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From Idea to Release: How an Abingdon Watch is Designed and Created… February 4, 2015

Posted by Abingdon in Design, Watch.
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I was discussing design methods with some friends who work at other watch companies, and I found out that The Abingdon Co. builds our watches a little differently than most. I’ve always been very proud of each timepiece we’ve released and look forward to releasing many more styles in the years to come for adventurous women who race cars, fly airplanes, scuba dive, shoot, fight, and deserve a quality watch that can hold up a good beating.

Being a small company, having a huge R&D budget is not a reality so I practice Daymond John’s mantra: Practice the Power of Broke. Unlike some watch brands, I can’t make a bunch of styles and then release them to my customers and keep the ones that sell. It would cost too much to do so and it doesn’t allow the attention needed to the details of the styles that adventurous women want and need. So this is an intimate look into how an Abingdon watch is made – and it takes approximately one to two years per style.

Here is the first drawing for the concept of the Elise - our 3 time zone timepiece. It all starts with the idea from our customers and some good old pen and paper.

Here is the first drawing for the concept of the Elise – our 3 time zone timepiece. It all starts with the idea from our customers and some good old pen and paper.

Function first, then Aesthetic

It all starts with asking our customer base what they want in a watch. Dual time? Three timezones? Stopwatch? Flight Computer? Digital? Multi-Function? Abingdon Crewmembers (our staff) always have a pad of paper at The Abingdon Co. booth at trade shows for ideas from people who come up and give suggestions for the “next Abingdon.” We take those ideas and see what is the most common request and that will be the function of the new style.

Next we build the “look” of the watch. Each Abingdon is styled differently so no two Abingdon’s look alike. We take into consideration colors, metals, leathers, and dial choices to create the best combination for this new Abingdon timepiece and the function that will go into it.

Test Pilot Program

Once the function and the aesthetic are brought together in a few different styles, we ask certain customers if they want to be a part of our Test Pilot program. This means they get to wear a prototype for a week and use it in their daily activities as they would any normal watch they wear. With the valuable feedback they give, The Abingdon Co. Crew is able to make improvements to the watch. We’ve changed everything from the movement (it’s like the engine for a watch) to the name given, based on our Test Pilot participants’ responses to prototypes. It’s an invaluable part of the process and I would never want to change this aspect – not only is it fun to work with customers and see their excitement at being a part of the design process, but their feedback helps make The Abingdon Co. watches the best they can be.

After all necessary changes are done, it’s time for manufacturing, which takes anywhere from 3 to 6 months depending on the complexity of the timepiece. During this period while the watches are being produced, manuals are generated, photography and marketing materials are being created and all of the preparation for the release is getting accomplished. Amazingly, it’s been well over a year at this point, but the light at the end of the tunnel is in sight!

Many people ask me if I have a background in horology or design. I say, “No, I’m a pilot, adrenaline junkie, and small business owner. My customers are my designers.” I know some companies produce hundreds of styles arbitrarily and keep the ones that stick. It’s not The Abingdon Co. way though. I’m going to keep quality high, functionality essential, and customer involvement a constant.

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Watch Bands 101 January 28, 2015

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Know the difference in band size so you can make sure you get the correct one.

Know the difference in band size so you can make sure you get the correct one.

Every now and then I hear the question, “Why doesn’t my band last long enough?” I want to talk about bands because leather bands on watches do wear. They are meant to be changed. Often. On average, every eight months or so is when you should be ready for a new strap. And they won’t necessarily degrade the value of your watch by having the original (unless you are a collector who never plans on wearing your watch).

The first thing you want to know about bands is how to read their sizes. A band will connect to a watch case at the “lugs.” So when you order a replacement band on The Abingdon Co. website, all sizes are listed in millimeters based on lug width. Take for instance my favorite watch, Jackie. It will fit bands that have 20 mm widths at the lug points. That means when I need a replacement band I would order a 20 mm band. The same thing goes for Amelia. Amelia also has 20 millimeters between the two lugs for the band to fit. Therefore, any band that will fit in a Jackie will also fit in an Amelia. Elise, however, is a smaller watch that has a smaller distance (16 mm to be exact) in between it’s lugs. So if you wanted a replacement band for Elise you would need to order a 16 mm band.

