What makes you, a collector, buy a watch? It’s a pretty open question I know, but one that’s worth thinking about. Is it simply the prestige of a brand name or something more? For me it’s less about the name on the dial, more about the feel of the watch. It’s not about the price or prestige, but the particular mix of style and substance that needs to hit the sweet spot between the two.
It’s a feeling that doesn’t just fit into horology, but pretty much every other field one might collect, be that the glamorous world of classic cars or, in the case of Ruark, the slightly more esoteric realm of high-end audio.
“The world of high-end audio is driven by enthusiasts,” says MD Alan O’Rourke, “who, like us, are passionate about sound and making the best sounding products possible. We know that our products are slightly more expensive than those of our competition, but we like to think that once seen and heard then the difference is obvious. This same story also applies completely to the art of fine watchmaking.”
It’s not often that we think of sound and timekeeping in the same image, but the similarities are certainly there. In fact, when it comes to the creation of any Ruark audio piece, similar thinking applies as in watchmaking.
“First,” says Alan, “we look at the design. A well-designed sofa should look comfortable before you even sit in it, a great car should project the image for which it is designed and likewise we think our audio systems visually radiate that they are designed for sound.”
For Ruark that design is pure retro, fitting given the theme of this issue. Pieces like the R7 take their inspiration directly from the heyday of radio, just with all the accoutrements a modern audiophile would look for. Given the watch industry’s current obsession with retro re-issues with modern movements – or indeed the car world’s love of classic cars with new engines – it’s a theme that we can really get on board with.
“Next is touch,” continues Alan. “Quality products should feel as good as the look, so the choice of materials is vital and in our case it’s the warmth of our hand-crafted cabinets, combined with the cool precision of our machined alloy and glass components.”
We’ve all tried on a beautiful watch and been… less than overwhelmed. I personally place huge importance on how a watch feels on the wrist. It’s why I prefer weightier steel pieces to advanced titanium or carbon ones and why buyers prefer Ruark to huge chunks of metal or cheap plastic cabinetry.
“Lastly is performance. You love the design and feel of a product, but for audio products it’s the sound that should leave a lasting impression.”
This is perhaps where the two fields of watchmaking and audio differ slightly. It takes a lot of attention to know if your watch is losing or gaining seconds over the course of days or weeks; it takes one listen to understand why it’s worth investing in a great sound-system.
Still, even if you can’t countenance the flagship R7 – or if you just don’t have the room for the substantial radiogram, the same level of quality is there in something like the entry-level R1 Bluetooth/Radio. At £220 it’s not pricey but as Alan says, “We still love the fact that the Sunday Telegraph referred to it as ‘the Aston Martin of DAB radios’.”
It’s a quality that’s certainly been recognised by other brands. After all, if there’s a better bespoke British furniture maker than LINLEY, I’ve yet to find them (that’s not an invite to send me suggestions, by the by) and that is precisely who Ruark has teamed up with for its latest launch.
“I believe it’s a perfect match and something that we hope to expand on in the future”, says Alan. “Both of us share the same passion to make the finest products available and the Tempo Radio is a perfect example of craftsmanship at its finest.”
Having tried it out for myself, I’m not about to disagree.
More details at ruarkaudio.com