Case Study: CAST Watches – product development to market
When the Director of CAST Watches, Hayley Fraser-Webb, needed a Product Design Consultancy to take their prototype for a fully customisable watch on to the next stage of development, Cambridge Design Technology (CDT) stood head and shoulders above the rest from the moment they had their first conversation.
The idea for CAST had been three years in the making, and various prototypes had been created. Hayley summarises:
“When I contacted various product design companies about our project, Cambridge Design Technology stood out for their genuine enthusiasm and interest in the product. They immediately understood what we wanted to achieve.”
Founded in 2019, CAST is a brand of fully customisable, highly collectable watches, founded by former graphic-design lecturer Hayley Fraser-Webb.
Hayley’s dream for CAST watches had formed years earlier when she had the idea to harness the talents of different independent artists, illustrators and designers to create custom and limited edition faces for a new designer watch brand.
Customers can build and purchase their watch with a face design of their choosing, and then buy new and additional faces to suit outfits, seasons or colours from CAST’s website.
All the watch faces can be easily interchanged using CAST’s unique watch casing and a new improved face holder, designed by Cambridge Design Technology. Watch faces can match with almost anything, from a pair of customisable Vans to a particular Liberty fabric.
Hayley’s original requirement for Cambridge Design Technology was to evolve the CAST watch from an early prototype into an optimised ready-for-market product, focusing on its form, appearance, function and manufacturability.
It was important to create a product that maintained the aesthetically pleasing form, and improved the function and usability, which were the shortcomings of the first prototypes.
In particular, the existing internal/sliding ‘face’ holder needed to be re-engineered to ensure a snugger, smoother fit.
The watch would need modification to make a strong casing that could withstand frequent changing of the face. The holder needed to be robust to enable quick and easy removal of the existing face, and insertion of the replacement.
Finally, the product would need to be ready for a market launch in the Autumn of 2020, ready for the Christmas shopping season.
Why Cambridge Design Technology was selected
Having already been impressed by CDT’s can-do approach and extensive product design portfolio, Hayley Fraser-Webb knew that CDT could develop the CAST watch and bring it to market, commenting:
“In the early stages of the prototype development we worked with a manufacturer in China, who were great, however their ability to take the watch to the next level was out of their comfort zone as this watch was a completely new concept to them, which they wrestled with. My investor suggested that we find an experienced UK-based product developer who could add value and work with me to get my watch ready to go to market. CDT fit the bill in every way!
“Jon and Jack explained the full development process they wanted to take me through and were always willing to answer my many questions.
“They engaged with me in a way that was much more straightforward and simpler than other companies had – it felt right; I just knew I had to work with them.”
CDT first produced three different ‘face’ holder designs to fit the watch faces into the casing after seeing the initial prototype with the ill-fitting earlier versions.
This led to CDT redesigning the whole casing, including the key used to open the hidden compartment, also providing detailed specifications in PowerPoint for the manufacturers.
“The new designs from CDT resulted in something beautiful. They turned a half-finished prototype into marketable, high-quality product.
“CDT also produced high quality 3D animated renderings of the CAST watch to demonstrate the concept of easily interchangeable watch faces.
“Thanks to the help and support of CDT, the new CAST watch launched in October 2020 in plenty of time before the Christmas period.”
Hayley Fraser-Webb sums up her experiences of working with Cambridge Design Technology:
“CDT consistently went the extra mile to make sure the product worked smoothly. They didn’t cut corners and were constantly looking for ways to improve the design. I really appreciated their hands-on approach.”
By working with CDT, Hayley Fraser-Webb benefited from decades of product design and development expertise, backed by the latest design techniques and technologies.
Ultimately, she was able to launch her innovative new high-quality CAST watch on-time and without any unexpected costs, even amid a global pandemic.
“Working with Cambridge Design Technology was the best decision for my project – I owe them a lot.
“They supported us all through the uncertain period of 2020 without a hitch. We are thrilled with the end result – the watch is absolutely beautiful, as we’d hoped.
“I would recommend CDT to anyone who wishes to launch their own product.”
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