Struthers Watchmaking, founded by husband and wife, Rebecca and Craig Struthers a partnership of master watchmaker and antiquarian horologist. Their family-run watchmaking studio combines their years of experience in vintage and antique watch restoration with award-winning design and research.
How would you describe your craft?
We are watchmakers and restorers so we work on pre-1960s wrist and pocket watches as well as making our own pieces.
How did you begin your career?
Rebecca – I started training as a jeweller and silversmith in 2003 and discovered horology, the study of watch or clockmaking, during my training. I loved the creativity of jewellery but missed the structure and discipline of science so by discovering watchmaking I found the perfect way to combine my favourite subjects.
Craig – Watchmaking for me was a second career. I started out in IT after I struggled to find work as an illustrator which was what I wanted to do when I left college. I wasn’t enjoying work and found out about watchmaking through an aptitude test at the Job Centre of all places. There was a course near me at the time so I signed up and I’ve never looked back. All our bespoke designs start with hand rendered illustrations so in a roundabout way I finally get to be an illustrator of sorts now too.
What other Craftsmen stand out to you most and why?
Rebecca – We work with some amazing craftspeople from a wide range of disciplines to do what we do, from engravers, goldsmiths, chainmakers and enamellers to cabinet makers and leather workers. Method Studio, who are another husband-and-wife team in Linlithgow, Scotland, make our presentation cases and do some incredible work.
Craig – They’ve managed to build a small team of cabinet makers working to a very high standard and remaining true to the tradition of the craft which is what we’d like to achieve in the near future. They also have an amazing workshop in the middle of the woods. We have serious workshop envy!
Do you work with any other craftsmen/women to create your products?
Rebecca – Every watch we make calls on the skills of 10-30 other craftspeople depending on the complexity of the project.
Craig– We’re watchmakers and we dedicate all our time to perfecting our discipline. We’ll never be as good an engraver, or silversmith, or stone setter, as someone who has equally dedicated themselves to their individual discipline. Some of the people we work with have been in the trade for 40-50 years so each watch we make benefits from hundreds of years of cumulative experience. There’s no way we could achieve that level of detail just the two of us.
Has your craft evolved into other/new skills over time?
Rebecca – Some of the craft skills we work with are becoming so endangered we have had to bring them in house, the most notable of which is watch case making.
Craig – Rebecca already had foundation skills in jewellery and silversmithing so, with the help of a QEST Scholarship, I was able to spend time training with one of the last traditional watch case makers in Britain. I’ve taken this experience back to our workshop where Rebecca and I have combined our skills to find our own methods which we’re now teaching to our first apprentice, Heather.
How would you describe a day in your role?
The average day I think varies hugely for anyone who is self-employed. We try to spend as much time in our workshop making things as possible, but equally, we’re responsible for all our social media, administration, PR and restoring and maintaining all of the tools and equipment in our workshop.
How have you stayed passionate and inspired by your craft?
Rebecca – I feel very fortunate to find a subject I have fallen madly in love with and a person I love equally at such an early stage in my life. I started this journey when I was 17, married Craig at 26 and founded our first workshop together the same month as our wedding. Being surrounded by that helps to keep me passionate about my craft even when things get difficult.
Craig – I just love making things, I always have. Being able to earn a living from doing something you’re passionate about is a privilege. Even when we have stressful, difficult, times it’s always with the business and never with our craft.
“Some of the craft skills we work with are becoming so endangered we have had to bring them in house”
How would you describe John Smedley?
We’re always inspired by heritage craft companies who manage to grow a successful business, employ people and pass on skills without losing the heart and soul of what they stand for. John Smedley has done just that, keeping these skills and jobs in the UK and succeeding as a business in an incredibly competitive market.