(Oliver Fowles & Patrick Bek)
So your both product designers, how did it come about that watches is what you wanted to do?
We wanted to set up our own business with small products that we could use every day, we identified a gap in the market for a watch that we wanted to buy that was around sort of the 100 pound mark, an everyday timepiece that was uncluttered and wearable that could appeal to quite a wide audience who had a good eye for detail. Initially we were going to launch with a few different products with watches being the main one but after designing the 100 series and seeing how successful it was it gave us the inspiration to work on another model with a higher price point, and it all kind of went from there and now we have five collections, working on a sixth, and it’s going quite strongly.
So, who came up with the name Uniform Wares and what does it represent?
Uniform Wares kind of represents a uniform for everyday, combined with products, all different things you could do every day, but now that we just do watches it kind of like a nice play on words.
The 100 series was the first watch you created, was it a long process?
We started work on it late autumn 2008, we launched the following December, so it took a period of about 16 months to develop. Then obviously we had to set up the website and all the other things that go along with setting up a brand, and then working out when to launch. It wasn’t just the watch; we had to launch the brand, so it had to be strong and it took a while, at the moment it takes about 6-7 months per model, but the ideas could come a year to 18 months in advance, we are working on stuff now for like late 2013 early 14.
So obviously your watches are refined, stripped down minimalist and have no logo on the face of the watch…what was kind of the whole thought process behind this?
If you relate it to clothing, the best brands in the world they sell on the design, cut and the materials, so why can’t you do it with watches… it was as simple as that, at the time looking at the watches out there we were thinking why are they so fussy there’s no need to be so fussy. We can understand like with our chronograph, the emphasis is on the movement, there are functions, things that are happening, and you can use it as a stopwatch if you want, but it’s only the attentions that are there, and that is something we will carry through with all the models regardless of whether they look minimal or not everything has to have a reason.
In terms of colour, obviously there aren’t lots of different colours, but I really like the colours you have chosen, it looks like you have sat with a pantone book for weeks, how did you come about selecting each one?
The balance really, between the engineered finishes that you get with the coatings. The dial work is also really where it brings the watch to life where you have to balance the legibility of it, the aesthetics, the materials like for example with the chronograph we had these samples go to the factory and come back four of five times, It takes quite a while to get it spot on.
Especially like the 200 series when we first designed those, we were referencing objects that exist in engineering, and sometimes the simplest colour schemes that are used in things like engineering just tend to work, so people recognise these pieces and colours and it just visually works. I mean we do spend hours on Illustrator aswell though!
What influences do you have on the design process, we have spoke about architecture but I mean I always think of brands like Apple, like stripped down, minimalist, what things outside of the watch market?
We come from a furniture background, so all kinds of objects in the home, also the types of finishes that you can achieve from certain processes we can get inspired by that. You might want to make a dial of a watch in a certain way because you have seen it applied to a lamp or something like that, the process of how we can use that.
You’re a fairly new brand, what’s the vision for Uniform Wares?
We want to be the leading British watch brand and to create the most beautiful quartz watches in the market, I think that’s an important thing as I think there are plenty of beautiful automatics watches out there, but it’s a bit thin on the ground when it comes to quartz… As long as we stay true to the aesthetic we have developed and are still developing, it’s starting to make sense in our head and designs are getting easier and easier and we are getting more exciting for what we want to get out of it.
In terms of colour, one of my favourite artists is Josef Albers, who used to purely focus on colours I like the idea of collaborating with an artist that kind of works purely with colour rather than doing the usual thing of collaborating with a clothing brand, what are your thoughts?
We are kind of reluctant to do collaborations with another brand because we have such strength in our own brand. We would rather work with other creative people on a completely separate project. I think it’s definitely more interesting to go down those routes like you said with ‘Josef Albers’ than that of clothing labels, as they can seem a little boring, and limited and not creative enough! We have a typographer that we are working with on a set of numbers, and he is incredible at it, and you know, it would be great to have our own set of numbers someday soon.
Who is the typical Uniform Wares customer, if you have one?
We don’t really have a typical customer, as the watches really do appeal to a wide demographic, I guess the demographic gets more focused based on the different models, with like the chronographs appealing to a gent. It’s nice to see all different types of people, different age brackets wearing our watches.
And finally, could you sum your brand up for me in one sentence?
British designed contemporary timepieces, with timepieces ranging from the affordable to the aspirational.
With a market littered full of watches from the big European design houses, it’s nice to see a brand just ‘doing their thing’ and by the looks of it really enjoying the whole process. It was also really nice to see how both of them were so passionate about the brand, timepieces, design, menswear and I could go on…Anyway a big thank you to all at Uniform Wares and especially Patrick and Oliver for taking some time out to be interviewed, I personally wish them the best of luck for the future, but to be honest I don’t think they need it!
If you want to find out more about Uniform Wares or where they are stocked then visit their website at: www.uniformwares.com