Anti-fingerprint coating, how presumptuous! The Watch Journalist, me, feeling third person pompous, no journalistic education and a made-up title, remembering the press release. Surely this is a tool watch, to be bashed about for effs sake, not lovingly fondled? Like a minimal Sinn with too few indices, looking uncomfortably alien after my last Schofield, the sadly missed polished steel Signalman GMT. Sold (wife’s gun to my head) to another Zine contributor, damn you, Nudds! 

    So why the slippery surfaces, and the look, like a dark short-horned version of a mermaid’s purse on a wide strap with a big, rather lovely buckle. And this is what the ship’s captain  Ellis could come up with after 15 years of considering a new shape? I don’t even like grey PVD, yet the magic box of delights, sent from England promises compact wearability.

    Confounded! Good thing I didn’t write up article intro without the all-wrong PVD on my wrist with the too-large buckle. I am fondling it, and get the anti-fingerprint presumptuousness. Sure it is a tool watch and will surely be used as one, but it throws me. Just like 14 years ago with Ellis’ firstborn, the 500m depth-rated Signalman GMT with its smooth case sans dive bezel. Slippery surfaces have traveled through Sussex’s watch generations, spiked with tech-feasting carbon fibre and gilt Treasure. 

    Yet the juxtaposition maketh a Schofield watch, and it is being handled by me, the PVD-darkness annoyingly just right. It took ages to get the strap clicked in, slippery delights of soft curves stopping me. Just like the curve ball Ellis has whacked out of the grounds with The Light. A name that feels odd(ly fascinating) yet fits like a soft glove of India Rubber. Of which The Watch Journalist had never heard, thinking it was supple leather and has now learnt that you would not want a glove made from India Rubber…

    Don’t even get me started on the eternal calculus of the GMT hand and the elated feeling when sussing it out. Humans don’t read operating instructions anymore, at least not stuck-up Watch Journalists. But the most annoying thing is how it all fits, and is softly comfortable despite its straight lugs, feeling somehow home. Leica-like in its slippery anti-fingerprint monochrome, avec the Watch Journalist’s cliché of ‘a pop of red’ - two pops even, damn you Ellis!


    Sometimes I’ll take the gamble, it’s fun, gambling, I do it with the internet every day, for everything new and untrusted. I even gamble buying perfume based solely on the poetry of the descriptions. I do it with new suppliers too, sometimes when the stakes are higher; like a square metre of ballistic nylon being the wrong grey. It is informed faith, some like to call it judgement. If it goes wrong then it's on you, the decision maker - it was poor judgement.

    Perhaps you were misled with poor descriptions, inaccurate renders and whatever else the charlatans can pull from the bottomless hat of scams. We can counter the risk - buying more hoping that a spray effect will hit the target.


Couple gambling with an eye so keenly trained to spot flaws that receiving new stuff through the post is generally disappointing. This is me - most times, utterly underwhelmed by others efforts. My plea - do better!

    The antidote is simple, go out and meet the people who would otherwise be selling blind. Doors open through conversation, this is something I learnt a long time ago and preach often. But I, like you, don’t take my own advice kindly. The reluctance to move from your comfort zone is because it is a bubble containing a sofa, tv, devices and ice-cream. The skin of that bubble is made from fear. You have to pass through the fear to find the magic, for most experiences outside of the comfort zone is indeed magic.

    So, yesterday I drove to see a supplier of special leathers 40 miles from the Sugar Free shop. I went for something drab but came away with leathers that looked like Quality Street wrappers. These will make the prettiest straps and that was well worth the effort of not listening to my inner protests.

    And then, this morning, I received by post, and quite by surprise, a box of tweed fabric with a note: 'Found in my wife’s, grandmother’s, mother’s attic, who once made dresses with it. Maybe you can make use of it, give it away if not'. The sender had remembered a conversation we had years prior, where I mentioned I am always on the lookout for new materials. It was a conversation had in a situation where I was well out of my comfort zone but pushed through the fear anyway. We make a strap from this tweed called 'Purple One' AKA 'Some Bloke’s Tweed' and it is a very special Sugar with memories of bravery, fun times and generosity.


    Why we buy expensive things.

    A recent research paper*, discussed the "double-edged" sword of luxury consumption, identifying a tension between self-authenticity and self-enhancement that can lead to a psychological cost for consumers. In a time of increased authenticity and keeping it real, they discovered that luxury purchases often led to feelings of inauthenticity, feelings at odds with the supposed status benefits of luxury goods. However, they also discovered that individuals with chronically high psychological entitlement** were inoculated against this inauthenticity - not sharing the general perception of luxury as undue privilege but rather as their privilege. This may come as no surprise to users of Instagram, a platform built to prey on feelings of inauthenticity and magnify psychological entitlement. Luxury consumption may therefore be the most nihilistic of vices, ever reducing our self-worth through a series of large purchases. Or, perhaps, we're just worth it. 

