What a year 2018 has been at Hamtun. We launched 3 models and shipped 2 of them, with the other one due to ship in Spring 2019. By every possible metric the business has continued to grow. When I started planning the H1 in 2015 even my most ambitious plans didn't have the business in this position at this time.
We're taking a bit off time off over Christmas for once, with the 19th being our last day until the new year. We'll be closing down the store during that period to avoid orders coming in that we can't ship straight away.
With the end of the year so close, we wanted to take a bit of time to talk about what we got right (and wrong) this year, and what we have planned for 2019.
Things we got right in 2018
The biggest change behind the scenes in 2018 was a switch of manufacturing partner. While we were mostly pleased with the 2016 H1, the relationship with the factories was strained as they tried to cut corners and we called them out on it. As a result, it took us longer than planned to get the original H1 into the hands of our customers.
For all of our 2019 models, we've worked with a new manufacturing partner. While they are quite a lot more expensive to work with, they are worth every penny. As well as Hamtun they manufacture for many of the best known and most respected brands in our market. Since we've switched we've got far more sleep and our watches have gone up another level. That relationship is now incredibly strong and is the basis for everything we're doing over the next 18 months.
On the product front, every model we launched this year was funded fast and reviews have been almost unanimously positive. We tried a few new things, with 2 of our 3 releases being a big departure from the H1 that got us noticed, yet people continued to show faith in the business to deliver good watches.
Our product range is now diverse and interesting, and while we'd have made more money by just churning out a load more divers, we've learned more by doing something different.
Things we screwed up in 2018
So. Lots of good, but we won't get better if we don't look bad on things we got wrong. So let's go:
The biggest regret from our perspective is slow support response times. For a while, Hamtun was growing faster than we could keep up with. We're incredibly customer focussed, so it caused many sleepless nights knowing that people weren't getting the service they deserved.
As a result, we now have more people helping with support. Ross is still the first point of contact for most issues, but then the actual work (shipping replacements, repairing watches etc) is often done by other people. As a result, we're now up to date with emails and are keeping it that way. If, during the chaos, we missed something from you just email firstname.lastname@example.org and it'll be fixed fast.
Thanks to new people and new systems, we'll never get into that situation again.
The other minor issue was a problem with some of the 2018 edition H1 clasps. A few of them failed, and while it wasn't many, even one isn't good enough. We've shipped a new design clasp to anyone that's reported an issue, and we won't be using those clasps again in the future.
Our plans for 2019
Possibly the biggest news is a behind the scenes change. On January 3 Hamtun moves into its first ever dedicated office space! Until now it has been operated from shared spaces, coffee shops, spare bedrooms, or really anywhere we could find space to set up. Having a dedicated office and space for permanent photo equipment and a dedicated QA and shipping area is going to make so much difference to the effectiveness of all our operations. We're incredibly excited about it. If you’re even in Southampton, feel free to drop by and say hello.
On the product front, we’ve got 2 models lined up at the moment. Potentially we might do a third towards the end of the year, we’ll see how things are going.
It's been 4 years since the H1 was designed, and in that time Hamtun has grown from an idea in a spare bedroom to a company with permanent offices that has shipped thousands of watches. With new ideas, new knowledge, and new manufacturing partners we are now in a position to make the first substantial changes to our flagship model.
So what is changing?
- We've made a subtle change to the case shape. It remains a 41mm diameter, but we've slightly increased the thickness of the lugs while slightly decreasing the thickness of the watch
- We've switched from a sandwich dial to applied indices and increased the size of them for better lume performance
- We've changed the whole handset, going for something a bit bolder
- We've changed the bracelet, making the links a little bit thicker and a little bit longer. It makes the bracelet feel more chunky and slightly more appropriate for a tool watch
- We're offering a Swiss made Sellita SW200-1 (Élaboré grade) as an optional upgrade (The Seiko NH35A remains the default movement)
- We're coating the whole watch (including bracelet) in a scratch-resistant coating. It doesn't change the look, but it makes the watch less susceptible to the little scratches and marks that can build up over time
So let's look at the specs
- 41mm diameter titanium case with scratch-resistant coating
- Sapphire crystal with internal anti-reflective coating
- Grade-A Swiss BGW9 Super-LumiNova
- Seiko NH35A or Sellita SW200 automatic movement
Here it is
As I hope is clear, we've kept the spirit of the H1 alive but made a load of subtle updates which result in this new model being its own thing. So much so that we think it deserves its own name, so for 2019 the H1 is now the H2 aka The Kraken.
The H2 will launch in Q1 2019, probably sometime in February. We're spending December and January preparing for release. You can learn more in our H2 Kraken launch article.
The H2 is our big project for the first few months of 2019 and we'll also ship the Nanok sometime in the spring, but that's not all we're doing.
We're currently working on something for Summer 2019, which will be a departure from our usual style and target market.
Currently known as the Vosper, it's our interpretation of a modern, high-spec dive watch.
It's an angular design that's packed with the best technology avalable. It should be very comfortable to wear, but also make a statement on your wrist. We're not cutting corners, every part will be of the highest quality.
Here are some basic details, I'll have more to share in the first few months of 2019:
- élaboré grade Sellita SW200 movement as standard, with an optional upgrade to TOP grade available
- scratch-resistant coating on the case and bracelet
- anti-magnetic movement protection, which helps maintain accuracy over time
- brushed, matte and polished case aspects, resulting in a watch that catches the light in so many ways
- ceramic bezel on a ball-bearing based mechanism, resulting in a smooth, high-end action
- Grade-A Super-LumiNova. Lots of it
- available in 7+ dial designs, and in a few case finishes
- 200 metres/20 ATM water resistance
- Deep stamped case back
It's the highest spec we've ever made and as a result it'll be the most expensive watch we've ever made. Compared to others of a similar quality though, the price will be incredibly attractive.
We'll have prototypes in late Q1 2019, with an aim of launching in the summer. If you're a reviewer or YouTuber we'd love to show you one, or if you have a favourite channel you trust let us know and we'll try to get in touch with them. Drop an email to email@example.com with details.
We're working on a new website. While this one has been great for us over the last few years, we've added a lot of bits to it during that time and it's getting a bit messy. There are also some pages that just don't do what we need them to. We've taken the opportunity to build something fresh and new, and are looking forward to getting it live sometime in Q1 2019.
So that's about it. Thank you all so much for an incredibly successful 2018, and we're really excited about everything we've got lined up for 2019!