Building a Watch Company - Consistency + Innovation = Progress

Building a Watch Company - Consistency + Innovation = Progress

Do you ever get that feeling when you look at the calendar and realize a few months have gone by and you think, “What did I actually do during this time?”
Other times, you glance at the calendar baffled, wondering how you could have done so many things in just a few weeks. They say time flies when you’re having fun. We can’t speak to the truth or falseness of this statement, but we can assure you time does fly when you’re doing new and different things. 

If you’ve been keeping up with our journey as we move facilities and begin season 2 of Custer & Wolfe, you know it’s been a long journey to say the least. Many hurdles have risen up in our path that we’ve had to overcome, but we’re finally proud to say — we survived

We did it! We’re bringing you this episode of Custer & Wolfe without those stinky chairs you’ve been having to look at, and we are comfortably operating in our new building. It’s inspiring to watch the entire team adjust and excel as we’ve powered through this transition. We really do feel such immense pride for all of the hardworking employees we have here, and we’re thankful for the consistency they bring with them to work every day. It is this consistency that has allowed us to progress at the rate we have, and we’re excited to share with you what’s going on within the company. 

custer and wolfe behind the scenes

We believe in our company, and we believe in the people here. 

What’s Tyler Been Up To?

Even with all the change that’s been going on in the company, Tyler has been hard at work in the machine room. In the last episode, he talked about some new designs and the progress he’s making on the Military Edition watches. Let’s check in and see how it’s going down there.

 “I've been working on the cases, bezel, and case backs these past two weeks. All the computer work is done. I would say the V3 system that the military is based on is working. You know, it's more to do with the back end — the fixturing, the process — than anything else. It's absolutely going to be our coolest and best-quality Military Edition ever. It's cool to see that come together on schedule.” - Tyler Wolfe

You read that right — getting things out on schedule is something we do now! Who knew we were capable of such excellence?

In addition to working on the 2022 Military Edition, Tyler is also working on our new line of modern watches. The mechanical design is spearheaded by Sky, one of our many hardworking employees. 

Tyler working with Sky

“I'm excited — you know, we have a lot more freedom with that new, yet-to-be-released watch because we're not just kind of designing around the ability to change and modify the case for all these different pocket watch movements. We're not getting surprised by anything. We've got FTS — Fine Timepiece Solutions. There's just a lot more freedom because of the size of the movement, you know? It’s kind of nice to just optimize things and not only be concerned about making a pocket watch work inside of it.” - Tyler Wolfe

R.T. mentioned how it would be convenient if we could just call up someone who worked at Hamilton and ask them questions. However, seeing as they were making these timepieces almost 100 years ago, we aren’t so lucky. Thankfully, Tyler expanded on what he was talking about.

“Specifically, the things that I'm talking about are the setting mechanism in a pocket watch, which is a lot different than a modern watch. The setting mechanism was in the pocket watch cases themselves, so we've had to do a lot of engineering to get all that stuff to fit in here and work with the wristwatch. The movements are different heights, the dials are different heights, different hands, different everything all the time. That's why the watches that we make for Vortic are so cool and so unique and why I think it's been successful.” - Tyler Wolfe 

This led us to talk about why these early stages of developing a new product are so important. We can never hope to execute the future of this brand the way we want to if we do not achieve operational excellence, and that process starts at the very beginning with design. 

A Separate Process

The goal of perfecting a new product is not to sacrifice quality — it’s actually the opposite. We want to improve our quality with every new watch we make while also maintaining a level of consistency and automation that makes the process easy for us to rinse and repeat without breaking our backs each time. 

Tyler mentioned how even though it may be a work in progress, we are setting a very strong foundation for ourselves by spending as much time as we have on design. R.T. then chimed in on how our process separates us from our biggest competitors. 

“I think the other cool thing that separates us in this process from a lot of people that I've had this conversation with is we're not designing for manufacturers. A lot of people hire a designer — hire an engineer — and then send those designs to China or somewhere else. And then the manufacturing company sends them back and says, ‘Hey, you have to change this, this, and this. Then we'll be able to make a thousand of them.’” R.T. Custer 

vortic watch parts - multiples

When you design for the manufacturer, you lose the ability to have a hand or say in the process at all. You essentially give over the blueprint to your product and trust that the manufacturer will do a satisfactory job. Vortic does things differently.