    *The Impostor Syndrome from Luxury Consumption (Gore, et al. 2019)

    **i.e., an inflated self-view stemming from an innate feeling of being special and superior (Campbell et al. 2004)


    “Short on cash, long on straps,” he beamed at me. I couldn’t actually see his mouth. It was obscured by a mountain of colourful straps that sat between us on the brightly clothed table of a quaint coffee shop on the corner of a deserted street in a town affectionately referred to by the locals as “the arse-end of nowhere.” I could only be sure he was smiling by the creases at the corner of his eyes. Bright blue. Just like twenty or thirty of the maybe-150 watch straps piled up between us. A normal-sized human would not have had their view as obscured as I found mine, but along with a financially-crippling addiction to horology, my genes had blessed me with a comically short torso.

    “I guess I’m buying the cake, then?”
    “Much obliged,” came the mouthless reply. “But don’t fret. I’ll make it up to you. I’ll let you have one of my straps.”
    “I don’t need one,” I grumbled, thumbing the broken-in-but-still-perfectly-serviceable Terry Crafted calf strap that held my watch to my wrist. “I’ve got a couple of spares back home.”
    “Spares?” His voice rumbled like a preening thunderstorm. “SPARES?”
    “Yeah, spares,” I said, perturbed but trying not to show it. “What’s the big deal?”
    “STRAPS,” he spat, “Are more than spares. They are more than replacements. They are the game. The whole nine yards. The big shebang. They are what connects your watch to your outfit and thus what connects the watch to you.”
    “I don’t really do outfits,” I protested. He rose up to his full height, leaned over the table, and slapped me round the chops.
    “YES,” he barked, “YOU DO.”
    “I do?” I said, rubbing my reddening cheek. Judging by his reaction I had deserved a slap but I still wasn’t wholly convinced.

    “Of course you do. You wear a watch; your watch doesn’t wear you. Do you expect me to believe you simply fell out of bed into that delightful throstle cardigan that then magically paired itself with brown brogues, a brown belt, and a classically-styled, white-dialed watch on a brown strap without your conscious, or even unconscious intervention?”
    “Well, no, but I’d hardly call it an outfit…”
    “SEMANTICS, dear boy. Nothing more.”
    “If you say so.”
    “I know so,” he purred, fingering a metallic blue leather strap that reminded me of a Christmas tree chocolate… “How much money do you have in your pocket right now?”
    “I dunno,” I shifted uncomfortably in my seat. “Forty, 50 quid, maybe?”
    “Flash git.”
    “What can I say… Business has been good.”
    “You want to buy a new watch?”
    “I’m not sure that’ll cover it,” I said, lamenting the fact even a basic Swatch was these days out of reach.
    “Oh, but it will, it will. You must know that to acquire a new watch you don’t need a new watch at all?”
    “You mean…”
    “Straps, dear boy! Straps! A new strap or an old strap (just a different strap) can change your life! Get creative! Think outside the box! Roll the dice! Experiment! Free your mind! The days of sticking religiously to the strap upon which your watch was delivered are GONE! Open your mind and free your wrist.”

    The cake arrived. One slice of carrot, one slice of an oozing chocolate sponge.
    “Which one do you want?” I asked, keen to avoid another barrage of exclamation marks.
    “Both,” he said, resolutely. “And I’ll give you another strap, NAY, another watch for your trouble. Variety, is, after all, the spice of life.”

    E01/A06/ROB NUDDS

    Just saying the word ‘packaging’ will put you off reading further. It is boring, Who cares? You don’t give a hoot when choosing a product but when it arrives, I grant that one is pleased at best - if it is good. But me, the maker of stuff, I care as much about making cool packaging as I do about the thing inside. I deliberate over the design of a sticker as much as I would designing a whole village (this is my dream thing to design - England needs me!). Designing packaging is demanding and that’s not because I don’t like it or I find it too hard, it is because it is a really time consuming and thinky.

    Let’s look at the very broad constraints I have set myself for all packaging;

    Be kind; specifically to the Earth.
    Be different.
    Be cool; the easy bit ;-)
    Be inexpensive (how cheap is cheap?)

    Cool and cheap is possible but it takes time. I have to resist the temptations to print boxes on the inside and die-cut this and that. To splurge on moulded mycelium inserts or resort to toxic foams just because impressing you is a priority. I think the Earth is the priority even over a sale. That is flippant to say and I don’t think I have ever lost a sale because of compromised cardboard. But the question persists, how do I make packaging that fulfils all the mechanical and aesthetic constraints whilst keeping it cheap and avoiding the easy route that absolutely will hurt the planet? The answer is, and I know you have heard it before, by thinking. By thinking and prototyping, cutting and folding, hours of image searches and playing with stock samples.

    The Sugar Free strap boxes are made in Woolwich, London, by a family run company that has been around since the war, they make our boxes to my design in Kraft-lined Grey Board with both brass and steel staples (gold and silver) instead of glue. Inside is another eco-foiled tray in the same board that carries your strap. All for a price that comes off the top not added on. Meaning if I can find a way to do the job properly your money goes into the product not its box.