It is an absolute honor to be able to feature Scott Devon on Time 2 Talk Watches. As I met with him last week I truly felt like I was sitting next to an innovator with a vision similar to Steve Jobs. Not unlike Steve Jobs and the iPhone, Scott Devon and his Devon Tread is breaking down the traditions of the establishment. The talents of Scott Devon and his team are evident when you have one of their timepieces on your wrist. A true marvel of technology and artistry there seems to be no limit in what Devon Works can create. Thank you to Scott Devon for taking the time to be a part of Time 2 Talk Watches.
Question: How did you get started in the industry? Can you give us some background on the brand?
Answer: I never expected to be a watchmaker. I was working on a car design eventually named the Devon GTX with a prototype builder in Newport Beach, California. My initial idea was inspired by Carroll Shelby and the Cobra. With the goal of making a few limited edition cars that could be raced successfully. During our build phase I was introduced to another concept car designer that was working for Honda named Jason Wilbur.
It is somewhat common among designers to have multiple design studies that influence a particular project. While presenting his concept car designs at Honda, Jason included some inspiration designs and one being a watch that told time with numbers on interwoven belts. One member of the committee said “forget the car, make the watch!”
The challenge was no one within the watch industry said it could be made.
At the same time as I was debuting the GTX I had the idea to form my own creative laboratory. A virtual business where advanced design and engineering could develop complex consumer products.
The Devon GTX went on to set world lap records at Laguna Seca and Willow Springs but the financial crises in 2008 put an end to that project.
Jason and I then began to work on how to manufacture this masterpiece of design and found a small boutique aerospace electronics company in California and formed a partnership with them to develop and engineer the revolutionary timepiece.
Question: Devon Works features an extremely unique design, how did you come up with it? What were some of the inspirations for it?
Answer: My idea was to make it a hybrid of electro/mechanical movements making it “somewhat” affordable vs. a traditional mechanical movement that would cost in the hundreds of thousands for each piece. Plus it needed much more power to move the belts than a spring mechanism.
The aerospace firm sourced the parts from suppliers to aeronautics and the breakthrough came when they tested a glass reinforced nylon material used in gauges by NASA and Boeing. The material is light, doesn’t stretch, and is highly durable which turned out to be a perfect solution to the belts we use to tell time on the Devon Tread 1.
After two years of further development and tons of testing along with constant doubt that it would function properly we began to be encouraged that we could in fact manufacture this compelling timepiece.
Our big break came when one of the world’s premier collectors and horological historians, Dr, Bernard Cheong from Singapore blogged about our invention using glowing terms like “revolutionary, historical, and epic”.
Shortly thereafter, we were nominated for the prestigious Grand Prix d’Horlogerie in Geneva for concept watch design of the year. MB&F’s Thunderbolt took the prize but we were informed it was a close vote. Being LA based and the only American brand to ever be nominated we showed well if not controversial among the Swiss establishment. Which has a reputation of being very conservative and somewhat closed to foreign brands.
Another breakthrough came when our short video on the watch went viral on YouTube. Over 600,000 hits!
Tourneau in New York wanted a short exclusion to debut the watch and it has grown globally since it’s introduction.
Question: For those that are not familiar with the brand, what would be one thing that you would like people to know about Devon Works?
Answer: What sets Devon Works Lab apart is that we consider advanced engineering as important as advanced design. It was what worked on the GTX Supercar as well as the Tread 1 Watch. We also employed the same strategy on the Devon Harrier and Edge Motorcycle concepts.
We are more like a spinoff of Apple than say Patek Philippe.
Question: Do you consider yourself a watch collector? If so, what was the timepiece that transformed you into a watch enthusiast?
Answer: I am not a collector of watches but have come to appreciate the history and complexity of watch making.
My Father was a successful entrepreneur and purchased many Rolex watches for himself and his executives over his years in business.
He re-engraved his gold jubilee Rolex with my name on it before he passed and my Grandfather bequeathed his prized Grandfather clock to me so maybe they were clairvoyant!
Question: What do you feel will be the next trend in the watch industry?
Answer: I believe the next trends in watch making will come from brands like ourselves, MB&F, Christophe Claret, Urwerk, Ivan Arpa and HYT to name a few. We have a design in development for 2014 that I feel redefines what is possible. We hope to give our good friend Maximilian Busser some competition and would be honored to be included among the rarified avant garde brands again.
Question: Warren Sapp was just voted into the NFL Hall of Fame and he is your brand ambassador. Since he is a part of Devon Works it must have been a proud day all around, can you tell us what it means to a company to have such a high profile ambassador?
Answer: Warren Sapp is a very close personal friend and we talk close to everyday so I was delighted that he was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. It means an incredible amount to those guys whom get into the Hall as you can tell by their emotions when selected. I will be in Canton, Ohio on Aug 3rd with Warren at the ceremony.
We have around 25 athletes and celebrities that have asked to be watch ambassadors. It’s something we don’t necessarily seek out but if they come to us and like what we invented and we in turn like them we give them a watch to wear and help us promote but we don’t pay anyone to wear our watch.
We are going to be in the new “Pitbull” video next month. His YouTube hits average over 200 million so it can be an amazing way to get exposure on the watch. The actor, Josh Duhamel is a big fan of the brand and promoted the Transformer movie with our watch. We might use Josh in our Ads for our new Tread 2 watches which debut this June.
Question: What would one find in your personal watch collection these days?
Answer: I personally rotate wearing each of our 7 different offerings. I get serial number 1’s which I probably should preserve but I’m also the test pilot my team says.
Question: I have admired your iPhone app and we are all waiting for an Android OS version, is this in the works?
Answer: Ehren Bragg is our Managing Director and had executive positions at Ferrari and Lamborghini prior to working with me. Jeff Stephenson is our brilliant Chief Engineer. And we are now working with a marvelous young talented Designer from Serbia named Marko Petrovic.
As part of one of our design studies Marko came up with the iPhone App. We are looking into developing the software for our website based upon Marko’s idea and then possibly convert it into an App. for iPhone and Android OS version.
Question: What do you think brings so much passion to watch collecting?
Answer: I’ve come to realize how passionate watch collectors can be and they are our best customers. Many have said that our watch receives the most attention and they enjoy demonstrating the movement to amazed onlookers. We think that’s very fun to do ourselves.
Question: What is next for Devon Works?
Answer: Tread 2. We have designs at Devon Works Lab that we are committed to making over the next few years that I am very excited about. We have had a lot of positive feedback for Tread 2. It’s smaller, more traditionally shaped, and will retail for under 10k. We will also debut another special edition of Tread 1 called Exoskeleton at Baselworld in May. We just reinvested in a state of the art prototype machine at the Lab and are looking forward to expanding our global brand development efforts.
So for never expecting to be in the watch making industry I now feel we have a global legacy brand in the making.