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Time For A New Career As Vehicle Technician Launches Handcrafted Watches Made In Northumberland

A former garage owner with over 30-years experience in the vintage and modern motoring industry has turned his expertise in vehicle engineering to design and create unique handcrafted bespoke watches, and is now launching his own range at the age of 48.

Glen Anthony Jobling from Bedlington in Northumberland was inspired to change his career in 2015 as a successful garage owner in North Tyneside and become a horological entrepreneur after combining his love of automotive engineering and watches.

Glen Anthony Watches (GA) has now officially launched with a range of men’s and women’s watches designed, manufactured and assembled at his workshop in Wansbeck Business Park in Northumberland. All the parts of the watch are handmade on site by Glen except the Swiss movement, which he has sourced to meet his specific requirements.

The watches are very much influenced by Glen’s love of all things mechanical and automotive, with a design style which plays on the craftsmanship of the vintage cars he also used to restore, and the high tech materials of the latest sports cars.

Glen pays much attention to detail to the watches he creates, with carbon fibre, stainless steel and titanium, Allen bolts and tiny brackets connect the strap to the case to develop sports watches with finesse. His first range – the bespoke Synchro – is also interchangeable and can be updated for a new look with a range of different bezels. The dial and hands can also be matched to suit any colour such as a car or a sports racing team, and watch back engraved as part of the manufacturing process with precision machinery in the GA brand style.

The new vocation came as Glen began considering his options for a change in his traditional career in vehicle maintenance and MOT’s. Having been a technician since the age of 14 and following the footsteps of his Dad, who also ran a garage in Gosforth, Glen could have easily carried on until retirement. However, a desire to shake things up has now led Glen to turn a hobby into a viable business and use his engineering and technical skills, as he explains.

“With a lifelong love of watches, five years ago I was looking to buy a particular leading brand watch which I discovered did not include a proper movement – the watch’s working mechanism – that I expected it would. I went home to research the parts and bought the movement I wanted along with a dial, a case and a strap, and made my first watch. It was this process which really opened the doors to a world of precision engineering, design and production.

“I made a watch for my friend, which he loved, so I thought maybe I could start to personalise it and make my own case, and I went out and bought a lathe and a milling machine. I could then start the process of creating my own parts with the handmade cases, and I made a few more watches which sold very well.

“A friend who taught Computer Aided Design (CAD) at a local college visited and suggested I try the CAD design programme, which I did and that changed my life completely. I could then create watches in 3D and assemble them, but I wanted to turn them into real products. So I invested in CNC machinery to turn my CAD drawings into reality and began to design, manufacture and hand finish my own watch parts.”

Approaching 50, Glen thought now was the time to try and turn this into a viable business as he really wanted a new challenge. One of his garage staff had worked with him for 14 years since he was a young lad, so he talked to him about him about taking over the garage which he was really interested in. After getting some finance together, the employee bought the business over the last two years, and is now his own boss. This also provided a monthly income for Glen to invest further and learn how to make watches as a viable business, which he has spent the last two years focusing on before launching GA officially last month.

Glen continued: “I have learned so much over the past few years and now sales are really coming in, I can make the watches much faster as I have refined the process. As car repair is all computers now, for me the creative potential of watch making is unlimited, as I can design whatever I or the customer wants by making my own mechanical parts and for me, the more customisation the better.

“Launching the business is very exciting as I’m now able to show customers what we are making, with the opening of the showroom here at Wansbeck Business Park and the watch range on display for people to come and see. This is a dream come true as I pushed so hard in the development of the range, working 16 hours a day for two years to create a stylish finished product which is now selling well.”

He added: “This is a very exciting time, as I have always been in engineering but this is now much more high tech. Changing my career before 50 was one of my big drives and I am doing something I love that has revived my passion for problem solving on a design level.
For me, the end of my traditional career is now changing – it’s a brave move but worth it and proves it’s never too late.”