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Tricky things, collaborations.
We've always set our sights on working both philanthropically and emotionally with organisations and people who share our spirit, whose product or service resonates, is best of breed and who share the same vibe. We're protective of our brand and what it stands for, and we put ourselves in your shoes to ask the awkward questions of ourselves. It's about making the right call.. always It's because you are everything we have so it's important we tread carefully and this is a biggie.
Back in 2017 we decided to contact a senior exec at JLR (Jaguar Land Rover), just picked up the phone, bold as brass, because we figured they make go-anywhere do-anything vehicles and we make the watch equivalent. The timing couldn't have been worse, they'd just launched a brand new range of watches that very week. Bum.
We put the phone down deflated. The conversation was easy though and ended with a promise to hook up a couple of years later. Two years - it felt like eternity. So we put our heads down, time literally does fly when you're us and those two years went by in a flash. We chalked up a few more significant moments that would, as it turns out, elevate our gravitas when THE conversation eventually happened.
Fast forward to last summer, a fortuitous call went something like, I'm coming past Coventry with a case of samples, would you like me to pop by... yes.
We met two of the loveliest, passionate people; we pored over watch models, had a good show and tell about the magic that lies inside them, how we go about things in an almost polar opposite way to the rest of the industry and shared stories of watches surviving beyond the odds on round the world journeys mounted to the bows of Clipper 70' Yachts and hinted at some of the military testing the Holton had endured prior to being issued as a piece of specialist military equipment.
There was a proper meeting of minds and a strong desire by the JLR team to create fit for purpose equipment as proven by the recently signed deal with Musto clothing. It felt natural, it was easy to just chat, they showed us around their classic workshop and their incredible 'behind closed doors' vehicle collection. The enthusiasm to work together was mutual and natural. There was human chemistry.
Ian called Alex from the car, conversation was frenetic, trying to relay the meeting points all at once. "I think I've just walked out of one of the best meetings we've ever had".
The JLR team rocked up to our boatyard office on Poole Harbour and the easy conversation continued. We shared thoughts, signed agreements and jointly commenced design work to see whose ideas would stick. If they had an idea we liked we'd say; if we had an idea they liked they'd say. There was no ego. We met again, the design developed further, the changes became smaller. It was almost too easy, surely working with one of the worlds most iconic brands should be way harder?
We soon had the ONE, it had all the hallmarks of one our best watch designs and we were all happy - still 100% 'Elliot Brown' but also very Land Rover and totally authentic. We trusted in the other's skills and abilities during the whole process with respect and dignity. We pulled cues from the Defender's design and together managed to include a few lovely, subtle if you know, you know details that we had jointly set as an ambition.
The watch has gained a JLR part number, commercial terms have been agreed, orders placed and here we are, telling you about a collaboration that feels completely natural yet puts us onto one of the worlds biggest stages.
It might change your perception of us a little but we won't be changing how we operate, how we treat you nor who we are; just down to earth folk who love what we do, live for the water and the outdoors and feel very lucky to work with great people and live in such a beautiful part of the UK.
The watches are available at JLR showrooms and online from Land Rover. The watch is the hero product in their Above and Beyond collection and you'll be able to order one whilst speccing a new Defender which, by the way, is quite a thing.
The launch came about early because of our timing partnership with Team Exe Endurow, a team of 4 who set off to row the entire UK coastline of 2,000 miles from Tower Bridge on July 5th 2020. The team are raising money for the Red Cross and JustOneOcean and with Land Rovers' strong connection with the Red Cross, the opportunity to launch the team's boat using a new Defender and to jointly promote their record breaking attempt and fundraising profile was too good to pass-up.
A 3am start, two closed roads en route and some traffic free motorway miles put us in the docks in East London at 6.30am. We were straight onto applying decals to the defender towing the boat, the photographer and videographer got to work, created their magic and with just a smidge of "winging it", the launch video came together nicely thanks to Leon and Harrison from Flat Out Creative.
So today is a proud day. 7 and a bit years since we set up Elliot Brown, we're collaborating with Mountain Rescue England & Wales, the RNLI, highly regarded branches of the UK armed forces, we've been the timing partner of the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race (twice), we've gifted large chunks of turnover to charity because it's nice to be nice and now, now we've added Land Rover to the list of collaborations this brand of ours has achieved.
Aim high people, aim high.