Much has happened since my last update for this project, and I’d like to take a moment out to give you the latest on how things are going, and what lies ahead for the Vuelta specifically, future watches, and my business. Time flies, and it’s surprising to realize that it has been six months since I began distributing the Vuelta. It's been a wonderful, and very instructive six months.
"Hand Assembled in the USA"
The first big share I have for you is that Vueltas are now being hand-assembled in Minneapolis versus Hong Kong. It’s a cool development, I feel, for both my brand and me personally, and I arrived at this decision in a very slow and roundabout way, where it suddenly made sense for me to insource production.
Outsourcing assembly as I had with the Vuelta was an easy decision at the time given the volume of orders I was facing. With the benefit of hindsight, I feel this experience went perfectly well enough (minus the delays) and that the end result met my basic expectations for build quality.
The road towards in-sourcing began with me improving the builds I came across that I felt could have been done better, and then realizing that I was improving quite a few many of the builds, and not because anything was wrong per se, but because I just like to improve things.
So when the Vuelta 25s all sold (every loving one of them!) I decided to expand the line and keep making them. The first question I had was whether i was going to do it the same way again, or manage assembly here. In the final analysis, the deciding issue for me, was not cost, nor scaleability, or even flexibility, but what arrangement would let me create the strongest, and most competitive products possible? If not today, then at least what would enable a path to do so in the future?
As of this June, Vuelta 25s are now being assembled in Minneapolis.
This decision let me better reflect on how I should be developing my business, beginning with my heartfelt belief that a beautiful product is always the end result of a beautiful process.
I can blather on about this, about how this is evident in the old timepieces I continue to restore, and how this ideal guides the kinds of products I want to make and the business I want to be. For one thing, Padron isn’t a lifestyle brand. I will never shill apparel, or commuter bikes, or footwear, or whatever is there to exist in the dull service of some identifiable demographic. I am very much about making strong, iconic timepieces, and it’s my belief that the character of the products I make inform the brand, not the other way around.
If you’re some company juggling a broad portfolio of unrelated products, then offshoring is probably right for you. There are plenty of talented backend companies out there, and I think this is a perfectly fine way to create diligent products, and it's certainly a VC friendly way to go about it.
But if one ever wants a real shot to stand apart, more must be done. It's not enough to dream up specs all day and communicate them to vendors. You need to own production or at least as many pieces of it as possible. By way of example, my personal hero is Ferrucio Lamborghini. Here's a guy who for many years had a solid business manufacturing good, dependable tractors. One day, after discovering that his Ferrari had the same exact clutch as his own tractor, Lamborghini realized he already had all the pieces in place to make a great sports car and that perhaps he should. The rest is history.
I aspire to something like this on a humbler scale. I aspire to having such a strong operation in place for making timepieces that I can I go forth and create any kind of timepiece my heart desires. (Though I doubt any timepiece no matter how amazing ever ended up on a Trapper Keeper ;-)
A new Kickstarter
I admit some of my long-winded words above about Italian sportscars is not just to inform you on my thoughts, but set things up a bit for my second big share here. :-)
I've been asked if I would ever do a second Kickstarter, and after an equally long meditation on this question, the answer to that is Yes. I have a new watch, it's a beautiful, the tooling and prototypes are done. It's called the Padron Tessera, and it's a refinement of the ideals that inspired the Vuelta. It's also the first watch I am offering with an all-stainless band, the first to be offered in black and silver and I realized the best place to introduce it is the same community that helped me get started. And I can't wait to share it with you!
As of right now I am gearing up the details and hope to have a release within days. Some of you have expressed to me an interest in being informed, and this is my early heads up. As in before, there will be an early bird special. Please email me with your best address if you wish to be assured of notification.
Final Share: The Vuelta 17
On a down note, I am considering phasing out the Vuelta 17. The 25 to some degree has always cannibalized sales of the former, but they have still sold reasonably, even if they were slower to sell. Once I exhaust stock, the question I have is whether to renew production in the same manner as the 25. Does the Vuelta 17 deserve to live? Or was it a nice idea that had its run? I'd be interested in hearing your thoughts.