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“It’s like an instrument that you put together”

To celebrate our exclusive launch of the Instrmnt 01 watch, we spoke to its creators about the design process, why it’s made to be assembled by the wearer and their hugely successful crowdfunding campaign.

Instrmnt 01 is a new unisex collection of minimalist wristwatches by Scottish designers Pete Sunderland, 22, and Ross Baynham, 24, who met while studying at Glasgow Caledonian University.

“Instrmnt 01 really did come from us saying “I love this watch but I hate X about it”, so it was almost selfish,” Baynham said. “We thought, ‘we’re designers, we love watches, why don’t we make the watch that we want to wear?’ Why don’t we make the watch that is perfect for us?'”

Instrmnt 01 is available in three colour combinations

This image: Instrmnt 01 is available in three colour combinations – top image: Instrmnt founders Pete Sunderland (left) and Ross Baynham (right)

Knowing that they were unlikely to get the startup capital they needed from the bank, the pair started a crowdfunding campaign on Kickstater. They beat their original funding goal nearly five times over.

“Personally, I thought Kickstarter would detract from the value of the brand, but actually it’s totally been the opposite,” Sunderland said. “It has added so much value. It was amazing, we were completely wrong about it.”

Instrmnt 01 is designed to be easily assembled and comes with a tool

Instrmnt 01 is designed to be easily assembled and comes with a tool

Although the crowdfunding prcoess went better than expected, it wasn’t as easy at it may have appeared according to Baynham. Large amounts of time and money had already been invested in the early stages of the project to get it to a stage where the Kickstarter community could see it as a real product.

“You need to have a manufacturer lined up, you need samples that have been tested and are working,” he said. “I think that’s where a lot of people fail, so we decided to have it ready at that point when we started.”

Available in brushed/black, gunmental/tan, and rose gold/brown, the stripped-back aesthetic of the Instrmnt 01 is influenced by industrial designs from the mid 20th century.

“It comes from amp meters, volt meters and their dials. We love them and collect them,” said Baynham. “The watch comes ‘exploded’ so you get pins, the casing, strap parts and a tool, which are nicely laid out. It’s like an instrument that you put together.”

Despite being warned off launching an analogue watch by one of their university lecturers, the duo set about creating a lifestyle item that they would wear themselves, rather something that is purely built as a piece of technology.

Instrmnt 01 features a stripped-back white face and curved lugs

Instrmnt 01 features a stripped-back white face and curved lugs

“Perhaps people don’t always want something like the Apple Watch, maybe they want a piece of art more than something you take to the gym,” Baynham said.

“If you can make something look really beautiful and give it a presence, then people are going to buy it,” Sunderland added.

Here is an edited transcript of the interview:


How did you first meet?

Pete Sunderland: We met at Glasgow Caledonian University. We both really loved minimalist, stripped back things, then Ross came to me six months after we finished and asked if I wanted to do something. He already ran a menswear website called Harrison & Fyfe.

Ross Baynham: Pete studied product design and I studied graphic design. It turned out that both of our skills merged quite well into a fashion product that we could brand strongly.

What was your working relationship like before launching Instrmnt 01?

Pete Sunderland: We had a studio at university, where we sat besides each other. We’d show each other products and say “Have you seen this, etc.”, so we were constantly firing ideas across to each other.

This meant that we knew we were on the same page and could possibly work together. There were three courses in our studio, which was quite good for sparking off ideas, but we were most closely aligned in what we were going to do.

How long did the design process take?

Ross Baynham: It started as a side project six months after uni, when Pete was working freelance and I was working for a design practice in Glasgow called O Street. I was also running Harrison & Fyfe where we sold a lot of watches, so I thought Pete and I could do it ourselves. About seven months after that, we got it onto Kickstarter.

Instrmnt contains a Rhonda 585 Swiss movement

Instrmnt 01 contains a Rhonda 585 Swiss movement

What research did you have to do about watch mechanics before starting on design concepts?

