Rapport London’s Dedication to Timekeeping in All Its Forms

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Born in 1898 as a clock manufacturer, Rapport London transitioned to the creation of watch accessories in the early 2000s: a profound understanding of its clientele and a genuine passion for their craft allowed the family-owned brand to live up to its fourth generation. Director Katie Goldblatt gives us an insightful panoramic of the brand’s past, present and future.

Katie Goldblatt, Director of Rappor London

As the great-granddaughter of Rapport London’s founder, Maurice A. Rapport, could you provide insight into your background? How has your lifelong connection with the company influenced your journey, leading to your official entrance into the family business?

My career began in the city of London as a chartered surveyor. Over the span of 16 years, I gained invaluable experience working with top-tier firms in one of the world’s most dynamic commercial property environments. During this time, I had the privilege of learning crucial business attributes and building relationships with individuals who possess a discerning desire for quality, a reverence for heritage craftsmanship, and an appreciation for the importance of brand narrative.

These experiences greatly influenced my approach to guiding the evolution of Rapport London when I officially became involved approximately 12 years ago.

After more than a decade of success in the city, I came to the realization that I had accumulated a wealth of skills that could greatly contribute to the globalization of our family business. While I had developed a strong foundation of business acumen, I recognized that there was a ceiling to what I could achieve in my previous role. It became clear to me that the skills I had acquired could be effectively transferred to benefit the growth and expansion of our family enterprise.

Rapport London’s trajectory has seen a transition from clock manufacturing to the production of timepiece accessories. Could you offer a brief overview of how and why Rapport London has adapted and evolved over time?

It’s a fascinating question that delves into the essence of our evolution. Reflecting back, one can recall a time when carriage clocks adorned the shelves and mantelpieces of homes, embodying a bygone era. However, as societal norms and technological advancements reshaped modern living, the demand for such traditional timepieces underwent a notable transformation. While the fundamental need for timekeeping persisted, the manner in which people interacted with time evolved with the advent of digitalization, manifesting in everyday items such as kitchen appliances and smartphones displaying the time.

This shift in consumer behavior necessitated a strategic pivot for Rapport London to remain relevant in an ever-changing market landscape. Leveraging our close partnerships with retail jewelers worldwide, we diligently listened to and adapted to the evolving preferences of our clientele. This enabled us to transition seamlessly into crafting accessories for watches and jewelry, aligning our offerings with the contemporary lifestyle choices of our discerning customers.

Moreover, our heritage of craftsmanship, honed through our factory in Wales, endowed us with expertise in working with premium materials like wood and metal. This proficiency naturally paved the way for us to explore new horizons beyond carriage clocks, propelling us into the realm of sophisticated timepieces and accessories.

When precisely did this transition take place?

It occurred approximately 20 years ago. Yes, quite some time has passed since then. However, what’s noteworthy is our innovative approach during this period. Upon closing the factory dedicated to carriage clocks, we ingeniously repurposed many of its components, including numerous cogs. These salvaged elements found new life within our winders, showcasing our commitment to creative design and sustainability. By seamlessly blending elements of the past with modern innovation, we aimed to preserve our heritage while embracing the future.

As a brand, what core values and beliefs does Rapport London embody, and how do these inform the design and production of your products?

Our brand essence revolves around four core values: quality, innovation, craftsmanship, and service. Rooted deeply in our heritage, Rapport London has been meticulously crafted over generations by our family. This legacy serves as the cornerstone upon which we have built our reputation, ensuring our customers receive nothing short of excellence in service, craftsmanship, and innovation across our global offerings.

At Rapport, we transcend mere aesthetics; we embody a commitment to providing convenience and luxury to future generations of watch and jewelry enthusiasts. Whether through the use of premium materials or pioneering design enhancements, our products are crafted to endure the test of time, standing as timeless pieces that exceed fleeting trends. Moreover, we remain steadfast in our dedication to sustainability, ensuring our production processes honor both craftsmanship and the environment.

Central to our ethos is our unwavering dedication to surpassing customer expectations. This commitment is evident in every aspect of our brand, from product design to post-purchase service.

In our marketing endeavors, transparency and storytelling are paramount. Our website serves as a comprehensive platform where consumers can delve into our brand narrative through engaging brand videos and insightful craft showcases. We believe in sharing our journey openly, as discerning consumers today value authenticity and connection with brands. Our longstanding presence in the industry, coupled with our status as a family-owned business, underscores both our heritage and our unique position in the market. While this brings its own set of challenges, it also affords us unparalleled advantages in fostering genuine relationships with our customers.

Sustaining a family business into the fourth generation is a remarkable achievement. What do you believe has been the key to Rapport London’s longevity, and what have been the principal challenges faced along the way?

That’s indeed a thought-provoking question. Maintaining the legacy of Rapport London across four generations is a source of immense pride for me personally. Our longevity can be attributed to our unwavering dedication to the discerning watch enthusiast, spanning continents from the UK to Europe, America, Asia, China, and the Middle East. By remaining steadfast in our commitment to understanding and catering to the evolving needs of our customers, especially as collectors, we have continually innovated across the generations.

