Necessity is the Mother of Invention

On Monday I attended a lecture put on by the Horological Society of New York.  The lecture was delivered by independent watchmakers Richard (formerly of IWC) and Maria Habring who traveled from Austria to share their perspective on creating a fully integrated supply chain to develop an inhouse watch movement. 


  • Originally they used movements (the guts/heartbeat of a watch) from Swatch owned ETA.
  • In 2012, ETA cut them off from all movements and even the components to fix their prior models.
  • They had two choices, give up on their business or find a way to make their own movements. If they gave up, they would never be able to service prior customers.


  • Developed a new movement and all components to not only to service prior models but also build new models.


  • Intended: Saved business, serviced prior movements and built brand and credibility.
  • Unintended: Created a separate business to sell components to small watchmakers.


  • Back to basics as Richard said with a “keep it simple stupid” approach.
  • They stayed humble and consider themselves lucky that they were in the right place at the right time.
  • This is a four person company, so if you call them you have a 50% chance of speaking with somebody who has the same name as the company (Habring).
  • When asked about Marketing budgets, they said their plan to serve customers which is the best way to develop a strong brand.

This post went a little over 200 words but had to do the Habring’s story justice. 

Design is How it Works

Steve Jobs once said:

Most people make the mistake of thinking design is what it looks like. People think it’s this veneer – that the designers are handed this box and told, “Make it look good!” That’s not what we think design is. It’s not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works.

This quote is not only a perfect fit for objects such as iPhones, watches (both digital and analog) but also for organizations.  A perfect watch design and movement makes the complications flow without friction to the gears, creates the longest life/power reserve, serves a purpose for the user and is aesthetically pleasing to the eye adhering to certain design principles that may not guarantee acceptance but greatly increase the likelihood.

Good org design cannot be focused only on appropriate spans of control and minimization of layers but it needs to address interaction between humans, the speed information can travel, optimization of learning and development across an organization and reduces friction where possible.   Recreating an org structure is equivalent to building the movement of a watch.  If done right, it perpetuates momentum. If done wrong, it is an expensive waste of time and money.  

Respecting your time

My father was never late, never, ever late.  Often arriving at parties 30 minutes early to the dismay of many hosts.  His lessons in unending punctuality have taught me to respect the time of other people.

During my childhood, my father religiously tracked time on his Seiko that, at the time defined fine watchmaking.  My father often told me that you didn’t even need a battery to power the timepiece. All this mechanical marvel needed was a quick shake in the morning and a day’s worth of wearing to make it run accurately.  I was amazed not only that it worked without batteries but that this small device adorned daily on my father’s wrist was responsible for his reputation for reliability. Accompanying the spartan look was the sound I remember most.

When he quickly jostled his wrist, the hollow bracelet made a jingle-jangle that would forever be associated with my father.

I hadn’t seen that watch in 20 years until I found it this past Tuesday.  After a few hours of cleaning, it is now back in a safe place and making that familiar jingle-jangle that will forever remind me to respect the time of others.