils from a finger, for example, aren’t cleaned up the acid can actually burn into the finish of the movement. I have a beautiful chronograph (not an Mk II) with a display back that features a striking thumb print permanently etched on the rotor by a careless technician. It’s a reminder that no detail is too small.Greasing the case back gasket and setting it so that we can finally close up the case.Again more checking and re-checking. Reviewing the case back, again, for imperfections before installation.Tightening the case back.Every watch we send out is individually verified for its rated water resistance. By this point in the process the case has already been tested at least three times and undergoing its fourth and fifth tests.The watch is precariously poised on the testing stand. One time I accidentally bumped a LRRP off the stand, damaging the case finish in a momentary lapse in concentration, and had to go back to step #16.We perform three different tests. One that checks the crown’s water resistance, the crystal’s security, and finally the overall watch’s water resistance to its maximum rated depth. It’s rare for a watch to fail its pressure tests at this point but we never take these kinds of details for granted.Cleaning the bezel before installation. I know the state of my hands is quite bad. I have to wash my hands quite often during the day and can’t use moisturizer as the lotion can contaminate our components.Whenever possible we install the bezels ourselves. This provides us with the control we prefer to align the bezel with the dial precisely and adjust the action of the bezel when needed without having to risk marring the case body.Pressing the bezel onto the case body. The paper is there to keep the die from scratching the bezel.Final inspection of the insert to check the quality of the surface finish and printing before installation. What you can’t see is that when I am installing the insert I am standing over the watch so that I can center my iris over the dial to get a precise alignment of the insert.Double checking my work. If the insert is mis-aligned now it means having to pop the bezel off, risking damaging the case.Installing the bracelet. It can only go downhill from here so it’s critical to stay focused.The watch is finally done. The cardboard you see under the bracelet is there to immobilize the bracelet so it won’t scratch itself or the case while in transit.The end. Thank you for taking the time learn more about us!

Vantages are sold out….

and have been since the beginning of September. Epaulet in NYC will be getting two more before the end of November but I do not know anything regarding their availability.

Thanks to all of our Vantage customers for making this watch such a success!

LRRP Mailing List

We will be posting the long awaited 48 click GMT bezel version of the LRRP soon as well as some of the remaining LRRPs that we still have left as we wind down production of the LRRP. If you were directed by the “Shop the Collection” button to this page the link will be updated to re-direct you to the E-boutique when the watches have been added to the web store.

If you would like to be among the first to be notified when the news is posted please add your name and e-mail to the mailing list below. As always this list will only be used for those interested in the LRRP and will not be merged with any other mailing lists that we have. Once the news is sent out the list will be deleted. Once you have been added to the list you will be re-directed to the Mk II homepage and you will receive a confirmation e-mail.

 

 

 

Beadblasted Sea Fighter now available!

We have posted most of the available Sea Fighters on the site. The BUND I-A with beadblasted finish will be posted later today. The DLC BUND I will posted on the E-boutique later this week.

Project 300 Size Survey

The survey link has been sent out to the Plankowners via e-mail. For those of you with a deposit on file already please take the survey linked through this e-mail.

If you are a current Plankowner do not take the survey that is linked below. The survey link below is for everyone else interested in the project and not for the Plankowners.

Project 300: Size Survey (General – i.e. non-Plankowners)

If anyone has any questions please post them here.

Updates/Changes to Customer Service Efforts

The following is a detailed summary of what has been going on behind the scenes and in some cases not so behind the scenes….

* Dealer cuts: Over the last year I have been restructuring the way we operate. In late May/early June I came to the realization that we hadn’t achieved all of the efficiencies that I had anticipated. As a result I concluded that we were unable to support such a “large” dealer network. Although it personally pained me to do so we had to cut some of our dealers in order to give me the breathing room needed to increase our capacity. Ironically this meant cutting our most productive dealers, Milwatches and Gnomon. I would like to make it clear that I did not end their dealerships because they had done anything wrong. Quite the contrary, they were both exemplary dealers and I will continue to recommend them. What it came down to was basic mathematics, I just couldn’t create enough slack in our production schedule to hire and train more staff if I had to continue to supply them watches at wholesale prices. We will of course honor the warranties of any watches they have in stock or sold since our partnerships ended. Epaulet in New York and Urtid of Sweden continue to operate as Mk II dealers.

* Phone inquiries: I am sorry to say that we had to end the practice of taking inquiries by phone. That is to say if you have an urgent problem and you leave us a voice mail we will respond by e-mail or via the ticket system and by phone if necessary but we can only field general questions via the CRM portal. I do apologize for the inconvenience this will cause some customers and realize that this will turn off other prospective customers.  Given that I have more work than hours in the day I have to budget my own time with an iron fist. E-mail enables me to manage my time more efficiently. I understand that this means leaving “money on the table” so to speak but its better to serve our current clientele better and grow into a service level that will enable us to consistently serve the customers that we can reach but can not help at this time.

* New web site and upgrades to the E-boutique: I hope that everyone is adjusting to the new layout and finding the new web sites are easier to use and more informative. The new sites follow a general trend in online retailing by creating what is termed a “brand” site that is separate from the web store. I am not certain why other companies do it but we structured out web sites this way for technical reasons. Ultimately I hope that the information people need will be easier to find and updated more consistently. The new brand site is the reason why we have been able to do a better job of producing more timely updates and more informative content. Without it I would still be coding web pages manually with the updates backing up because I was stuck wondering why the second bullet point won’t left justify properly. That having been said I expect that the brand site will finally look like what we envisioned after a few more revisions during the remainder of this month.

* Size of the Watch Collection: Although the selection on the E-boutique right now is relatively sparse this reflects an artificial shortage. We are trying to control the number of models available at any given time in order to manage our lead times more effectively. One can expect at least the same number of new watches in a given year but launched sequentially rather than all at one time.

* CRM portal: Even after running the system for a little more than a year we are still learning how to fully utilize the software. Fortunately the software is good enough that we were effective from day 1 but we are still making adjustments in how we deploy it to get the most out of it. It’s been quite an adjustment for me personally because organizing everything in a virtual space requires a different logic. I am at heart the kind of person that would be more comfortable covering all of the walls with white boards and working that way. However on this scale and in this day and age it would be ridiculous to essentially work the way they kept track of Spitfires in the Battle of Britain.

On balance we are more responsive than we have been in the past and the “ticket system”, as impersonal as it may sound, is enabling us to better tailor our efforts to each individual customer’s needs. To be perfectly honest, over the last 6 months, we have dropped the ball on a few customers but the situation has been steadily improving. If one compares what it was like to interact with us 18 months ago to today you would be forgiven for thinking it was an entirely different company.

* Project software: We have been using Project planning software now for the last month or so and it’s been a cruel mistress. Operating with the software has been eye opening in that it has helped me make better decisions and get a better feel for our productivity. We are trying to work down our lead times as quickly as possible while trying to ship the Kingstons as quickly as possible. Balancing these two priorities has been very difficult but so far we are still on track to finish delivery of the first 200 Kingstons by year-end, although not necessarily before Christmas.

If you made it all the way down to the bottom of this post congratulations are in order. These kinds of posts are neither fun to write nor read but I hope that you come away with the conclusion that we are responding to customer feedback and will continue to work earnestly towards providing our customers with a more rewarding experience.