Pete Sunderland: There’s a really good website called Watchuseek, which has a lot of articles about people trying to get their own thing off the ground. When we started out, we wanted to take a component that’s tried and trusted – like the movement that’s in this watch, the Rhonda 585 (read our guide to watch movements here) – and add value by building something around it.

Ross Baynham: We knew a fair amount about watches but ended up finding out a lot more through internet research and talking to others. Because we trusted the Rhonda component to tell the time and date, we got to focus purely on the design, which is quite exciting. Over the last year we’ve learnt a lot about horology, which is an added bonus because we’re designers, not watchmakers.

Why did you think Kickstarter was the best way to fund it?

Ross Baynham: We were both apprehensive about Kickstarter. We thought people would shy away from the campaign.

Pete Sunderland: Personally, I thought Kickstarter would detract from the value of the brand, but actually it’s totally been the opposite. It has added so much value. It was amazing, we were completely wrong about it.

Ross Baynham: Everyone seemed really keen that we’d raised quite a lot of money from it. All of these cool places that we really loved started to get in touch, , like MoMA in New York. It was only afterwards that we thought crowdfunding was a fantastic idea – there’s not a chance in hell that we would have got £93,000 from the bank.

Instrmnt 01 in gunmetal/tan

Instrmnt 01 in gunmetal/tan

What advice would you give to anyone else that is considering launching a crowdfunding campaign?

Ross Baynham: If you’re taking something to Kickstarter, it can’t be at the first stage where you haven’t done any work or invested any money. A lot of people seem to think you can just describe something and say you’re going to do it. But, if you’re making a watch, you will need to spend thousands of pounds and be at the point where you’ve worked on it for months.

You need to have a manufacturer lined up, you need samples that have been tested and work. I think that’s where a lot of people fail, so we decided to have it ready at that point when we started. The other thing that we learned was that you should strip it back. Don’t confuse things with extra rewards and incentives.

Pete Sunderland: It’s a massively time consuming task. You have to reply to every person who pledges and keep them in the loop.

Ross Baynham: When you’re dealing with about 1000 people, it’s a really hard thing to do. We’re spending our whole day doing that rather than making watches. If yours goes a bit viral then you need to be ready for that and have a team in place. It was just the two of us.

Why did you choose a watch as your first collaboration?

Ross Baynham: We both love watches. Instrmnt 01 really did come from us saying “I love this watch but I hate X about it”, so it was almost selfish. We thought, ‘we’re designers, we love watches, why don’t we make the watch that we want to wear?’ Why don’t we make the watch that is perfect for us?’

Pete Sunderland: I went to one of my lecturers with a prototype and said “we’re going to design this watch”.He replied “what’s so special about it?” because it’s really simple and stripped back. Then he said “why haven’t you done something like the Apple Watch?”, but I think people just want a desirable item. If you can make something look really beautiful and give it a presence, then people are going to buy it.

Instrmnt 01 is designed to suit men or women

Instrmnt 01 is designed to suit men or women

Do you think there an assumption that young designers wouldn’t want to create an analogue watch?

Pete Sunderland: I think it was a misunderstood idea and a generational thing. 

Ross Baynham: Maybe they didn’t understand why people would want something analogue. But perhaps people don’t always want something like the Apple Watch, maybe they want a piece of art rather than something you take to the gym.

How do you think traditional watches will compete against smartwatches like the Apple Watch?

Pete Sunderland: I think our watch is a lifestyle item, while something like the Apple Watch is purely technological.

Ross Baynham: The Apple Watch is an amazing product, but it clashes in fashion settings. When it came out, a lot of people said to us “It’s cool, but I’d rather wear your watch when I go out”, which is nice to hear. Watches have been around for hundreds of years, so the market still has life in it.

What were the main inspirations behind the design of Instrmnt 01?

Ross Baynham: It comes from amp meters, volt meters and their dials. We love them and collect them.

Pete Sunderland: I just love the sparseness of them, the white space and numbers that start 00, 01, 02… We also wanted a really nice carved lug, which took a long time.

