Road To Making My Own ‘Swiss Made’ Watch Part 1: The Impetus

Road To Making My Own ‘Swiss Made’ Watch Part 1: The Impetus

Road To Making My Own 'Swiss Made' Watch Part 1: The Impetus Feature Articles

Howdy y'all! If you’re asking yourself, "Who is this guy, what happened to James and Ariel, and what the heck does 'howdy' mean?" ...then I’m way ahead of you.

I’ll start with the basics. My name is David Vaucher, and I’m French by upbringing, but thanks to one of my dad’s work transfers decades ago, I now live in Houston, Texas, where howdy is a common greeting.

Now that that's cleared up for you, here is why a lone management consultant in oil & gas from a city with zero horological pedigree has something to offer the readers of aBlogtoWatch: I’m launching attainable watches, made completely by the best Swiss suppliers I can find for the money, and I’m sharing the adventure with you - as Ariel advised I should, given that the process isn't easy, but seems to be a common dream among like-minded watch guys.

In all my research, I've come across vague accounts of how to launch a timepiece ("I couldn't find the watch I wanted so I designed my own"), but in nitty-gritty, here-is-how-I-did-it detail, there is nothing.

Having had an article published here on aBlogtoWatch in June, I dropped Ariel a line recently. We both agreed this could be something that readers would find compelling since there's really nothing out there like what we're about to share with you.

Road To Making My Own 'Swiss Made' Watch Part 1: The Impetus Feature Articles
Seeing pictures like this one over my years as a reader of aBlogtoWatch provided the kindling for this project and my desire to pursue it.

I want to state clearly here that this watch project is more than a pie-in-the-sky idea: I have suppliers lined up for everything required, I have production lead-time estimates, and I'm taking pre-orders. It is from this state of progress and Ariel's knowledge of what the aBlogtoWatch readers would find interesting that these articles will take shape.

I believe strongly that if I can be good to people, help them or show them something interesting, they will respond with support, so it was obvious to me very early on that I would share very large parts of my work. There's always a chance that I may help a competitor coming up behind me, but more than likely I'm just contributing information to the watch community, which has the freedom to pore over and debate it as they see fit.

Now, before I go into specifics, I want to anchor your thoughts by presenting the "road map" for this first article in the series.

  1. First, I'll cover the motivation behind the project
  2. I'll describe my planning activities leading up to action
  3. I'll share some experiences in partnering with Swiss suppliers
  4. I'll finish by listing the watch specifications themselves and tee-up what you can expect from me on aBlogtoWatch in the future

When "Swiss Made" Doesn't Really Mean Swiss-Made, and Why You Should Care

The journey started early in 2016 while researching the Hamilton Khaki Field on various message boards. That's a great watch, no doubt, but I found that - despite the dial showing “Swiss Made” - not only was it nearly impossible to say exactly where its parts come from (it’s not Switzerland), but that people actually cared enough to discuss the matter!

Road To Making My Own 'Swiss Made' Watch Part 1: The Impetus Feature Articles
The spark came from research on the Hamilton Khaki Field line.

For some reason, I couldn't let it go, and for those of you who have not gone down this particular horological rabbit hole, here is an overview of what for years has constituted “Swiss Made”:

  • The watch must contain a “Swiss movement”
  • It must be cased and inspected in Switzerland

A “Swiss movement” is one that:

  • Contains at least 50% by value of Swiss parts
  • Must be assembled and inspected in Switzerland

This means that watch companies could conceivably (and they do…) make the case, dial, and hands abroad (in China or Malaysia, for instance), make most of the movement abroad as well, put it together in Switzerland, and call it “Swiss Made.”

Even new regulations that just took effect in 2017, while a step in the right direction, still only proscribe 60% Swiss content (though as I understand there are even ways around that).

Road To Making My Own 'Swiss Made' Watch Part 1: The Impetus Feature Articles
The dial may say "Swiss Made," but the watch isn't always!

To me, all of this reads like “Swiss Assembled,” and here’s why I think that matters.

