Thursday, May 23, 2024

So who is your customer?

 

As the first NH55 are ready to be shipped to Germany and the US, we are finally able to answer the most asked question: who are the people willing to pay $35,000 for an Australian made watch - and equally importantly - why?

The customer profile is surprisingly definite, rigid and unmistakable. All NH55 owners share these three characteristics:

1. They deeply understand and appreciate the mechanical challenge of making complex, small, highly precise watch components. Micro engineering and micro machining is difficult to master. There are only a handful of independent watchmakers in the world capable of making their own watches. There is just one Patek and one Rolex, and one Omega, and one NH Micro.

2. They immensely enjoy the artistic value of NH55 watches. The colour of Timascus, the guilloche created in one of the most challenging non-horological materials. The individuality - there are no two identical NH55 watches. You can take NH55 to any Swiss brand boutique, and watch the reaction. Swiss watch movements and dials don't look like ours. Yes they are perfect, but in this price range they are just plain, monochrome, sterile, uninspiring, mass-produced watches. Our customers want more.

3. Our customers are sophisticated and want to be part of our story. They understand the privilege that comes from knowing your own watchmaker and being known by your own watchmaker. The concept of "our time is yet to come" is as clear in their mind as it is in ours. “This watch was made by a machinist and a watchmaker, in their twenties. But they don’t make just watches - they make the most precise, most complex parts for quantum computers, medical instruments, nuclear instrumentation, and satellites. They make tools and parts for other watchmakers. And their time is yet to come! These are MY watchmakers, who made this watch FOR ME.”  You don’t get a story like this anywhere else – because our story is unique, authentic and real.
 
Yes, when you look at the NH55 the way they look at it, you realize that an investment in NH55 is an investment in the future that could be enjoyed today, and as such, maybe, your best investment ever.
 
To order the NH55 catalogue featuring all 16 watches, simply reply to this email.
 
You are welcome.                         

Monday, May 20, 2024

Happy Rebelde Day!

 

Tomorrow is ‘Rebelde Day’ – the 12th anniversary since the NH brand was conceived.
Like many ‘revolutionary’ projects, it all started with an act of rebellion, loaded with anger: our right to repair was taken away from us - small independent watch repairers. But in the weeks and months that followed, that anger transformed into an outburst of positive energy, with a strong determination to show the Swiss what we were made of. Nearly two years later, the first rebelde Pilots watch was sold on the 22nd of May 2014. The very first Australian "rebelde" ambassador.

Thanks to your support, the project took off like wild fire, and over the following years, 947 rebelde watches were assembled and delivered to rebelde ambassadors in Australia, Europe and North America. On the 4th of January 2019, the first NH1 was assembled and sold. It was the first ever watch to contain internal components manufactured in Australia, in our own workshop. The NH1 was a culmination of several significant sacrifices. An investment in a high precision manufacturing facility was a huge risk which made absolutely no sense – except to a small team of young, crazy enthusiastic and ambitious machinists and watchmakers.

As I type this ‘Happy Rebelde Day’ message, in front of me lies a collection of 16 unique watches in Timascus, featuring colourful guilloche dials, Titanium hands, internal Timascus parts, fitted in a Titanium case. Known as the first 16 NH55's, they represent not just a truly Australian manufactured watch, but one the likes of which never before seen in Australia.

I am proud and grateful for a number of reasons. The fact that these watches bear my name is probably of the least importance.
Firstly, I am extremely pleased that Josh and Andrew have played a crucial role in this project: Josh as the leader of the entire in-house manufacturing process, and Andrew, as our very own ‘in house’ trained watchmaker. Both of them achieved what was unthinkable, bordering on the impossible, not just on the Australian, but on an international level. They are a priceless asset to horology, and their time is yet to come. I am immensely proud that we have completed this project in just two years, without a cent borrowed. Above all, it is hard to contain our excitement that the first four of the sixteen watches have been already sold to the most renowned watch collectors, who are now eagerly awaiting delivery.

There are still a few more ‘tasks’ before the NH55 project will be officially completed: more photographs, a coffee table book and a catalogue featuring each watch in detail; and an official launch of the NH55 Timascus, in person, to a group of machinists and watch collectors, planned for June. As far as sales are concerned, we are not in a hurry to throw ourselves into a crazy marketing spin in order to sell the few remaining pieces quickly. Instead, we are simply waiting for ‘the right watch collector’ to find us. In their own time, when they are ready.