Furthermore, I believe our culture and sense of identity are fundamental to our success. We have cultivated a work environment where passion for our craft and a deep-rooted pride in our heritage are central pillars. This collective ethos has not only sustained us through challenges but has also served as a beacon guiding us forward in an ever-changing marketplace.

What are some of your most beloved products, and what do you think makes them stand out to customers?

Our high gloss watch boxes truly stand out as one of our flagship offerings. Uniquely crafted by hand, these boxes undergo a meticulous process involving seven layers of lacquer, resulting in a luxurious finish that exudes sophistication. Renowned for their versatility and impeccable quality, our watch boxes are available in a variety of colors and sizes, catering to diverse preferences and needs.

Additionally, our travel range has garnered widespread acclaim, stemming from our deep understanding of our customers’ desire to safeguard their cherished timepieces while on the move. As global travel has become more commonplace, the demand for our travel accessories has surged, reflecting their essential role in ensuring peace of mind for watch enthusiasts worldwide.

One of our most prized products, embraced by discerning collectors globally, is our 20-winder. Designed to showcase and protect the finest timepieces, this winder epitomizes luxury and functionality. In a testament to our commitment to innovation, this particular winder incorporates cutting-edge technology, featuring a fingerprint ID for secure access—a feature we are particularly proud of. Despite our rich heritage, we recognize the importance of evolving with the times and embracing technological advancements, a challenge we have successfully navigated with this exceptional piece.

Our customers truly appreciate our commitment to innovation. However, we are mindful that innovation must be purposeful and tailored to each product’s unique requirements. While technology undoubtedly has its place, it’s essential to deploy it judiciously. We carefully consider how technological advancements can enhance the user experience without detracting from the product’s essence.

I do feel a profound sense of duty when it comes to ensuring the proper care of watches. I often liken it to caring for a car. If you leave a car parked for an extended period without running the engine, it’s susceptible to corrosion, with the battery potentially seizing up and the engine rusting. Similarly, a watch requires regular movement and maintenance to function optimally. Neglecting to wear it or properly maintain it can lead to significant servicing costs down the line. While our products don’t eliminate the need for servicing entirely, they do contribute to the ongoing care and maintenance of watches, ensuring they continue ticking smoothly. We’ve invested considerable time in research to ensure that our products cater to a wide range of watches, down to the smallest details like ensuring the watch box bezel doesn’t touch the upper lid. Continuous improvement is central to our ethos, and we remain committed to enhancing our products to better serve our customers. Ultimately, I believe education plays a crucial role in this process, empowering watch enthusiasts to make informed decisions about caring for their timepieces.

Are there any meaningful moments in the history of Rapport London that you would like to share with us?

In an industry where many luxury brands have succumbed to corporate ownership, Rapport London stands as a beacon of authenticity, preserving the distinctive personality traits and unwavering commitment to excellence that have characterized our brand over the past 125 years. Celebrating this milestone while remaining a family-run business and simultaneously expanding our global presence is indeed a profoundly meaningful achievement for us.

Moreover, the transition from traditional retail to the digital landscape presented its own set of challenges. However, it was the unprecedented circumstances of the pandemic that propelled us forward with remarkable speed. The global health crisis served as a catalyst, compelling us to accelerate our digital transformation efforts. Without the urgency imposed by the pandemic, the transition would likely have been more gradual. The seismic shift in consumer behavior, from brick-and-mortar retail to online platforms, underscored the necessity for us, as a small business, to adapt swiftly to evolving market dynamics.

Have there been any specific books, movies or trips that have profoundly inspired either your personal journey or the creative direction of Rapport London?

I consider myself fortunate to have traveled extensively, exploring diverse cultures across Asia, America, the Middle East, and India. Particularly, my experiences in India left an indelible mark on me. The rich tapestry of Indian craftsmanship, steeped in a history spanning thousands of years, deeply resonated with me. The vibrant gemstones, the kaleidoscope of colors—it was truly mesmerizing. Drawing inspiration from these experiences, I’ve often shared imagery and insights with our designers, influencing the color palettes and concepts of our products. I believe Rapport London can embody the timelessness and grandeur of iconic landmarks like the Taj Mahal, symbolizing enduring beauty and craftsmanship.

I prioritize travel not only for professional engagements but also for personal enrichment and inspiration. Recently, during the Christmas holidays, I had the opportunity to explore Vietnam—an extraordinary journey that left a profound impact on me. Immersing myself in its emerging economy, steeped in cultural richness and aesthetic beauty, was truly enlightening. I am drawn to destinations that offer unique perspectives and experiences, ones that challenge my preconceptions and broaden my understanding of the world.

Regarding the watch industry, my recent visit to Vietnam provided fascinating insights. Despite being an emerging economy, the presence of luxury watch stores, showcasing renowned brands, was ubiquitous. It struck me how, despite economic disparities, there exists a universal aspiration for luxury and prestige. This observation resonated with similar experiences in India, reaffirming the enduring allure of prestigious brands in diverse cultural contexts.

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