Ross Baynham: If you look at the watch head-on, the lug looks straight, but as you turn it to the side, you see a Bézier curve that’s at a very exact degree we decided on over a long period of time. We liked that idea of doing it in a way that was almost mathematical. We think it turned out nicely weighted.

What separates Instrmnt 01 from other watches in the market?

Pete Sunderland: Our main sticking point is the lugs of the watch, we spent a lot of time on that – the face and the body taper to the strap. We’d look at a lot of other watches and question what they did with theirs. It would be an absolutely beautiful watch and they’d just jam it together with a strap.

Ross Baynham: Our packaging is very minimalist, it’s made of clay paper and is about the size of a DVD box. The watch comes ‘exploded’ so you get pins, the casing, straps and a tool, which are nicely laid out. It all came from those practical points and thoughts about how we could make it practicality stylish. It’s like an instrument that you put together.

Pete Sunderland: It ties into the idea of being really minimal, but also stylish and slick. There were a few ideas behind the DVD-sized box. People like to keep boxes, so you could put this on your shelf alongside your DVDs. We were also thinking about whether we could put this through someone’s door – it’s annoying when you miss parcels.

Instrmnt 01 comes with a premium leather strap

Instrmnt 01 comes with a premium leather strap

What manufacturers are you working with on the materials?

Ross Baynham: We’re working with Ashdown Workshop on our leather straps (read the Dezeen Watch Store guide to straps), they’re really good guys. They were a brand on Harrison & Fyfe that I knew really well.

One of their wallets is our bestseller, so when we thought about the watch we decided to do a premium strap. They said they’ve never done one but they did a great job.

Ross Baynham: Finding the perfect manufacturer took us so long. We must have sent hundreds, maybe thousands, of emails to different people, but we knew we nailed it when we found this supplier.

Instrmnt 01 in brushed/black

Instrmnt 01 in brushed/black

Can you tell me more about Harrison & Fyfe and how that has helped with the watch launch?

Ross Baynham: Towards the end of university I was interested in luxury accessories by independent brands. The kind of ones you wouldn’t find in Urban Outfitters or places like that. I launched the site with a business partner in London as a collection of labels that we loved. If I hadn’t done that, we probably wouldn’t be sitting here right now.

Pete Sunderland: That brought a lot of context. Ross would say “Have you seen this brand and this amazing leatherwork?” There’s nothing better than looking at a nicely curated pile of stuff.

Ross Baynham: I gained some great contacts as we stocked some of the same brands you sell at Dezeen Watch Store, like Daniel Wellington and Uniform Wares. We got to know people and I thought ‘wait a minute, maybe this isn’t difficult as it first seems.’

Pete Sunderland: Us working together is a really good thing because I don’t think we could have done it on our own. We’ve both got our good and bad points, so I kind of bounce off that.

What separates Instrmnt 01 from other watches in the market?

Pete Sunderland: Our main sticking point is the lugs of the watch, we spent a lot of time on that – the face and the body taper to the strap. We’d look at a lot of other watches and question what they did with theirs. It would be an absolutely beautiful watch and they’d just jam it together with a strap.

Ross Baynham: Our packaging is very minimalist, it’s made of clay paper and is about the size of a DVD box. The watch comes ‘exploded’ so you get pins, the casing, straps and a tool, which are nicely laid out. It all came from those practical points and thoughts about how we could make it practicality stylish. It’s like an instrument that you put together.

Pete Sunderland: It ties into the idea of being really minimal, but also stylish and slick. There were a few ideas behind the DVD-sized box. People like to keep boxes, so you could put this on your shelf alongside your DVDs. We were also thinking about whether we could put this through someone’s door – it’s annoying when you miss parcels.

What’s next for Instrmnt?

Pete Sunderland: There will be a limited edition all-black version of Instrmnt 01 coming out before Christmas. We’re also hoping to do a few collaborations with creatives around Glasgow, maybe involving university students.

Will Instrmnt make anything else besides watches?

Pete Sunderland: Yeah, that’s always been the idea. We’d like to do products and consulting but we’ve left it quite open, so who knows?

Buy the Instrmnt 01 »