France has codes and designations for everything from cheese (of course) to soap, so you’d be forgiven for thinking that this is another example of a Frenchman going nuts for bureaucracy. Actually, this is first and foremost for me a question of honesty and integrity. Swiss watch producers rely heavily on the “Swiss Made” label to reinforce a perception of quality and precision... and they price their products accordingly! Since they clearly believe the label carries weight and provides a competitive advantage, I feel they owe it to the consumers who hand over their hard-earned money to honor the literal meaning of that phrase as opposed to a legal, “technical” definition.

While I realize that not everyone can expect their timepiece to be made on a bench under the careful eye of a wise old watchmaker, the current situation of producers driving up prices while stretching the definition of “Swiss Made” to drive down costs is untenable.

Road To Making My Own 'Swiss Made' Watch Part 1: The Impetus Feature Articles
Philippe Dufour will not be building your watch, but rest assured that even if production of the Atelier Vaucher watch is industrial rather than artisanal, you will meet the person behind it.

The products resulting from that strategy lack the “soul” that a Swiss watch is supposed to possess, which brings up the second issue of provenance: we buy watches not only because of the objects themselves but also the stories and people they represent.

Of course, at the price-point I look to work with, I am delivering industrial rather than artisanal watch production. Nevertheless, I can tell you that the person running this project in Switzerland if it goes ahead is named Patrick. He is extremely friendly, knowledgeable, and patient, and he has even invited me to the factory to meet him and his team!

You can bet that if I reach my sales targets, I will be taking him up on his invitation and giving you a full report of how your watch is made.

Road To Making My Own 'Swiss Made' Watch Part 1: The Impetus Feature Articles
The first of three Made In Switzerland watches

That’s awesome, and to me, that is what “Swiss Made” should represent, and can represent at an accessible price-point when it is undertaken by something other than a large conglomerate.

In a nutshell, this is my pitch: deliver directly to you a classic looking watch with performance to back up its looks, which is truly made in Switzerland at a price that is relatively attainable.

So far, I'm sure that what I'm doing sounds like fun, doesn't it? I have no doubt that at some point, every reader of aBlogtoWatch has thought about attempting exactly what I am working on. Before you drain your life savings, read on to see if you are really ready for it.

Taking the Idea From the Drawing Board to Your Wrist

There are so many details in starting any business that I could go on for pages (I can feel Ariel's pulse quickening as I type that), but there's actually no need to do such a thing. Even with all the progress I've made, all the preparation I've had to undertake can be categorized neatly under a few key activities.

First, you must establish high-level "guideposts" that you turn to when trying to make a decision. These are crucial because all you have to do if you're ever unsure about something is ask yourself whether or not your choices are oriented along them.

My guideposts are as follows:

  • Target as close to 100% Swiss as possible for the watch itself
  • Start with top of the line specifications and work towards a price for the consumer, NOT a margin in my pocket
  • Follow the "Lean Startup" methodology, which means taking fast action and learning quickly from mistakes: even when you don't have all the information, doing something incremental is preferable to standing still!

Once you have your "True North" set, it is imperative that before you contact a single supplier, you do painstaking, exhaustive research and self-study, both to validate your idea and know everything about the segment of the industry you're targeting. Keep in mind that this all started with me cross-shopping for a watch. I've got the luxury of disposable income, so I was looking up and down the price ladder for months - on both established and crowdfunding sites - and at the same time I was forming my idea, I was also pinning down exactly who my competitors would be as well as what they did and did not offer. This research was nearly all-consuming, and it should be for you as well.

Road To Making My Own 'Swiss Made' Watch Part 1: The Impetus Feature Articles
It would have been nice to have started the project in such a nice workshop, but in fact the beginnings were much more humble.

I should also mention to you that right around this time was when I enrolled in the Timezone series of courses, which I completed while also working my day job. Why did I do that? Because, again, the only way you can identify and pursue an opportunity is to know anything and everything there is to know about it. Going through this self-education made me appreciate further not just the aesthetic side of watches, but also exactly how they functioned and are put-together, which I knew was going to serve me well as the project progressed.

  • Michael

    Very cool. Very interested in the final price!

