Exclusive Suffolk-designed watch to be launched during London Fashion Week
PUBLISHED: 19:00 05 February 2020
Match your watch to your outfit with design dreamt up by former university lecturer.
A former University of Suffolk graphic design lecturer has given up her day job to launch a unique watch with a changeable face. Hayley Fraser-Webb says she woke up one Sunday morning with the idea.
With the help of one initial investor, and further investment from Shout About Suffolk, her dream has now become a reality.
Hayley has the patent for the watch in the UK, Europe, China and Hong Kong, and will be launching Cast Watches this autumn during London Fashion Week.
"It's been a long journey," says Hayley. "My first investor said prepare yourself for a rollercoaster ride with many ups and downs, and it certainly has been."
After securing her first investor Hayley did her homework and went to a prototype company in Cheltenham, who did a proof of concept and made a basic version of her watch design.
She was then advised to seek a patent lawyer. "At first they said, 'Watches have been around for some time, I can't see how yours can be different' but, when they saw what it did, they were blown away and advised me to patent the idea."
Her investor "an amazing guy and now good friend, who is incredibly supportive" took her to China, where the first stainless steel prototype was made and tested.
"We were able to see it for the first time and test the face going in and out of the watch," she says.
Two years after working on the idea, her investor advised Hayley she would need more money.
That's when she approached Shout About Suffolk, which was set up to support local entrepreneurs.
They wanted to show her prototype to an investor who loves watches and were soon on board with Hayley's "really exciting" business idea.
You may also want to watch:
This fresh investment and business support led her to visit Germany.
Hayley says the owner of the German factory said the watch was "absolutely unbelievable" and was excited to be partnering with Cast Watches.
The minimalist watches have a Swiss movement, sapphire glass and a 10-year battery life.
"It's a beautifully crafted watch - it offers a blank canvas to showcase creative works," says Hayley.
The German-made product will cost £240, while the printed steel faces will be priced at £15 on average, with signed limited edition faces costing more.
Buyers select either the silver or black watch, then choose from a gallery of designer faces to start their collection.
Hayley says: "Because you can seamlessly change the actual face and have a variety of straps it's like you have a whole new watch - a different watch every day."
The business is collaborating with a variety of fashion and jewellery brands both here in Suffolk and in London, matching the faces to their clothing and jewellery collections.
"We have received such generous support from local companies, such as Dapper Fox and Javelin based in Bury St Edmunds, who loved the product and were able to help with clothing for our first photoshoots, matching Cast Watch faces to the designer clothing," Hayley says.
Designers, photographers and illustrators can also apply to join Cast Watches and sell their designs in the 'Cast Gallery', gaining a commission on the sale of each of their works.
"This dream helped me realise that my various skills could come into play and that other designers could benefit," says Hayley. "I'm really excited to be working with designers in this way."
Cast Watches' first pop-up shop will be in Covent Garden during London Fashion Week this September. Hayley's business is certainly one to watch.