Victoria Guthrie talks wristwear with Rebecca Struthers of Struthers London
We had the exciting opportunity of speaking with Rebecca Struthers, one half of Struthers London, British watchmaking husband and wife team known for their award-winning designs. Struthers have combined forces with Morgan Motor Company to create the ultimate bespoke watches tailored to reflect the values of this classic car company; the epitome of British classic car designage.
Rebecca and Craig had been fans of Morgan for many years but it was a chance encounter with Charles Morgan at the Birmingham Made Me Expo 2013 that started the ball rolling with their collaboration. ‘We attended the Midland automotive seminar day and saw Charles present a talk on the Morgan brand, heritage and design ethos,’ said Rebecca. ‘As an emerging business we really admired the Morgan style looking at designing instant classics and reworking traditional designs with contemporary technology to create modern luxury.
We actually found Charles’ talk so inspiring that we decided to design a watch based around Morgan’s design heritage. I decided to be a bit cheeky and let them know what we were planning on doing. Morgan’s Head of Design, Jon Wells, asked to meet with us and found the concept exciting enough to ask us to make the collaboration official, and the rest is history!’
Rebecca started training as a jeweller and silversmith at the age of 17, when she discovered horology and started a course at the School of Jewellery where she was already training. In 2005 Rebecca started studying the joint HND and British Horological Institute courses and hasn’t looked back since. ‘I have always found myself in the difficult spot of having an equal love of the arts as I have of science,’ she explained, ‘and there are very few subjects that have a mutual respect for both. Horologists get to play the role of both artist and engineer.’
Rebecca now works with her husband Craig, master watchmaker, who has spent years learning from some of the greatest antique and vintage restorers and even completed an apprenticeship with a veteran chronometer maker for Mercer. The duo are passionate about combining contemporary design with traditional watchmaking skills and after deciding they wanted to o to do things their way, ‘Craig and I have very different skill sets so we never tread on each other’s toes, plus being self-employed leaves you working so many hours if you weren’t married to your business partner you’d never get to see them.
We both hit a point in our careers back in 2012 when we wanted to make a break and do things our own way. We’d gathered quite a bit of experience working in different elements of the industry by this point and had the skills to set up our own business.’
Struthers is known for combining contemporary design and technology with traditional skills which really sets the, apart from other watchmakers. Rebecca says that a well-made case should be a beautiful thing on its own, and the aim is to introduce an equally beautiful movement to it. ‘A lot of manufacturers focus solely on movements and use a lot of modern technology. We have created a balance between the two by using really traditional techniques like joint making, burnishing and forging alongside modern Computer Aided Design (CAD) and rapid prototyping.’
Rebecca was taught by a master goldsmith for the first two years of her training and his outlook inspires the way she works to this very day: ‘I remember preparing to make a brooch I’d designed in base metal – as a young student I couldn’t afford gold – but he wouldn’t let me. He told me that if I was going to go to all the effort of designing and making something beautiful with my own hands I should chose a metal that respects that, the metal needs to be equal to the love and time that goes into everything you make which is why to this day we only ever work in precious metals.’
Rebecca and Craig entered the Morgan collaboration in the knowledge that their last partner was the Swiss watch giant Hublot. They set out to design something that founder Henry Morgan would have been proud of. It was important to respect the Morgan hand-built production techniques and locally sourced suppliers. The duo tried to mirror the Morgan brand in every last detail of their watch so that even without the Morgan logo on the dial you could hold it beside a 4/4 or Plus 8 and see the synergies. Craig favours the period of watchmaking around the same time at The Morgan Motor Company was founded in 1909 – the earliest commercial wristwatches which are referred to ‘trench’ in style. ‘It was a fortunate coincidence that we had a genuine love of the style of watches which would have been worn by the first Morgan owners,’ explained Rebecca.
‘Every watch is hand built to order and customised to our client’s requirements and takes three months to make from start to finish. At the point of order we agree the dial combinations, crown types, movement style, case metal, lugs, straps and so on. From there we work with our network of local craftspeople to commission bespoke leather work and box making while we build the watch.’ Clients are invited to the Struthers studio to go through samples and see their watch in progress and each is updated with emails and photographs directly from the bench which makes the process of buying and owning a Morgan for Struthers watch is more than just a purchase, it makes it an experience. ‘Our buyers like to know they have invested their money in home grown talent, supporting local craftspeople and preserving traditional industries.’
With so many watches available it is no wonder that many are looking for something a little more unusual and Struthers for Morgan certainly hits the spot.
If you want to commission your own Struthers for Morgan watch you can register your interest on the Morgan Motor Company website at www.morgan-motor.co.uk/strutherslondon.php