  • IanE

    So many other kickstarters to compete with: you will need luck as well as determination and a unique proposition! I hope you will explain how and why your designs beat the competition.

    • Ian,

      Thanks very much for the comment. You’re right, it’s an incredibly competitive market, and many watches are priced well below mine.

      I’ve found that many of those crowdfunded watches are treated as design exercises, which is great, and that has its audience. I wasn’t going for eye-catching or revolutionary, just a rock-solid, understated look, that is what it says it is: an actual “Swiss Made” watch that is built to last.

  • David, I enjoyed reading the piece and looking forward to seeing your watches in person. It sounds like no expense was spared. The “Swiss Made” topic has been a big debate recently. It’s also been a debate over the rigid American “virtually 100%” standard. The question has been floated by many prominent people as to whether the modern global consumer cares that their watch is “Made in” Switzerland (or America) as much as past generations? Or do modern consumers care more about the company being Swiss (or American) with assembly in the country, as opposed to 100% manufactured in the country? I wrote a piece recently on the Weiss Watch Co, the Federal Trade Commission, and the costs associated with bedrock manufacturing: https://watchponder.com/2017/01/30/watch-industry-federal-trade-commission-claiming-made-america/

    I would like to hear what readers think about the “made in” debate.

    • Hi Aaron,

      Thanks for the comment! A large part of my project is based on the importance of provenance, and really the only way to find out if this is important to consumers is to go through the product launch and collect feedback.

      My working hypothesis continues to be though that provenance – and the larger topic of honesty – matters, even if only for a subset of consumers. It matters enough to support certain niche clothing brands, and if the years of comments about rising prices, bloated marketing budgets and “in house” production are an indication, it should matter for watch consumers also.

  • DrFrancky

    Been there, done that.
    http://imgur.com/a/AtQ1P

    • IG

      With Swiss suppliers?

      • DrFrancky

        Yep. All swiss.

        • IG

          Nice and was it a success commercially?

          • DrFrancky

            It was never been comercial project. I do custom watches for me and my wife. Thats why i use only top materials and only ETA Top Grade movements. The price for the end product was never an issue.

  • BRIAN

    I wish you luck but unless under $200 you need brand recognition. People buy watches with pedigree and let’s be honest the brand name associated with it. Buyers like a back story something to talk about or grab ones attention. There was a watch with Smokey The Bear that I am sure all the watch snobs laughed at but it sold out instantly. It is that catchy thing to have on your wrist.

    What sets you apart? Why would a buyer care if it is assembled in a backyard or multi million dollar factory. You need something to make your watch stand out and not be on the bargain table in Macy’s

    Sorry and I truly wish you all the luck in the world but I don’t see that distinctive design, it looks like every other watch the market is flooded with. You aren’t going to sell a watch like that on movement or simple design it needs something to catch attention which doesn’t mean it has to be gaudy or whatever.

    I would look into 3d hand or a dial door or texture that catches the eye. Besides being in an article here why would I buy that watch???

    Good luck.

    • IG

      Unfortunately (for Mssr. Vaucher) I have to agree. It’s not a killer design to go against China-made kickstartings with Swiss price level.

    • Hi Brian,

      Thanks for the feedback! Regarding the design, it was never my intention to do anything radical, save perhaps for the color options. I was going for function over form, and something that would provide enjoyment for the wearer as a tool watch rather than an eye-catching piece.

      Pricing is listed at ateliervaucher.com. It’s far more than $200, and I’m totally comfortable with that for the specifications I’m offering.

      You’re not the first to say that my pricing is not adapted to a new brand, but then again in all my research, I couldn’t find anything truly apples to apples. This is all one big hypothesis test, but if the reaction to H. Moser’s recent campaign is any indication, people DO care about provenance.

      I respect that you feel it’s not for you, but I’ve gotten some very positive comments through other channels, so like all aspiring entrepreneurs, I’m going to keep pushing forward.

      Thanks again for your thoughts!

  • ProJ

    I like (overall) the dial design. Very symmetrical and gives an impression of a casual/tool watch. Wish the case were a little bigger than 38mm though.

