Mike Cardew. FBHI Watchmaker interview with Eternal Tools

1. When did your interest in horology begin, and who or what inspired you?

My interest in clocks and watches began when I was very young, maybe 7-8? I used to stand next to my father who repaired the watches of various work colleagues. He would generally do this on a Sunday morning and then would go into Birmingham the following Saturday morning for any parts he required. In time he taught me to repair those watches and I would repair several each Sunday.

However, when the ‘mechanical crash’ came in the late 70s, we stopped repairing and I didn’t touch a watch for many years.

My interest was re-kindled when after having a family, I found time for a hobby…..resulting in me now making watches, which I have been doing now for nearly 20 years.

2. Do you have a shop or home workshop that you work from, tell me about it?

I have a small, but well equipped workshop (studio) in my home. I also have a further workshop housing my CNC milling machine.

Mike Cardew. FBHI Watchmakers workshop. CNC milling machine, lathe and bench

3. What are your favourite timepieces and why?

Wow difficult one..I guess it has to be one of my own make, probably my tourbillon wristwatch. Why…because I made almost every part!

The Mike Cardew FBHI Tourbillon wristwatch. Every part has been made by hand by self taught watchmaker Mike Cardew

4. What tools could you not live without?

Probably a knife and fork!!

But in terms of my watch-making, I think it is now my CNC milling machine. I can achieve so much in terms of designing and making complex shapes that without it I would be back to the rather square format for cases I make.

The ability to create physical parts from concepts drawn in 3D is a great challenge and rewarding experience.

5. What do you find the most frustrating or difficult repair job or task?

The most frustrating task is without doubt trying to achieve perfection and yet finishing a job (Knowing its not absolutely perfect)!

Here's a guitar watch that Mike made for his son, along with some others...

Mike Cardew watches. Every part hand made by Mike: watch cufflinks, guitar watch and other wristwatch

6. Do you feel concerned about the future of the watch and clock industry and if so why?

I do get concerned at how the Swiss are limiting parts availability, as I see it, long term this will harm the watch industry by creating a Swiss monopoly. What will happen is that repairs will be carried out using inferior materials.

Of course, on the other hand it will encourage other manufacturers (non Swiss) to up their game! We may start seeing more non Swiss quality watches (Some Chinese makers are certainly well on the way here).

7. What’s next? Any interesting projects or dreams you wish to fulfil?

The next watch…whatever it is!! The next project for me is always a great challenge I relish.

8. Other Information

Perhaps I should add here; that I generally do not make my watches for commercial gain (although I have carried out a few commissions for particular customers). I make watches because I enjoy making them.

By training I am an electronics Engineer, but I now only work 3 days a week so that I can spend 2 days watch-making.

Hand made wristwatches by Mike Cardew FBHI


Thanks Mike for a great interview, what a great talent you are. Find out more about Mike and his watchmaking on his website: www.cardew-watches.co.uk