Interview: Susan Galvin

The Galvin Watch Company is a new Australian microbrand that recently launched its first model on Kickstarter. The Alku is a classically styled 38.5mm unisex watch powered by a Miyota 9039 automatic currently available or $499 AU (about $356 US). Full price will be $649 AU ($464 US). The Time Bum had a chat with founder Susan Galvin, a certified watchmaker with 10 years of experience in the industry.

Susan Galvin

TB: So, where did it all begin for you? How did you get into watches?  

SG: When I was 22, I spoke with my Dad about my future career options. I always loved art and had previously attended art school. My Dad suggested watchmaking as it is a "trade", which would enable me to travel the world as well. Once I started researching watchmaking, I immediately fell in love with mechanical movements. I attended the Finnish School of Watchmaking where I learnt my trade. The Finnish school of watchmaking is a highly recognized school and the curriculum is very similar to what the famous Wostep is to offer. I started the studies in the watchmaking school by making tools, then repairing clocks, pocket watches, and lastly wristwatches.  

TB: While the Galvin Watch Company may be new, you have considerable experience in the watch industry. Please tell us a bit about your professional background.

 

SG: After graduating from watchmaking school in 2010 I was offered a job in Manchester, England working for LVMH. I worked with them for 3 years before gaining a transfer to Sydney, Australia, where I worked for LVMH for another two years. In 2016 I started working for Omega before I was made redundant in March 2020. 


Omega follows a certification system in their training program. I visited the headquarters in Switzerland a couple of times and gained a level 5 certificate working with Omega. I have vast experience with working Omega in house movements, but also the mainstream mechanical calibers widely used by Swiss manufactures. 


Susan Galvin

TB: In your press release, you mention that you bring “much needed female energy to a male-dominated industry.” There is no doubt that the watch world is overwhelmingly male. How can the industry, and the broader watch enthusiast community, address this? 

 

SB: The watch enthusiast community has already shown significant interest in my story and the members of various watch communities have been very supportive, there's a clear interest in my work. There are many female watchmakers out there, especially in Switzerland, however society has a perception that watchmaking is a man's job, therefore I think it's on educational institutions to communicate the wonders of watchmaking to more women.

 

TB: I’m a big fan of microbrand watches, and have been baffled by the relative absence of watches for women in that segment of the market. I’d appreciate your thoughts on why this is, and how small brands can reach those buyers. 

 

SG: The Microbrand community is dominated by male watch enthusiasts, they are obviously the market. I think there is space for women's watches, this something I am seriously considering in the future. So I suppose again, it's about promotion and communicating with women that there are beautiful watches out there, made by Microbrands. It may take one company to break the mould, maybe it will be Galvin Watch Company?  

Galvin Alku Black

TB: In recent years, I’ve noticed that more women are starting their own watch and watch accessory companies. Given the traditional resistance to diversity in larger watch companies, is this the way forward for female watchmakers? 

 

SB: As a female watchmaker, establishing my own brand, I don't see any reason why female watchmakers can't break into the watch industry. My experience has been overwhelmingly positive. As mentioned previously there are many prominent women in the watchmaking industry working for both micro and macro brands. 

 

TB: I love the Alku’s size and based on your funding, I’m clearly not alone. Do you think we have finally broken with the idea that every watch must be 40mm or larger? 

 

SB: Traditionally anything under 40mm is a dress watch size for men.  I actually designed the watch so it would be suitable for both men and women; however, it seems the watch community has taken the watch to be a male dress watch. The initial idea behind the whole design process was to create a timepiece, I would like to wear myself. I wear Alku watches regularly and so does my husband! 

 

TB: Putting current trends aside, what are your favorite watch design elements? Are there any you would like to see disappear or come back? 

 

SB: When I started the design process with the Alku watches, the source of inspiration was an automatic Omega bumper watch from the late 1940s. I bought the watch from one of my training trips from Switzerland and gave it to my husband after servicing the movement on our wedding day. Obviously, there was a big sentimental value for this timepiece, but I also fell in love with the domed shaped dial and the minimalist design. I wanted to introduce those two features to my own design too. Being from Finland, I think the minimalist design is somewhat in our blood. 

 


TB: The Coronavirus pandemic has affected everything this year, including watches. Did it pose any particular challenges in getting Galvin off the ground? 

 

SB: My initial plan was to go back to the bench after the maternity leave. After I was made redundant, I didn't have a job to go to. Therefore I was kind of at the point "I don't have anything to lose". I think there is a lot of uncertainty with the Coronavirus, but I felt this is my time to give the business and my own brand a try. 

 

TB: Nothing to lose indeed. Your Kickstarter campaign has exceeded the initial goal five times over and it is only at the halfway point. Given the Alku's successful launch, what is next for Galvin? 

 

SB: More watch designing! After the Kickstarter campaign, my plan is to transfer my current landing page to an e-commerce website and build up my online store. Kickstarter campaign orders, quality control, regulating, and testing the Alku watches are going to keep me very busy and I have no doubt the days are pretty much fully booked by the end of the year. 


Galvin Alku White


TB: What watches are in your personal collection?

 

SB: Omega Speedmaster, couple of Omega vintage ladies manual watches, Tag, Omega Bumper, ladies Hamilton vintage manual watch, ladies Bulova vintage manual watch, and lastly but not least, two automatic Alku watches. 

 

TB: What are you considering for your next purchase? 

 

SB: After a long history of working with the macro brands, I think it's time to take the watch collection further and start investing in more unique microbrand watches. As a good Finn, I think my next watch will be from a Finnish brand called S.U.F, also called as SarpanevaUhrenFabrik.

 

TB: Any parting words for our readers? 

 

SB: The Kickstarter Campaign is up and running until the end of August. I have discounted all the prices for the Kickstarter, so that everyone who is packing my project, is also getting a good deal as an exchange. As I have said in the Kickstarter video, this will enable me to start my own watch brand. ⬩

Galvin Alku Black

Galvin Alku White

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