    • Thank you for the comment! As I mentioned above, I was torn, but thought 38 mm would fit a wider range of wrists, and that the crown guards and wide dial opening would make it wear “larger”. I appreciate the feedback though!

  • Mr. Green

    Vaucher is a good name! I’d actually prefer to see your name on the dial instead of the 3 squares which, for some reason, make me think Tommy Hilfiger. And I love that you went with a 38mm. Best of luck!!!!

    • Thank you for the kind words! I was torn between 38 and 40mm. The trend seems to be going back towards smaller watches, and I wanted it to fit a range of wrists, so ultimately I settled on the smaller diameter.

      I’m a child of the 90s, and Tommy Hilfiger has a special place in my heart, but I was actually going for a deconstructed French flag!

      Thanks for the comment!

  • Simon_Hell

    Youve gotta be kidding me. Who cares if 4 out of 7 wheels in my watch were made in asia? That is beyond anal. Actually those rules are already brutally strict as they are, and if they are met then the watch is swiss, end of debate. Otherwise we may as well debate where the ore came from that the steel was cast from. This is stupid to have this as the driving criterion and the main reason for this foolishness.

    Regarding the design, i realize it is in the eye of beholder, but according to this beholder it is one of the ugliest watches i have ever seen. Its a zero dezign kida watch, one that when you ask a first grader or a gramma to draw a watch, thats what they’ll come up with. We employ designers so that watches DONT look like that.

    Other than that i admire the enthusiasm. That much sadder to see all that effort and energy go into something so foolishly stupid.

    • Simon,

      I won’t try to convince you of the design, which is supposed to skew towards functional. The dial is an adaptation of the Benrus Type 2, which I liked because, hey, if it was functional enough for the US Special Forces, then it’s good enough for me. I added a few twists to offer something different from the standard black, and to each their own.

      What I will push back on is the comment regarding Asian provenance vs Swiss. I have no doubt that there are some very good Asian factories and Asian craftspeople. Again though it goes back to honesty. Any Swiss watch CEO would read your comment and think: “fantastic, now I can start lobbying to have the rules changed where all I need is a PO box somewhere in Switzerland to allow me to call my products Swiss”. The rules are NOT “brutally strict”, and companies have in fact been bending them for years. That didn’t sit well with me, so I tried to do something different.

      I agree, it’s a slippery slope (where do my raw materials come from, etc, etc), but it goes the other way too: if you are looking to buy a Rolex, would it be acceptable for you if all of a sudden they announced they were going to move all their production to China?

      • Chaz

        Not a good argument, bringing up Rolex and moving their production to China.

        Certain brands KNOW they have a reputation to protect and they know they may as well fold up should they move to China to save a few bucks. A Chinese customer will specifically NOT buy a Rolex if he knows it’s made (or simply assembled) in China.

        The big brand players know a big chunk of their business is in the Asia-Pacific region and people in that region are very, VERY discerning when it comes to “prestige”.

        BMW sort of shot itself in the foot a few years ago by moving assemblage of a China specific 5 series to China. Do they still sell? Yes but the perception of BMW as being desirable and “luxury” took a major hit. Even Louis Vuitton is now considered passé with the nouveau riche because they know a lot of small, basic items have been outsourced. Technology items such as the iPhone is a different matter entirely because though it’s trendy, its not necessarily a prestigious luxury item.

        • Hi Chaz,

          Thanks for the comment. Could you please clarify how bringing up the “Rolex in China” hypothetical is not a good argument? It seems the rest of the comment would seem to validate that provenance does matter.

          Because of the cost of Swiss labor, my watches cost more than if this were a typical Kickstarter project with Asian sourced parts. It DOES set me apart, and it’s as much branding as me just wanting to sell an honest product to that subset of customers that cares for this type of detail.

          Not trying to be facetious just trying to understand you.

          • Chaz

            Honestly…its too much to even get into and I’m inconvenienced with only an ipad at this moment. Yes, provenance very much DOES matter for high end, European luxury products to Asians.