A common misconception is that the sizes of bands are determined by their lengths. But this is not true; the sizes of bands are determined by the widths at the connection point to the watch (aka the “lugs”). Lengths, however, come in three typical sizes. A standard size which is meant for both men and women’s wrists. A women’s length which is just a little bit shorter, and an extra long length for those of us who have thick wrists. Abingdon bands are either in standard or women’s sizes.

The last thing I wanted to talk about is the material the bands are made of. You have “genuine leather” that comes from cows which is the most common. Often times, bands that are made from genuine leather are stamped with a different pattern like another animal hide. If ever you saw “Croco genuine leather” you know it’s cow leather stamped with a crocodile pattern. It doesn’t mean that it is made from crocodile. This is a way that watch manufacturers can keep costs low for the customer and produce a seemingly high quality luxury item. Of course, you do also have watch bands that are made from genuine crocodile, alligator, ostrich, and pretty much any leather type animal good that you can think of. And of course, I must give a shout out to the synthetics and silicones. There are some great bands made from fake materials that are really nice. Which do you prefer? A genuine animal band or one that is animal free?

AOPA Forgets Us Women Pilots… Again December 29, 2014

Posted by Abingdon in Flight, Watch.
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This month's edition features an article on the history of pilot watches, but fails to include the ladies.

December’s edition features an article on the history of pilot watches, but fails to include the ladies.

The Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association. They are the largest advocacy/lobby group for aviation and the most frequent sender of solicitations to my physical mail address. Next year will be my 8th year as a female AOPA member and as a valued member, I get their magazine each month.

December’s edition included an article titled, Time Flies, written by Tom Horne. It is an article written about the history of pilot’s watches and what is offered today. Where was any mention of women flying or watches for women pilots? Why perpetuate the stereotype that women don’t fly by not including them in every corner possible? This same edition of AOPA Pilot Magazine had a letter from the president, Mark Baker, saying, “This is a time when GA desperately needs to grow.” Hello? We’re here. We’re female. We make up 51% of the population. And we like to fly!

Let’s look at the stats, AOPA – women make up 6-7% of the aviation industry. If the industry is in desperate need of growth (which I agree with you, Mr. Baker), then why not be an advocate for women in aviation in your publication? And not just during March, the only month of the year when everyone focuses on women in aviation, but during the whole year round. Every so often, AOPA includes an article on some group working to grow women in the industry as if the organization is trying to appease us ladies with a small apologetic token of an article. I shouldn’t have to feel like my industry is against me, so why does AOPA make me feel like this?

Confession is that yes, I do feel slighted for never having been approached by Mr. Horne for this article, but for good reason. I started The Abingdon Co. because of a complete omission of aviation watches for female pilots – by all of the companies listed in Mr. Horne’s article. However, I continued my company in order to bring recognition to women in the aviation industry with the effort to grow women in aviation. This is one of the reasons I have created the It’s About Time Scholarship – dedicated to introducing women to aerospace. This is why I agreed to be on Flying Wild Alaska as Ariel Tweto’s flight instructor – to show women teaching women how to fly. If I can attract a girl who likes the style of Michael Kors, but sees more function in an Abingdon Watch with the same look as the MK watch on her wrist, then I have done my job bringing awareness to women in aviation.

So let’s remind AOPA to be an advocate for us women pilots too. Write a Letter to the Editor at pilot@aopa.org and CC Tom at tom.horne@aopa.org. I’m writing mine tonight. Mr. Horne, you had a watch company that is not only dedicated to women in aviation, but was founded by AOPA member #5819607.

Top 3 Guidelines To Make Your Watch Last a Lifetime April 16, 2014

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Every Wednesday, I give my customer service reps a break and personally handle the customer service hotline. People call in for all sorts of things including watch repairs. As tough as an Abingdon watch is, we humans are tougher. Recently I even had to repair my own watch following a minor mishap… (more…)