The NH55 was an amazing journey. Difficult, yes. Humbling, yet rewarding in every possible way. Rebellious, for sure.

Thank you for your time.

Nicholas Hacko

Should you wish to receive a link to the NH55 catalogue, please reply to this email. Also, if you wish to be invited to attend the 'NH55 in person' in June, please do let us know. 

Thursday, May 16, 2024

I need your opinion

 

Over the years, I’ve spent a great deal of time collecting railway pocket watches. The collection contains between 400-500 individual timepieces. Covering mainly Australian and Japanese issued watches, which were in actual use, as official watches by their respective national railways.

It all started as some harmless fun, until it become a passion. Eventually, the collection took a life of it’s own, presenting a ‘snapshot of an era’. But as the collection grew, it become obvious that the historical value as a lot exceeded the value of the individual pieces. My original intention was to continue collecting – until the day I would retire, and then write a book with the intention to not just preserve, but to encourage watch collectors to build on it and take the research to the next level.

Unfortunately, as the watchmaking and manufacturing sides to the business grow, there is no longer any time for further research and expansion of the existing collection. The question is simple: what should I do?

Here are a few options:

1.  To do nothing, put all watches in a container, seal them and let them be discovered one day when I am gone.
The collection remains intact, and research / historical data is preserved.

2.  To sell the whole lot, to one person who has a passion to continue the project.

3.  To sell them individually, one by one. Difficult, time consuming, which would require weeks of work. Collection broken up, but proceedings of sale could be invested in advancing NH watchmaking projects.

What would you suggest? Is there a fourth option?

As with any collection, some pieces are basic, others extremely rare with significant investment potential; some are ready to be worn, others would require a complete overhaul.

At this stage, I have absolutely no idea what the total value would be. Not even the final count, so please don’t ask for details.

Thank you for your feedback.

Wednesday, April 24, 2024

Perfection is here

 

This is a close up image of our Mark 2 titanium guilloche dial. Received by an overseas ambassador who wanted to show the world his excitement. This photo has been circulated online and has received glowing reviews from both machinists and watch enthusiasts.

It is easy to see why: we are talking about perfection of design and perfection of cut. Shaping titanium is extremely difficult at this microscopic level.

I am not going to say that Mark 2 is the most perfect dial ever made, but it is the first and most perfect guilloche dial ever manufactured in Australia. By far. And I am not bragging - just stating the obvious.

As an Australian watch collector, you have a unique opportunity to watch the NH "Manufactured in Australia" project evolving in front of your eyes, in real time. To be a first-hand witness of a unique creation blossoming slowly but steadily. When you think of it - this is quite unusual. An event that has not ever happened on this soil, and may not ever happen again. This is an experience only independent watchmaking can offer.

There is not the slightest doubt that MK2 will outlive me, you, and a few more generations of watch enthusiasts in the years to come. Yet none of them will have that widow of opportunity like you and I have: to share the excitement being at the same place, at the same time. That is special.

If you are ready for a truly Australian watch: the time is now, and the time is ticking. The Orange MK2 is also a limited run of 55 watches to be made and sold over the next 9 years. Two watches are available for immediate delivery.

To place your order simply reply to this email.

Price: $7,900

Nick

Truly humbled

NH Micro in the top 50 most innovative manufacturing companies in Australia!

This week has been huge for manufacturing in Australia. The federal government has released some ambitious initiatives between defence spending, on-shoring commitments and manufacturing revitalisation funds.
Back on earth, AMW, Australia's only manufacturing fair has been running all week, with a huge number of attendees flocking to the ICC in Darling Harbour to see the latest and greatest in hands-on manufacturing.

Piggy backing off of the AMW week, AuManufacturing, Australia's leading manufacturing publication has hosted an awards ceremony, presenting Australia's top 50 most innovative companies. Brent Balinksi, editor and co-founder of the publication searched across Australia to find the top 50 most innovative manufacturing companies - we were approached last year and interviewed by Brent (https://www.aumanufacturing.com.au/the-importance-of-bringing-play-to-work) and entered into the competition. Yesterday, AuManufacturing hosted a breakfast and awards ceremony showcasing all of the top 50. Proudly, we can say that we made it!