            Rolex: at this point of Rolex’s history, investment in suppliers and reputation, no way in hell they’d opt for moving to cheap manufacturing or assemblage outside of the place that defines them and sells their product. Would also apply to AP, PP, Lange (German Version of the same topic), Grand Seiko (Japanese version), Journe, etc.

            Your watches: no one cares where they’re made or where the parts are from as long as they’re cheap and somewhat reliable. Same goes for Hamilton, Tissot, Baume & Mercier, Seven Friday, Tag-Heuer, well…you get the idea.

            No offense.

          • None taken. But how do you know for sure that no one cares where the parts are made? What if it’s that they just don’t know how loose the “Swiss Made” rules are and they assume they’re buying something they’re not?

          • Chaz

            Do something along the lines of H. Moser and their new all Swissness campaign and I might be a bit more interested.

            Good luck with your endeavor.

    • Omegaboy

      I wouldn’t go quite as far as you did on the design merits (or demerits!), but it is a pretty vanilla design. The crown and crown guards are mismatched, too. The crown needs to fit more snugly between them, and they should protrude out only half the width of the crown.

  • Marius

    Whilst Hodinkee is presenting a limited edition chronograph in collaboration with Vacheron Constantin, ABTW is promoting brands such as Temtion, Gentlemen Warfare, and Vaucher.

    #RESPECT FOREVER.

    P.S. In my opinion, the design of this watch is extremely ugly and uninteresting. It would look best if placed in a black, thick sock.

    • arieladams

      That’s interesting that you see it as is promting things. We offer a platform to tell stories, showcase what people with passion are doing, and to celebrate the effort and intelligences required to make watches. We do it with big and small brands alike. The bigger brands create the appeal for watches, while the smaller companies keep things interesting.

      aBlogtoWatch is not a store. We are a source of news, opinion, and insight designed to allow consumers to make their own decisions on what is best for them by showing as full of a spectrum as possible that covers the larger watch industry.

      By discussing only mature brands with more refined products and established directions we would ignore the entrepreneurialism required to make such companies exist in the first place. I find Mr. Vauchers focus and effort interesting and thing his tale is illuminating. I’m not a target audience for his watch myself. What’s important is that he likes it and he explains exactly why. He isn’t trying to convert anyone to his taste. Rather, this is one of many stories related to people today who are making their own brands, and I find it both interesting and useful to share – especially coming from the mouth of man himself who is doing it.

      • Chaz

        So “watch business” is the new “sponsored post”?

        • arieladams

          Sponsored Posts are those which pay a fee. Unless that happens you won’t see the label.

      • TrevorXM

        I for one would love to see Hodinkee lend you a new Vacheron Constantin Hodinkee chronograph to review. Has there been any talk of this? You seem to be friendly “competitors”.

        • arieladams

          I wouldn’t have no qualms reviewing a timepiece they are selling provided I was actually interested in that timepiece. Which in this case I’m not.

          • funkright

            I concur, that watch is in no way appealing to me. At the price point it is being offered at there are a plethora of options and choices, most being much more compelling for me. The only appeal is the exclusivity, but, again, there are better options (in my book) and I don’t buy a watch because I have 1 of a limited series.

      • Yojimbo

        Dude when the ‘news’ is a literal copy paste in sections of his promotional material you are skating awfully close on the pond to this lady https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZtJs8A0cYlI&feature=youtu.be&t=513

  • TrevorXM

    Well, I don’t want to be as negative as the other posts, but I have to admit that I’m kind of at a loss to understand the “why” of this watch. A French guy who grew up in Texas decides that it’s really important to make a Swiss watch that’s as Swiss as possible? But with the flag colours of France prominent on the dial? It doesn’t do anything innovative or new that I can see. And it’s built down to a price rather than up to a standard. I can understand the excitement of wanting to “make something” in a field that a person is enthusiastic about. But why not make something new and daring and interesting? For example, I may not be interested in buying the watches of ABTW regular Mark Carlson, but that’s just down to my taste, because they are fresh in design and deserve a nod and have even won some design awards. There is a clear vision there. Here, I don’t know what the vision is? A Hamilton Field Khaki but with more Swiss parts and brighter colours and the colours of the flag of France prominent on the dial? Maybe more will “get it” than me and it will be a success?