“We're doing almost all of it in-house. So, you can walk into the assembly room and say, ‘Hey, Derek, if we make the crown like this, or if we make the set … like this — If we're trying to figure out how to assemble this watch like this, does that work, or is that going to be a total mess?’ The ability to have those conversations and design for an in-house manufacturer and just have control over that whole process is unique. It will also just set us apart in the long run because it's more excellent. It's more sustainable.” - R.T. Custer

How’s The Sign Saga Going, R.T.?

City planning is always going to be very bureaucratic, and we understand that — even if we got a little bit frustrated over this whole sign debacle. After filling out paperwork and navigating through the variance process with the city, we had to state why our big sign was perfect for our business and why the city should allow us to hang it. 

The worst part of this whole process? Seeing the new sparkling sign just sitting there collecting dust while we wait for the zoning commission to get back to us and approve or deny our request. 

“If they approve us, then we hang the sign — it's done. If they don't, then we can file another petition, ask again for variance and go to the city council — one step up. Hopefully, we don't have to, but that's the plan, and we’re following the process and trying not to say, ‘... The previous sign on the building was twice as big as this one.’ That doesn't mean it's okay. Hopefully, though, it justifies why we thought we could build this big sign.” - R.T. Custer

We promise to keep you updated as the sign debacle continues to give us headaches, so you always know what the latest news is. We’re planning to post pictures of the new sign once it's up, so stay tuned for that!

Email Marketing and Embracing Change

Military watches and new lathe machines aren’t the only things going on within the company, however. R.T. sheds a light on what’s going on in the marketing side of the business: 

“One thing that we are changing is the email platform that we use. Really, we've grown Vortic through email marketing predominantly, and we're switching from Campaign Monitor to Klaviyo for a number of reasons. Shopify, who we used for the website, made a strategic investment in Klaviyo, the email software platform. They invested a hundred million dollars into Klaviyo. Suffice it to say that Shopify clearly has a lot of confidence in Klaviyo and that partnership. They haven't shown that kind of confidence in any other email marketing platform like HubSpot or any of that kind of stuff.” - R.T. Custer

If you’ve ever had to use a new program to perform your work duties, you likely understand how jarring that switch can be. Things are smoother and easier when you’re using the same system you’ve used for years, so it takes some getting used to when your whole marketing system changes hands.

r.t. email marketing

“Many other entrepreneurs have told us, ‘Hey, if you're selling physical products online, Shopify is the best website tool, and Klaviyo is the best email tool.’ I've just been hesitant to change because it's so easy to use something that you know, but we're in the process of figuring out how to make the switch without harming the data or harming the domain. There are a lot of things that can go wrong with that level of technicality.” - R.T. Custer

Vortic evolves as time progresses. We promise to keep you informed on every front of the company. We want you to be a part of every step of the process, from publicity and promotion to the back-end machinery.

If you've made it this far, we hope you're enjoying Season 2 of Building a Watch Company. We're so excited for you to experience what's in store. Please join us again next week!

Check Out Our Instagram and YouTube Channel for More Vortic Content

We want to mention again how outstanding our team is. Without their constant dedication to their craft, we would never be where we are today. Thank you to every member of our team who makes this dream possible!

Progress keeps trucking along, even when things feel stagnant — or city hall puts a roadblock in your path to keep you from hanging your beautiful sign! 

We also want to extend a warm thank you to everyone who has purchased a watch in the last two months. We couldn’t do this without your support. 

At Vortic Watch Company, we don’t just make watches, we restore pieces of history. Vortic takes timeless, antique pocket watches and reimagines them as incredible, one-of-a-kind wristwatches. Check out our Instagram to see our featured watch of the day, and make sure to subscribe to our newsletter to get email notifications. Our watches don’t stick around for long! 

Subscribing to Custer & Wolfe's YouTube channel will keep you informed on all things Vortic. There, we'll share everything that's happening with us, including our warehouse growth, production process, and ideas for creating an impactful business!

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