Founder of Garrick, UK based watch brand and The Watchmakers Club, David Brailsford is an entrepreneur with a passion for watchmaking that has led him to be part of small number of brands re-establishing a British watch industry.
1. Describe briefly your childhood.
I grew up in the UK in a city called Derby and life was pretty tough. I was part of a large family with 3 younger brothers and an older sister. I didn't really like school or taking orders for that matter. Even from a young age, I wasn't afraid to give my opinion and this did land me in trouble on a few occasions.
2. As a child did you have any driving ambition?
I grew up with nothing and just wanted to be successful. I always dreamt of running my own business and this is all I thought about.
3. What is your first significant memory as a child?
Nothing really but I did meet Princess Diana which always sticks with me.
4. Have you ever had another profession?
I've been a majority shareholder in various companies but I made my money in the mobile phone industry at the time when digital phones were taking the world by storm. I also ran an antique business and a company sourcing high-end watches for clients, which is how I met many independent watchmakers.
5. What made you decide to go in the direction you are currently in?
Garrick - I was on a stand at SalonQP with my good friend Peter Roberts when I was approached by Simon (my partner) who asked me about starting a new watch company. Knowing the many pitfalls, I pondered for a few months before taking the plunge. The rest is history!
The Watchmakers Club - I've been friends with quite a few independents for many years and I've always known how frustrating this industry can be for brands who can't attend the large shows. Many independents find it difficult to get their watches in front of collectors and this is where the idea came from. It's been a huge success and I have met many good friends.
6. What’s the worst job you’ve had to do?
I worked in a car showroom washing cars and I hated it! My fingers looked like pickled sausages :-)
7. What’s been the hardest moment in your life so far, and how did you overcome it?
My dog died 6 years ago and I still find it hard to come to terms with. For 15 years she was my best friend. I really don't think I will ever get over it. I am pretty strong and nothing else has ever bothered me.
8. Who has had the strongest influence on you?
To be honest, I can't think of anyone growing up. I always did my own thing and worked hard to achieve my goals. In the watch industry, I admire numerous independent watchmakers who have worked their way up the ranks to build a successful business.
Andreas Strehler and Peter Roberts have been strong influences but I truly admire the Gronefelds. Great watchmakers, incredible businessmen and jolly nice chaps.
9. What are you most proud of?
Building my watch brand from nothing through sheer hard work and determination. It's been the hardest thing I've ever done.
10. What advice would you give to a 20 something someone thinking of taking a similar path as you?
Never give up on your dream, listen to those who matter, take chances and act yourself! I've been successful throughout my life by just being myself (no BS) and building relationships. Good contacts matter in the watch industry.
I've also been told on numerous occasions that I would fail (even at school) but through sheer hard work, I've proved people wrong time and time again.
Oh, and get yourself down to the pub now and again and enjoy a fine whisky or beer! You just have to chill now and again and forget everything!
11. Name three things on your bucket list.
Visit every brewery and distillery in the UK - I'm a huge real ale fan and I also love my whisky :-)
Go see the Vasa - I am a collector of everything and anything nautical and I would dearly love to visit the Vasa museum in Sweden. If you've never heard of this ship you just have to google it! Incredible!
Own a Jensen Interceptor! What a car! It's not that I can't get hold of one but more I would just waste my life looking at it!
12. Where do you think the industry is going to be in 10 years time.
Times are changing! The watch industry has always had its ups and downs but the past year has seen many dramatic changes.
Brands now see the value in direct communication with potential customers and I think we will see smaller and more intimate watch fairs and less waffle from PR companies.
The internet and social media have changed how we all do business and the watch industry has been slow to respond, until now.
In the next 10 years, I think the internet will account for the majority of brand sales, and customers or savvy collectors will have more power than ever before. By that, I mean that unlike smaller independents, larger brands have always dictated market trends but this is changing because of the huge interest in independent watchmaking. Many successful independent brands are successful for a reason and it's not rocket science - they attend events, talk to customers and listen!
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