Friday, April 17, 2020

The Richest Man in Babylon

The measuring station in the workshop
This morning I got out of bed with three key thoughts on my mind. For a change, all three were good news.

The first one is really an answer for a number of watch enthusiasts who have contacted us recently- these are cashed up buyers who are eager to snatch up ‘super bargains’. Basically, they are looking for desperate sellers under enormous pressure to offload quality stock quickly. The good news here is that there aren’t any distressed sellers on the market as of today. Yes, many people have lost their jobs or been temporarily laid off, but in the past four weeks have we seen no signs of severe desperation.

Now if you think that I am cynical then it’s time to point out something very obvious: second hand watch dealers are no different to any other commodity dealers. The safest time to trade is in equilibrium- in other words, when times are normal and the supply and demand are balanced. When stock is too expensive or too cheap traders and dealers sit on the sideline and watch for any developments. I personally don’t like buying heavily distressed stock. A seller who sells his watch for a fraction of what it is worth is not a happy customer, and you won’t ever see him again. Of course, we don’t know where we are heading from now on but my gut feeling is that the worst is behind us and with a bit of luck we will weather the storm.

The second piece of good news is that our new team member James (we call him Jimmy) is fitting in nicely. We are at the end of the second week of his probation so I asked him last night just two short questions. First, what was the most exciting workshop moment so far? And second, have we met his expectations? I am a little bit embarrassed sharing this with you, but I will anyway:

"After two weeks here at NHW, I have experienced a small range of the processes that it takes to make a watch. It has given me a much greater appreciation for watchmaking and precision manufacturing. The most exciting moment I have had so far has been seeing our Kern Pyramid Nano (5 – Axis Machining centre) running the program I created for it and seeing the parts it produced. It’s an amazing feeling to take a drawing and turn it into reality for the first time with the mind-blowing precision that the Pyramid Nano offers. I look forward to a time when I can produce high precision and high-quality parts efficiently and confidently.

Have my first two weeks on the job met my expectations?

Working at NHW has exceeded my expectations. Honestly, I was not sure what to expect, but when I first met Nick at a Watch Talk Night in Sydney and heard him talk about how one of his most important roles is to be a facilitator of learning and development, I knew that the workshop here in Brookvale would be a great learning environment. In that respect it is exactly what I was expecting.

What I did not expect was how important the ‘precision mindset’ was to the everyday operations here. To manufacture watch movements demands a ‘100% precision 100% of the time approach’. This approach must be in the back of your mind the whole time, from design, to prototyping and through to manufacturing and assembly." 

Of course this is still the honeymoon phase, but I really hope that we will continue to grow together. We will keep you informed.

The third bit of good news I have for you today is a link to a free PDF download of one of the most important books ever written. The title is "The Richest Man in Babylon." I first read it 25 years ago and I read it again almost every year. This book is compulsory reading for all our staff and apprentices. The book was written in 1926 but its content is relevant now more than ever. If you haven't read it, I cannot think of a better time than today.

Link to PDF of "The Richest Man in Babylon":

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