2018-11-30: Project GMT/Key West update

Apologies for the delay as we had hoped to get this published before the end of October and did not intend for there to be such a long stretch between updates. Based on the pace of the work the time passes mostly in a blur and it’s very easy to lose my temporal bearings even for extended periods of time. As noted in the Oct. 12th post we were waiting for vendors to provide us with time frames for rework and delivery of parts. The remainder of the delay is a result of WindUP prep and catch-up as well the Thanksgiving holiday. Ideally I would have waited to post this update until after at least the EP QC was started so that the information below would be less subject to change but an update had to be posted.

Outstanding Parts:

  • End Pieces (“EPs”) for the bracelets: These parts were returned to the vendor for study and re-work/replacement in Q1 of 2018. The replacement parts were delivered last month and we will begin QC on these parts next week. Our hope is that the parts are better than the first batch and that we will not have to test fit each piece individually, as we did previously. This was an issue we highlighted with the vendor when we returned the parts that did not pass the first round inspection. In theory we should only have to test fit a small sample of the batch and if those are okay we can skip to the visual quality assurance (VQA). So we shall see.

  • Bezel inlays: We received a ship date for the end of December. We have been waiting on these parts for quite some time but with the ship date finalized delivery should occur late December/early January.

  • While waiting for these parts we have been performing QC on bracelets, dials, and hands as time has allowed.

What this means:

  • If the EPs test out okay we will resume assembly and shipping of the black/red variants of the Key West in December. The black/red inlays are in stock but because there were no EPs to finish the watches assembly has been on hold.

  • Blue/red variants of the Key West should resume assembly and shipping toward the end of January assuming the parts are shipped on time and the QC goes smoothly.

  • We expect to finish the last black/red Key Wests from Groups 9/10 by the time the bezel inlays arrive. When those watches are done we will move directly to the inspection of the inlays so that we can ship the blue/red versions from Group 9/10 as soon as possible after receiving the parts. What this also means is that the General Order customers (the customers that placed their orders this year) will begin shipping after we finish Groups 9/10. For the General Order customers we are, so far, on track to begin delivery in Q1 2019.

Points of clarification:

  • Some people are under the impression that the Project 300 is jumping the line when it comes to delivery. In reality the 300 Plankowner customers have been waiting much longer than any of the outstanding Key West customers and the 300 should have begun shipping before the Key West did. It is actually the Key West that was pushed up because it was ready for delivery sooner. Part of the delay in posting the update for the Key West is that we have spent the last few months making the final preparations to begin delivery of the 300s while we were waiting for the Key West parts.

  • Ready-to-wear (“RTW”) line: We have to launch 1-2 models a year to keep the line relevant. This line is necessary for Mk II because the Benchcrafted projects, due to their complex supply chains and higher QC standards, end up with, as you are experiencing, unpredictable down time during development and production. The development of the ready-to-wear collection is part of a multi-year restructuring effort in order to provide a stable foundation for the future while making it viable for us to continue to execute the Benchcrafted projects. The RTW line has enabled us to gradually ramp down lead times for the Benchcrafted projects, increase responsiveness to communication, and maintain aftermarket service. While it would be ideal to drop everything and focus on the open Benchcrafted projects, experience has proven the necessity of the RTW line.

  • When we post about our workload here or on Instagram our goal is to impress upon customers that we we are working as quickly and hard as possible (i.e. much more than the standard work week) and that we do not take their patience for granted. Unfortunately, as careful as we are in our presentation, we can’t compensate for how everyone could interpret these posts. One customer has viewed our posts as complaining about having to work hard and attempting to elicit sympathy. While we appreciate his feedback on our communication his interpretation could not be further from our intention. The flip side is that if we don’t post at all about our efforts many people get the impression that we are sitting on our hands. That being said the next 4-6 months (with the exception of a few days for Christmas with my in-laws) will be spent in a push to complete the deliveries of all the remaining pre-orders for the Key West and the 300. We are incredibly grateful for the opportunity to bring these watches to you and view this “work” as a true privilege.