From Shipbuilding History to Horological Fame: Nomadic Puts Belfast on the Watchmaking Map

Peter McAuley - Founder of Nomadic Watches

Inspired by Belfast’s rich shipbuilding history, the innovative watch brand Nomadic is putting Belfast on the international watchmaking map. Founded and led by former mechanical engineer, Peter McAuley, Nomadic has already garnered critical acclaim and a loyal international customer base. In the past year, the company has won funding, received awards, and is now launching its new boutique HQ and advanced assembly facility at the historic Scottish Provident Building in Belfast City Centre.

These achievements are made all the more impressive considering the competitive nature of the watchmaking industry and the sheer number of quality ‘microbrands’. Nomadic has distinguished itself with a blend of contemporary design and distinctly Irish heritage, appealing to watch enthusiasts worldwide with high-quality and accessible timepieces. Its flagship model, the Maraí 401, has now been sold across 32 countries and on all continents of the world except for Antarctica.

Nomadic’s growth and success have helped it to secure funding from Invest NI through the Ambition to Grow programme. Announced in October 2022, the £1.3 million package offers regionally focused support to assist ambitious and innovative small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). Nomadic was awarded £30k enabling it to create 3 new jobs, accelerating development and brand growth to serve a global market through direct-to-consumer sales.

In addition to securing funding from INI, Nomadic received ‘Highly Commended’ in the prestigious Belfast Telegraph Business Awards. The panel of judges, led by chair Clare Guinness, Belfast City Council innovation district director, pored over a record number of entries to come up with a shortlist of 101 companies across 17 categories. McAuley went on to win the “Young Leader of the Year” award from the YLNI, a coveted award with a prestigious line-up of former winners, highlighting Nomadic’s growth, innovation, and entrepreneurial spirit.

To boost its production capacity and retail presence, Nomadic has just launched its Belfast HQ. Home to a boutique retail experience and an advanced watch assembly facility, the likes of which do not currently exist on the Island of Ireland. This will enable the brand to produce its timepieces locally and offer clients the opportunity to see behind the scenes. Peter McAuley, founder of Nomadic, said: “At a time when most businesses are retreating from the high street, Nomadic HQ shows our passion and commitment to the city and our craft. We’re on a mission to put Belfast firmly on the horological map.

Nomadic is contributing to the growth of the local economy and creating new job opportunities. Nomadic also has exciting plans for its next watch line, scheduled for launch in late 2023. With this new collection, the company aims to further showcase its unique blend of Irish heritage and robust, contemporary design, appealing to watch enthusiasts worldwide.

McAuley said: “We have built up so much momentum over the past year and to receive this level of interest, support, and recognition is humbling. It’s undoubtedly recognition for all the hard work and perseverance that has gone into the creation of the Maraí 401 and the Nomadic brand – combining Belfast’s shipbuilding heritage with hardy, modern watch design at an accessible price point.

“The global watch industry is particularly competitive, but I’m a big believer that a watch doesn’t just tell the time, it tells your story. Delivering that connection, a story my clients feel proud to talk about, whilst exceeding expectations on quality, has been my key focus from day one. Seeing our early success and the direction we are now heading; I am very excited for the future. I believe the best is yet to come, the creation of our new in-house assembly facility puts Nomadic amongst the best in the world, and I’m eagerly anticipating the launch of our next watch later this year – two huge steps forward for the brand”.