    • Hi Trevor,

      Thanks for the comment. Radical designs seem to be the driving force behind a lot of new brands, which is fantastic, but that’s not me. I’m a trained engineer who wears a lot of Filson clothing: I’d rather buy rock solid capabilities than trendy design. I did not see ANY projects going that route which gave me the confidence to give this my best effort. You can disagree with me here, but to me that’s the “daring and interesting” aspect.

      If you just look at the black dial option you’re right, the Khaki Field influence is heavy. But that watch has only 100 m water resistance, no crown guards, less lume and a base level movement. And no, it’s not what I consider a “Swiss” watch. I wanted to offer a more capable alternative which still provided great value compared to established Swiss watch brands.

    • @TrevorXM:disqus here is the design award I think you are referring to for Mark Carson & Richard Paige: Micro Brand Watch Awards 2016. I hadn’t thought about the design aspect but those are fair points Trevor. You are right that you have to a “customer value proposition” and I am a huge fan of the theory that design is the only thing consumers actually change their buying habits for (not movements or materials) (https://watchponder.com/2016/12/27/most-inspiring-micro-brand-watches-2016/)

      https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/43f2dcbcda2f58824d1f4b6d7971f1e7d4a5e7c64d5f77538f139febcb899aa8.jpg

      • TrevorXM

        When it comes to a small brand, I think that’s true. Oris is a great example of an independent brand in the past few years scoring big time based on interesting and original designs and concepts (and some retro that are out of the ordinary) — and for the most part only using tried and true SW200 movements and regular steel.

        I have to admit that when it comes to micro brand watches that it is a head scratcher as to what will succeed. Sure, design sets you apart, but I look at all these endless generic Submariner knock-offs and Submariner “military” knock-offs that seem to have sold out whenever they go up for sale with their tiny production runs — and then I don’t know about how important actually designing a watch is. Because they sure aren’t designing anything. I think with microbrands not trying to grow to be anything more, then it’s all about niche markets selling them re-takes on the same old hamburgers they know and love but can’t afford in the original versions. If a micro-brand has aspirations beyond that, they need to concentrate on original, striking design.

      • Or could have been the “A Design” award for my Mark Carson Ka La Sport watch. https://competition.adesignaward.com/design.php?ID=43708

  • SuperStrapper

    interesting. I agree that the logo is a bit off-putting, but this is otherwise an interesting endeavor.

    Side note: love Minute Maid park. I’ve been t every field in the Bigs and Houston is probably in my top 3.

    • BILL*

      What did you think about Cincinnati’s stadium? I thought it was pretty nice when I visited there.

      • SuperStrapper

        Great American? Yes, nice park. Did not have great food or beer though. In comparison: I’ve never been to a chappy major league park, so getting high on the list means there’s something exceptional about it. But every park has its greats and not-so-greats. I actually give my hometown skydome fairly low ranking.

  • Yojimbo

    “Howdy y’all. Welcome to my serialized sponsored post!”

    • Yojimbo,

      Yes, you’re right, I wanted to offer something different from standard black, and the colors are inspired by the French flag. Design is always subjective, and if this isn’t for you, it’s not for you.

      I posted a reply further up top regarding the alleged sponsorship of this series. This is no such Sponsored Post. I had an article published here last year and kept in touch with Ariel. I told him about this project, and asked what his thoughts were on sharing this journey with readers, and showing you a different side of Swiss watchmaking.

      Because I was not paying for placement, he had direct control over the message in the article, which took months to craft. It took that long because we had numerous exchanges where his feedback was consistently along the lines of “do you think the readers will find this interesting? I want them to get to the end and feel like they’ve learned something”.

      As I said up top, there are different levels of obsession with watches, but surely you can appreciate the utility of the supplier list I’m making available? Surely you’d find it interesting to hear a report back from a small Swiss watch factory?

      Yes, all that is associated with an entrepreneurial endeavor. It has to be, there would be no reason for me to do all this work otherwise. If that outweighs the merits Ariel and I agreed on, that’s your opinion and I’m unlikely to change your mind, but you can be certain that nothing would ever be considered that would compromise our individual integrity or that of aBlogtoWatch.