Our work at NH Micro is so niche, specialised, and often secretive, that we struggle to tell the world about our journey. There are parts of our journey that are so deeply buried by NDA's and, other parts that are difficult to talk about lest we appear boastful... So, being recognised by an industry powerhouse like AuManufacturing, is really something else. Congratulations to all the entrants, category winners and the other 49 of the top 50.

Josh 

Seiko Supercars

 

"The Repco Supercars Championship is the leading Motorsport category in Australasia, with events taking place across Australia and New Zealand. Last year saw Seiko celebrate 10 years of partnership with the Repco Supercars Championship as the official timepiece of Australasia’s Premier Motorsports series. The category is renowned for its exciting racing and the closeness of competition, with millimetres and milliseconds often being the difference between victory and despair.

2024 sees the continuation of the partnership between Seiko 5 Sports and the Repco Supercars Championship. To celebrate this legacy, we are thrilled to release our latest Seiko 5 Supercars Limited Edition; SRPL01K."
Seiko x Supercars 2024 Ref. SRPL01K

42.5mm case size. Stainless steel (black hard coating) case and bracelet. Additional silicon strap. Hardlex glass. Day-date function. Self-winding automatic movement - calibre 4R35. Water resistance 10 bar. Only 2,024 pieces made.  

Our price: $750

Thursday, April 11, 2024

The most accurate ruler

 

As many of you know, we love manufacturing. Over the last 8 years (It's been that long, crazy!) we have learned a lot by focusing on making watches.
However, 3 or 4 years ago, parallel precision sectors, like the medical, space, semiconductor and high-end scientific instrumentation sectors, started to become curious about our capabilities. Specifically in handling complex, highly precise and very small parts. This interest was big enough to spin-out a separate business called NH Micro. If you've been following along our newsletter and journey, you might have heard of NH Micro before - in short, watchmakers making parts for other sectors.

ANSTO is the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation. It's the leading research body for nuclear science. Between a particle accelerator called a synchrotron located in Melbourne, and a nuclear research reactor in Lucas Heights, south of Sydney, ANSTO employs 1300 people. Over the last 2 years ANSTO has been one of NH Micro's key clients - They use NH Micro to help manufacture very precise parts and assemblies for their research applications, and often come to us when their internal workshops, and usual vendors tell them it cannot be done.

Just last week we shipped off a very complex and highly demanding project to the synchrotron in Melbourne. Currently they are building, in layman's terms, a new sensor for their particle accelerator. One of the main features of this new upgrade is that the sensor has to be able to move incredibly accurately. https://www.ansto.gov.au/x-ray-fluorescence-nanoprobe-beamline
In fact so accurately that for us, dealing in microns every day, we cannot fathom how precise this device will be. Our machines in the workshop regularly work in the micron and sub micron range. This is hard to visualise, but you can try by taking a sheet of paper, dividing the thickness of it 100 times, and you will be left with something 1 micron thick. Now, ANSTO's new device will be positioning around 300 times more accurately than that divided piece of paper. 3 Nanometers. Some more perspective. Dust that you find around the house is usually in the order of 10-20 Microns, a red blood cell is around 8 microns in diameter, the wavelength of red light is around 0.7 microns (700 nanometers), the diameter of a SARS-CoV-2 virus is around 100 nanometers (coronavirus!) and ANSTO's new device is still operating at accuracies smaller than that scale, at 3 nanometers... Just amazing.

Where NH Micro fits in, is in the manufacture of the motion and metrology components of this new device. Last year we built the motion platform that actually moves in these absolutely tiny increments (Photos will be coming of this, but they are still under an embargo), and just last week we manufactured the "ruler" that measures how far this motion stage has moved. In more detail, we really manufactured the holder, that holds 3 separate rulers to measure the devices displacement. The design of this "ruler holder" was completed by a team of incredibly talented engineers at ANSTO, and we were given the task to manufacture and assemble each component.
The challenge? Everything metallic was to be made from a very special material called invar. Invar is an Iron-nickel alloy that has an incredibly small coefficient of thermal expansion. In fact, it's used widely when you really don't want things to grow or move when they heat up and cool down. At ANSTO, they are keeping their environment incredibly well controlled, but even still, fractions of a kelvin can drastically alter the performance of your measurement. The tricky part about invar is that it is quite difficult to machine. It's sort of like machining bubble-gum mixed with sand. It wears out tools, and machining geometry to tight tolerances is not trivial. Not to mention, it's egregiously expensive! Mistakes are costly!

