How could we do this and still keep within the Grovemade product vocabulary? We started with what we had— we kept the case design, straps, buckles, and exterior dimensions identical. This simplified engineering and ensured a close visual and physical relationship between our two watches. With that in place, we could start to improvise within the form. As with the Wood Watch 01, we worked in collaboration with former Nike watch designer Stefan Andrén.
"The Watch 02 is the natural evolution of the original design; the same simple, iconic lines with a bold material selection."
"I remembered from back in the day that Joe (Mansfield, Grovemade Co-founder) and I used to talk about how, when you scoop out wood with a CNC, the grain that’s left is really beautiful."
This allowed us to showcase the flow of interesting grain patterns revealed when you carve a three-dimensional sphere into wood. To really drive this design, we worked backwards from the existing dimensions and re-engineered the interior to shave off precious millimeters of space and get the deepest possible wood dish to fit.
"The three-dimensional dial face is what ties the whole watch together and makes it stand out."
"I had no idea that, at the higher levels of design, there are specialists that design exclusively dial faces. Stefan is such a good watch designer; I couldn’t believe he insisted his friend was even better at these details."
Once we narrowed the options we liked, Sean took the illustrated prototypes and turned them into physical, three-dimensional objects. We CNC-milled wooden dishes and Sean used the laser cutter to make different hands and resin lenses, varying tick mark density, size, and location.
"When you move from digital to physical, it proves that you can make it. If you can make one, you can make a thousand."
The next step was manufacturing. The watch is the only item we manufacture outside of the USA. The complexity of watch manufacturing is immense compared to the other products we make. To make watches in our Portland workshop would take a huge capital investment to build out a dedicated facility for handling the precise manufacturing needs. It’s not something feasible for a company of our size – in fact, there are almost no factories in the US that build an entire watch. At most, they assemble parts that are machined or built in Asia or Europe. If we tried to tackle the whole process ourselves, the product would undoubtedly suffer. We’d be amateurs, getting into a game against specialists. We wanted to create something really well made, and so overseas made sense.
Why did it take so long to figure this out? It’s mostly because the watch industry works via a complex network of contractors and subcontractors, getting more and more specialized as you go down. The factory we work with assembles the watches, but they don’t make the hands, or the movement, or the other individual pieces. There’s a long chain of communication that can slow things down considerably. None of this is to say that there were any real issues with the factory — it’s more a testament to the difficulties of manufacturing overseas, especially for something as specialized as a watch. We’ve been working with this factory in China since building our first watch, and have been very happy with the results. But three months feels like an eternity when you’re used to walking 20 steps to the shop and building it yourself.
Once we heard about the issue with the second hand, we went back and forth for another couple of months before Sean finally solved the problem, switching the hand to extend symmetrically across the whole length of the dish bottom.