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"We started with a blank sheet that gave us the freedom to imagine just how good we could make a watch. No corporate restrictions, no preconceptions, armed with the unique skills needed to build the most naturally durable watches on the planet - no corners cut, every detail built up to a standard, not down to a price".
They are values that sit firmly behind every timepiece the company makes and give an insight as to how the brand has earned such respected collaborations with an impressive array of organisations and retail businesses including the RNLI, the Armed Forces, Mountain Rescue England & Wales, government agencies and blue light services.
The business was conceived by working late nights and weekends for two and a half years until they were ready to throw off their career comfort blankets and open the doors to Elliot Brown in 2013. Elliot Brown’s raison d’etre is to make the absolute best of breed watches, that exceed expectations, that are 100% fit for purpose, who’s stories of survival and real world testing are honest and genuine.
It’s not easy, it takes time to build an idea into a business this way, it’s the work of fanatical attention to detail. But once you’ve made watches of such calibre, their stories and feats start to gain their own momentum and the brand becomes a ‘thing’.
It’s been a natural process, it can’t be rushed, nor can it be bought by a marketing department or a paid celebrity endorsement. Of course we do enjoy relationships with very well known personalities who we’re lucky enough to call our friends, but all choose to wear Elliot Brown because of it’s capabilities and how they perform, discreetly every day. It’s real, hard won loyalty, it’s felt by all of our customers too and it forms the bedrock of the business.
Every collection has it’s own unique Dorset reference story and occupies a niche within the Elliot Brown stable such as the Kimmeridge named after Kimmeridge Bay where time on the water and waves has been enjoyed by the founders for many years.
The mix of style, quality and every day utility is a powerful combination that’s so effortless to wear for any occasion or activity with none of the anxiety normally associated with desirable watches. It’s a unique mix the brand has become synonymous with.
Ian Elliot and Alex Brown live and breathe a coastal, outdoor lifestyle where salt water, sand, mud and harsh knocks place huge demands on watches.
This natural playground sparks a process of continual re-development, ideas for new features and functional enhancements that make every Elliot Brown watch such a pleasure to use and own. Alex and Ian share a mildly obsessive nature that stems from a collective engineering background – Alex’s from the world of mechanics and horology, Ian’s from part completion of an engineering degree that was mostly spent surfing, windsurfing, mountain biking or doing anything that didn’t require advanced thermodynamics! Ian went on to develop a hook, loop and webbing watchstrap that turned into a business called Animal, whilst Alex was studying and gaining experience as a highly qualified horologist.
The two met when Animal ventured into stainless steel watches and needed expert help to develop, service and run a successful watch department at which point Alex famously turned down a job offer with Cartier in favour of a coastal lifestyle in an idyllic part of the world.
The ‘EB’ headquarters is in a working boat yard bordering Poole Harbour complete with bar and restaurant on the water’s edge, Lake Yard Club. You’ll often see boards and bikes outside or in the office and being part of a working yard suits the business perfectly. It's a great destination for customers who visit to be shown the collections personally by the founders, possibly the odd new sample that’s still under wraps and to enjoy some social time by the water.
Elliot Brown has grown in many ways, more collections, more styles, more choice, a larger retail network. One unexpected aspect of the business that’s particularly close to the hearts of the founders is their not inconsiderable contributions to numerous charities, some publicised and some not, that often come about as a result of special watch projects. A special edition watch is developed and sold to a private group, often requiring total confidentiality and upon completion, a large portion of sales revenue is handed back to a chosen charity along with very special one-off versions provided for auction.
The founders love nothing more than hunting out how to express specific stories in a project that can be told discreetly via special details and markings that are only know to that specific audience – if you know, you know - details that have become an ‘EB’ special project trademark. They all carry the kind of esprit de corps that does justice to an organisation and it’s people as opposed to simply slapping a logo on a dial and calling it special.
This is exactly how the Holton Professional collection came into existence – users of a special project watch requested a version for work. The rest is history.
So confident are the founders in the durability of their watches that they took a standard watch out of the box, mounted it to a Clipper ‘70 racing yacht using nothing more than it’s standard strap pins and sent it around the world for a year.
It returned with a few scars from ocean debris but kept perfect time and was unscathed by long term salt water exposure, millions of pressure and thermal shocks hitting every wave, hurricane force winds with 14m swells and extremes of temperature from the freezing icebergs of the Southern Ocean to the Tropics, all without the security and safety of a human wrist. A tougher test is hard to imagine. Watch the journey below and read about it here.