Between our Kern Micro HD 5 axis milling machine, our Makino u32j wire EDM, as well as countless hand tools and measuring tools, we were able to manufacture this one-off "ruler holder". This frame holds 3 laser interferometers, which bounce light off a surface and measure the change in displacement of the object that they are pointing at. The whole project took over 1 month in the workshop, and around 4 months overall, between waiting for material, tools and the like.
What's vital in projects like these is that we are able to handle the entire scope of work, "soup to nuts". Many workshops globally are able to mill Invar, or wire cut it, or put together components, or measure them accurately, but very few places have the key competency to do all of the above - especially in Australia. In fact, without our watchmaking knowledge, heritage, and expertise, even if we had all the machines, we would not be able to complete a project like this one. Manufacturing these ultra-complex assemblies is an engineering miracle in itself.

It's been a long road to get to this point, many failures, lots of learning and teaching opportunities, but in the end, we are happy to be able to offer our services to the Australian government, people and industry. Long live Manufactured in Australia!

Josh

Would you pay $500 for a slice of wagyu?

 

If you have three and a half hours to kill, here is a suggestion. A Deutche Welle documentary titled "Twenty Japanese businesses making the most expensive products."
A match made in heaven: Deutche Welle's masterful cinematography and objectivity showcasing the Japanese pursuit for perfection. And no, the documentary has very little to do with money or price; and everything to do with craftsmanship, patience and time.

The Japanese say that it takes 3 years to learn how put a piece of eel meat on a skewer. And a lifetime to learn how to grill it to perfection. A bar of ink takes four years to cure. Made exactly the same way as it has been for the past 400 years, by the same maker. The same level of attention to detail and pride goes into a hand made iron kettle to boil water for ceremonial tea, hand made master chef's knives, and katanas.

Our NH55 Timascus project - a watch where we make the entire case, dial, hands, and 80% of the internal components in our own workshop, started as an attempt to showcase our ability to make watches, in Australia, specifically for the Louis Vuitton competition.  A year and a half later, the series of 16 watches is just about to be completed. Those who follow us on Instagram have an opportunity to see first hand how complex and exciting this project is. Yet as we shape Timascus, Timascus is shaping us. We are learning not just about how to make a parts more precise and more beautiful, but also about us; ultimately, about our contribution to the world of bespoke horology. This is both painful and exciting at the same time; the same feeling of a marathon runner batting the last few kilometres of the race.

There is nothing to worry about - the feedback is great and support overwhelming. Yet with the every new watch assembled, we are wondering what the NH55 owner is going to look like? A watch enthusiast who already has two dozen Swiss top end watches looking for something unique and different; a local supporter who may find the watch so tempting that he will be ready to sacrifice two or three other watches just to get his hands on it; or perhaps, an overseas buyer who only invests in Independent makers. Or - just someone who will simply fall in love with the beauty of Timascus and say - I'll have it. The truth is: we really don't know who our 'typical' buyer is, nor if such a category of buyer even exists.

A number of visitors to our shop who saw the first few NH55 assembled asked "Are you happy?" The answer is - yes. I am personally, as well as the rest of the team. We are happy because the watch does represent what we wanted and intended it to: it represents us. It represents our ability to shape the Timascus to our absolute best ability, at this point in time.
Above all, we are happy that the project has demonstrated how serious we are about making watches.

Josh's Instagram post from last night sums it up very well: How many watches will be sold, and at what price they are going to be sold is really irrelevant. We focus on perfection.

I strongly suggest that you watch this short clip here:

https://www.instagram.com/p/C5UbwnePHbW/

Astron - The radiance of the early morning sky

 

Today we are introducing two newly arrived Seiko Astron. Both watches are limited edition (1,200 pieces worldwide) and are black titanium, fitted on a bracelet. Although they share the same concept—a purple star dial with gold hands and indices—they are essentially two different watches.

The first one, SSH145J, is made for a nerd. A buyer who wants to squeeze the last feature out of the 5X53 calibre movement. And the list of features is simply astonishing: Overcharge prevention function, power save function, perpetual calendar to February 28, 2100, world time function (39 time zones), dual-time function, day display, power reserve indicator, time transfer function (switching between the main-dial and sub-dial), GPS signal reception function (time zone adjustment, automatic time adjustment, manual time adjustment), satellite acquisition status display function, reception result display function, DST (Daylight Saving Time), function to prevent the GPS signal reception (in-flight mode), automatic hand position alignment function.