      • Yojimbo

        Calisse, jai encore une fois traine dans connerie, *whoosh* another day in ABTW, dragged into an argument over someone being unable to read plain English and in fact this time it’s someone whom I largely just joked with.

        1) I was not among the people criticizing the design of the watches, I happen to like smaller watches so therefore your pablum about subjectivity was not needed;

        2) You have a blindingly obvious conflict of interest and therefore I pointed it the hell out and congratulated you for not concealing it. Despite that I felt this needed a clearer reader caution; because #standards.

        That AA had input and final say on the edit is actually immaterial when you repeated verbatim your product literature within it. That my friend is by goddamned definition a clear example of something being an advertorial.

        3) Please point to where I wrote that:

        i) your post was not informative;
        ii) I did not enjoy reading it; and
        iii) I would not enjoy learning about the process or suppliers

        I would suggest that in fact you cannot do that for any of the foregoing points. That would be because I fucking well enjoyed it and am looking forward to the updates.

        However, if you please do continue tilting after windmills Mr. Quixote

  • Yan Fin

    I wish you best of luck David, but I don’t think the price is realistic for Selita no matter how much Swiss the watch is. 38mm is not a mainstream size so far. I do not own and do not like Khaki, but given a choice would go with Hamilton.

  • Guadzilla

    Ho hum. So another microbrand, this time sourced with parts from THERE as opposed to HERE.

    While we are being transparent – how much did you pay A Blog to Watch to feature your post?

    • Yojimbo

      answer is below from AA

    • Marius

      It’s not a question of money. It’s my pashion. Jewlers On Time. Simply the best!

    • Not a penny. I pitched an article last year to Ariel (which he kindly accepted and published), and we kept in touch. I pitched him the idea for this series, and the “Swiss” aspect of this project interested him and he thought it would be of interest to readers.

      This article took literally months to put together, and his feedback to me was always “think of the readers, think of what they will find interesting”. He gave me a platform to serve you, and share with you something novel.

      I’ll be visiting the factory soon; how many tours do you get to see or hear about of the “nameless” entities that make up the backbone of Swiss watchmaking? I would find that interesting, and if that reminds you of a Sponsored Post, how does a watch tour of any manufacture NOT come across the same way?

      Do I benefit from exposure? No doubt, but you can read this comments thread to see it’s not all supportive, and I’m ok with that. I wanted to shed light on things that others that went down this path have not.

      If that doesn’t interest you, that’s no problem, but you can be certain that neither I nor Ariel (and especially him as the owner of this site) would do anything to compromise the integrity of aBlogtoWatch. This was done first and foremost with the readers in mind.

  • Lincolnshire Poacher

    I’m passionate about watches, so I can emphasize with the passion. I wish him all the best, he’s obviously got a very clear idea of what he wants to do.
    I shop in the affordables market, so Tudor prices are usually out for me I’m afraid. Having said that I’m actually I’m saving up for a GS. But I certainly think his designs have something.

  • Svetoslav Popov

    So ugly and uninspired, who cares where it is made. And how is Swiss made superior to Japan made or Asia made generally? I think aside from the design being totally unattractive, the whole idea of making a watch around the concept of 100% Swiss is dull and could attract only snobbish and uneducated buyers living in the distant past. A 100% Swiss watch, made according to phone calls of a Frenchman, living in Texas, by Swiss, who put “Swiss made” on anything that is with 60% value generated in Switzerland. Come on. I also want to create a watch brand of my own, but I am not ready yet, because I think it is imperative that when I design it and make production phone calls to Asia, it must be something that someone wants to buy 🙂

    • IG

      Well this design is not a kill for sure, but I won’t buy your Chinese turd either 😀

      • Svetoslav Popov

        You think a CNC machine works better with non Chinese current 🙂

    • Watching Time

      Can you please make sure to post a link to your website for your watch when it launches? I’d like to provide some honest feedback, in spirit with what you have provided here. Some might say “at least he’s doing”…

  • pab210

    I admire your enthusiasm and determination David and wish you every success.

