A Cottage Industry for Gentlemen
If you go down to the Sussex woods, you’re in for a big horological surprise. Ahead of 2015’s SalonQP, Riddle interviews Giles Ellis of Schofield Watches
Interview by John Galt Photography by Andy Barnham
Deep in the heart of the sleepy Sussex countryside is an unassuming building, well… more like a hut, which hides what can only be described as similar to an Aladdin’s cave in the size to a large shed. This though is the home of Giles Ellis, the founder and owner of Schofield Watch Company; once inside watch paraphernalia and treasures decorate every shelve, nook and cranny and gives you the feeling of a child in a sweet shop – you just don’t know what to look at first.
Schofield Watch Company has grown out of Giles’ frustration of not finding the perfect watch for himself so decided to make his own. The company has since grown to become a very niche English gentleman’s brand not just about watches but many accessories ranging from watch straps to wallets and much more. To give you an idea of Giles eccentricity, but with a very modern approach to design, Schofield produce watch straps in materials ranging from tradition tweed to red cricket ball leather but all can be coupled to his expanding watch lines (his next piece is released later this week at SalonQP in London). I was lucky enough recently to be able to sit down with Giles in his shed (office) to discuss the Schofield Watch Company from how far they have come in just a few years to the watch industry as a whole. But Giles being who he is, it was not the normal type of interview sitting stiffly answering questions waiting for it to be over, it was much more relaxed – the easiest way I can describe it is having a coffee with a good friend you hadn’t seen for a few years that is how amenable an enigmatic he is. So here is Giles of Schofield:
Did you envisage how well Schofield would be perceived when you started and having only launched a few years ago does it feel like a snowball effect that you can’t control?
It was totally unexpected – especially with my business model expecting three watches in year one, 25 watches year two, 100 watches year three. In reality, we sold 100 in eight months of debuting at Salon QP in 2011. And no we are quite in control……..!
How do you feel about company’s using the Made in Britain line and others jumping on the band wagon?
We will only use it if it is true, not for marketing purposes; our newest watch has Made in Germany on the dial much like the original Signalman. I don’t really care what other companies do frankly. We keep our heads down and focus on our work trying not to get embroiled in fads and fashion. The trend for made in Britain, is at this moment of time an exercise in marketing not a badge of honour.
Are you concerned with tech watches, i.e. Apple watch and the new Tag smart watch? Is there a place for them alongside traditional horology?
The only concern is the fight for wrist space. Otherwise there is little conflict because of cost, people will not wear something that is £500 when they own something for £4,000, and this is human nature.
Is new modern design behind every piece or do you look back to the past for inspiration?
Good design is good design, you can’t date it. I find inspiration everywhere every day.
If you knew back then what you know now would you still start Schofield?
Yes and no to be perfectly honest. For me it was not planned it was organic, because it was only supposed to be one watch, not hundreds.
Will you ever be truly satisfied or will you always strive for perfection with a watch and do you think that perfection can be achieved?
I am actually truly satisfied; I pat my own back for a job well done! However, I strive for perfection as perfection is in any new design.
Going forward what are the plans for Schofield, would you like them to become a big player in the market or stay as a niche gentlemen’s brand?
The latter always.
And lastly do you have any regrets?
Yes but none that I can tell you or especially print…….!!
Our thanks to Giles for his time and showing us round his Aladdin’s cave – I personally could have spent hours there.
Schofield Watch Company will be releasing their new piece at the Salon QP watch show at the Saatchi Gallery in London which starts this Thursday, Riddle will have the story of the new watch as soon as it is released.