On the other hand, SSJ021J is a Japanese businessman’s watch. Austerity, simplicity, and elegance. A minimalist dial that focuses the wearer’s attention on the most important reason why a watch is worn, the time itself.

Having the two sitting on my bench next to each other, I am hard-pressed to make a final call. Would I want an Astron with all the bells and whistles that only an Astron can offer? Or an Astron that simply tells the time within 1 second over 100,000 years?
 
42.7mm Limited Edition Astron SSH145J

Boutique price: $4,250
41.2mm Limited Edition Astron SSJ021J

Boutique price: $3,450

Monday, March 11, 2024

I don't pay for love

 

As a subscriber to my newsletter, you know I don't beat around the bush. I tell it how it is. Many of you appreciate straightforwardness and are mature and smart enough to tell the difference between marketing fluff and a genuine opinion.

Let me get straight to it: I have a problem. A big problem which does not even have a solution. 
You see, I have no problem talking about watches. Even less, pulling them apart to their last components, undertaking complex repairs and adjusting them to perfection. I can also tell you why you should invest in a certain watch, why a certain design is timeless while sharing my excitement of their internal and external beauty. 

However when it comes to one particular brand and maker, I struggle. I feel extremely uncomfortable to talk about the brand. I am not exaggerating: even the thought of writing, causes me physical discomfort and real physical pain. That brand is Nicholas Hacko Watchmaker.
It's simple: it is not my job to talk about myself. That is rude. Inappropriate. Obnoxious.
On the other hand, finding anyone else capable of telling you the NH story is impossible. There is absolutely no one out there willing and able to share the NH excitement in an objective, unbiased, professional way. To tell you the truth: how difficult the journey of independence really is; how difficult it is to build a complex mechanism expected to perform flawlessly for decades to come; the sacrifice, tears, sleepless nights, countless hours behind the bench- and ultimate rejoice seeing a watch assembled and ticking. Literally the miracle of new life.

Let's not be unkind and generalise: not all influencers, bloggers, journalists and even sales people out there are purely motivated by money.
On the other hand, none of them will talk about me- or any other brand- for free. They talk nicely about watches because they are paid to talk nicely about watches. I don't pay for love.

And even if I would, the love I would get from them and service they would render in exchange would be rather humiliating: no kissing. 

The only other option, apart from self promotion would be withdrawal to complete anonymity. To make watches for a handful of true watch enthusiasts, to take my name off the dial, shut down all communication and like a monk, devote my life to horology. As pure and purist that might sound, it would be nothing more than an admission of self defeat and a betrayal to those who are yet to discover the NH brand.

I choose self promotion. I choose pain rather than humiliation of telling my story to those, who like Chinese whisperers would then retell it distorted, blinded by their ignorance and jealousy. 

No one can tell a watchmakers story other than a watchmaker himself.

Allow me to highlight just a couple of reasons why you should invest in a MK2.

Last year, during the Geneva watch manufacturing exhibition, EPHJ, I took the opportunity to show our titanium guilloche dial for the MK2 to Kari Voutilainen. He was impressed. If a Nicholas Hacko watch is good enough for Kari Voutilainen, it's good enough for you too.

Josh and his small team make complex engineering components that not just go into space, but are "crucial-to-mission". If NH can be trusted by space engineers, it can be trusted by you.

For the past few months, I have had five MK2 watches sitting on my desk, on public display. Without exception, every person who is into watches and appreciates the beauty was visibly impressed by the perfection of the colourful dials and the feathered hands. There, I said it: perfection. Not perfection that comes from Switzerland, or Japan, or Germany, but perfection attained in a country with no horological manufacturing tradition. 

If it is perfect for me, it's surely perfect for you.

This is the the story you need to know. For an Australian watch enthusiast, wearing an Australian watch made by a real watchmaker is a privilege. I invite you to join us on an exciting journey which has just begun. 

Thank you for being my ambassador, I am proud of you. 
Photograph by Vaughan Pearce.
MK2
- 40mm case size 316L steel
- Anti-reflective sapphire crystal glass
- Titanium Guilloché dial, with Grade 5 Titanium hands and applied numerals
- Soprod M100 automatic movement
- Water resistant to 10atm

Price: $7,900

A small quantity of MK2 watches have been assembled and are in stock, ready for immediate delivery.