Paulin Turns Ten!
We can’t believe it’s been a decade since the Paulin sisters put pen to paper and created Paulin Watches. To mark the occasion, we thought we’d take you on a trip down memory lane, looking at ten significant achievements from the last ten years.
1. Opening our stores
In 2015 we opened our first store on Parnie Street, just off Saltmarket in Glasgow. Opening the doors to customers and showing off our complete collection of watches and bespoke straps allowed us to get our name out there, and for that, Parnie Street will always have a special place in our hearts.
But by May 2017, we had already outgrown our Parnie Street walls, so we packed up and relocated to a corner unit on Great Western Road in Glasgow’s West End. In our bright and beautiful store, we finally had the space to open up to fellow young Scottish companies like Risotto Studios and Trakke Bags and showcase their fantastic work alongside our collections.
Our Great Western Road store introduced us to many new and now loyal customers, helping us become a recognised and celebrated Glaswegian brand.
Our success in the West End allowed us to expand, opening a new store in Stockbridge, Edinburgh. Our Edinburgh shop doubled up as a gallery, and we invited local creatives to exhibit their work to Paulin customers.
As we all know, the pandemic took its toll on the high street, and with in-person shopping curtailed, we decided to move online. We now operate from our beautiful studios, shared with our friends, family and collaborators at anOrdain, overlooking the People’s Palace on Glasgow Green.
2. Plastic-free packaging
Sustainability was one of our three core values when founding Paulin, so in 2015 we moved to plastic-free packaging. Cork has become a staple material for us, replacing the foam usually used as watch box inserts. Cork is 100% natural, recyclable and biodegradable, and the type we use is made from pulped off-cuts, using electricity powered by the cork itself. In 2018 we extended our use of cork to our wall clocks.
The rest of our packaging is made from paper and card, which we source and produce in the UK wherever possible. Although we have eliminated plastic from our chosen materials, it is unfortunately still widely used by factories and shipping companies for protecting goods in transit. We’re already taking steps to find alternatives and to ensure we work with suppliers with the same values and aims as us.
3. The Geo typeface
Our Creative Director, Imogen, specialises in type design, so bespoke numerals have been a big part of our story since she joined the team in 2016. Geo was our first custom font, released in 2017 on the Geo Mini and Commuter Numerical watches.
Our aim with this range was to build on our best-selling Commuter design, which featured a simple minimalist dial. We wanted to maintain the elegance of the previous model, so we designed a set of light and refined numerals with 45-degree angles, sharp points and geometric forms.
We looked to Glasgow’s own Charles Rennie Mackintosh for influence – taking the purity of forms of his art-nouveau lettering and distilling them down to create our contemporary counterpoint.
4. Creating the Paulin wall clock
At the end of 2017, we launched our wall clocks, which were a huge success, selling out within weeks! The design was part of our Geo range, using the same bespoke type as the Commuter Numerical and Geo Mini, and originally came in two colourways. We were thrilled to see them popping up around Glasgow, and soon expanded the colour choices to create over 50 different options.
One year later, we released our current model, made from cork and aluminium. This change in production was based not only on aesthetic choices, but was also an effort to source more of the parts locally. Our clock components currently come from Berkshire, Sheffield, Portugal, Spain and Thailand, and they are always assembled in Glasgow.
5. Retailing in MoMA Design Store
In 2018, we were thrilled to be welcomed into the prestigious walls of the MoMA Design Store in New York. For our Geo Minis (and later our Neo watches) to sit alongside the works of some of the top designers and artists in the world was a huge accomplishment and something we still feel very proud of.
6. Art on the Subway and other artist collaborations
Part of the ethos of Paulin is to provide platforms for other artists and makers to showcase their work, and we’ve been fortunate over the last decade to have worked with many amazing creatives. When opening our Great Western Road store, we worked with sign painter Erin Bradley Scott, who brought our vision for the shop to life with beautiful hand-painted signage.
More recently, we worked with Katie Forbes (KFRBS) on a collection of playful umbrellas, which have proved very handy in the Glaswegian weather! She also showcased her work in our Stockbridge store, wowing our Edinburgh customers.
Many of you may remember our Art on the Subway series, using the advertising spaces in Glasgow’s Subway to showcase different creatives to the commuters of Glasgow. We worked with the likes of Psyche Magazine and artist Gregor Wright.
We are proud to have worked with many inspirational artists and to have shared our journey and growth with them, but it doesn’t stop there! We’re always working with new makers, so keep your eyes peeled for new and exciting collaborations.
7. Collaborating with anOrdain
In 2020, we collaborated with anOrdain, pooling resources, expertise and artistic vision to create the Neo.
In the early stages of development, we realised we’d need some help realising our vision. As the anodised aluminium dials were to be manufactured in the UK, we wanted to keep printing and assembly of the watches close to home. We didn’t have to look too far – anOrdain already had the skills and resources we needed. Additionally, our very own Charlotte Paulin happens to be married to Lewis Heath, the founder of anOrdain.
If you’re interested in learning more, we’d recommend anOrdain’s comprehensive run-through of the pad printing and assembly processes.
The case design was a labour of love from anOrdain’s product design engineer, Euan. The design emerged from a series of practical decisions, which we embraced to give a unique and decidedly retro aesthetic. To keep the watch within our desired price bracket, we opted for the Seiko NH35A, a relatively thick movement. As a result, we decided to utilise a Hesalite box-section crystal, which rises above the height of the case, allowing us to slim down the metal case profile and give a sleeker feeling on the wrist.
We couldn’t have imagined the splash that the Neos would make with our customers, and it has quickly become our best-selling watch. Not a week goes by where we don’t get messages asking when they will be back in stock, and all we can say is: watch this space!
8. Developing anodised aluminium dials
Our much-loved Neo boasts more than just a fun and playful design; the dials are made from dyed anodised aluminium which, to our knowledge, is a completely unique dial material in the watch market.
Anodising is a controlled oxidation process which causes an oxide to form on the surface of an anode – in this case, the Neo dial. This process creates a barrier that protects the dials and electrically insulates them, allowing them to be coloured later.
Initially, the Neos were coloured by Glasgow artist Helen Swan, who hand-dyed the dials for the early watches using the same process she employs in her jewellery practice. Helen summed up the process perfectly: “It is about taking industrial materials and making something beautiful out of it”.
And something beautiful we did make! As demand for the Neo’s grew, we switched production to a company in England specialising in chemical treatment.
9. The Wim typeface
The Neo is the culmination of ten years of learning and growth, with each element meticulously considered by our design team. A desire to push the limits of design and production at every step resulted in a product that we couldn’t be more delighted with.
The typeface of this watch is no exception. Our second custom font, Wim, also designed by Imogen, is named after the Dutch graphic designer Wim Crouwel. Although similar to the Geo font in its use of grid systems, the two couldn’t be more different in statement. In combination with the bold colours, unique texture of the anodised dial, and playful layout, the resulting watch is impactful, energetic and distinctive.
10. Coming August 2023
And finally, our tenth big accomplishment of the last ten years! For now, we’ll keep this one to ourselves – get ready for a whole new era for Paulin!