    • Thank you, that means a lot!

  • Elijs Dima

    Some things that I don’t quite get:

    How is this more “swiss made” (‘truly swiss’ etc.) than that same hamilton? The movements are basically the same – sellita sw200 is a common swiss movement, and among the cheapest there is – any guarantee that these aren’t on the minimum legal border of the ‘swiss movement’ designation? The case looks very standard… is it really made in switzerland, then? Or is it from an asian parts stockist and assembled in a swiss factory? Handset, crown, again, all looks like selected from a catalog of parts – so how do we know that the factory isn’t simply upselling asian wares? In particular – has the factory given David V. a full tour of the premises, or did the factory merely tell “yep, we’re all swiss, honest guv”?

    Second: where does the comparison to the Tudor come in? This watch costs quite a hefty sum ($1550, as of this posting). What do we get for that price – a basic swiss movement, stock case, stock hands, stock crown, a flat dial with stock fonts/layout and customized logo & colour palette? Is the value in something more ephemeral (and if so… where is it?)

    Third: Ariel, you’ve spent more than one video-podcast bemoaning the dullness and generic nature of startup brands, including unrealistic promises, derivative designs, and exaggerated pricing. I’m quite surprised that this brand/startup (Vaucher) didn’t cause the same reaction in you… Could you please elaborate (as aBtW editor/curator) on how this watch/brand is different from the countless other generic-design watches? In particular – is this not just a palette-swapped, logo-stamped “field watch” in the same vein as so many palette-swapped, logo-stamped “minimalist watches”?

    It probably sounds like I’m being very negative about this watch. Well… Yeah, I am. I really don’t get it. Help?

    • Hi Elijs,

      Thanks for the comments, and they’re all valid points, so please allow me to address all of them.

      The Hamiltons as they’ve been made for years fell under the old “Swiss Made” rules. The full explanation is on my website, but essentially those only had to contain a “Swiss” movements (50% by value of Swiss parts) and be assembled and inspected in Switzerland. The case, hands, and dial could come from elsewhere. If only 50% of the movement is Swiss, and that itself is only a certain percentage of the whole watch…you get the idea.

      The movement is the only aspect of my watches that I have to footnote, as I can’t vouch for its 100% Swissness. However I have done my homework to vet it as much as I can. The options available to buy off the shelf are limited, and even more so now given the turmoil in the industry. I went with Sellita because the design is proven, the movement is as attractive as one can get at the price, and most importantly, they were (and still are) highly responsive to my questions.

      I did the due diligence with them regarding provenance. I found in my research that they were investing in hairspring manufacturing, so I reached out (they didn’t want to comment). I also read that on a top level movement, upwards of 75% of the parts were made on site. I couldn’t confirm that, so I am being open with the caveats. Still, this is a top level movement, and for many that is a selling point, and I’m offering that here.

      Regarding the rest, YES these watches WILL come from Swiss premises. In fact, I have accepted an invitation to go visit right before BaselWorld. I will take pictures, and there will be some kind of post produced (here or on my site). I asked the question before I selected the supplier “is this all from Switzerland” before selecting them. If I were to uncover something different, I would say so and change plans accordingly.

      The comparison to Tudor comes in with the performance specifications. I don’t have the history that watch does, but I do offer higher water resistance, more lume and a decorated top level movement…for less!

      I can’t speak for Ariel, but when we spoke we agreed that the “Swiss” aspect of this project was different. Not many people realize that there is a whole world of factories out there beyond the manufactures, and to my knowledge no small company has been open about using them. Have you downloaded the supplier list in the article? Granted, there are different levels of watch nerdery so this may not speak to you, but there is nothing out there like this, it took months of work to put together, and Ariel has kindly granted me a platform to just give that away.

      My intent was never to create a groundbreaking design. It was to create an honest product I would be happy to wear for years. That’s the intangible, it’s as much to get people rallied behind a cause as it is to realize my dream.

      My question to you, which I’ve asked to other posters here: if “Swiss” really doesn’t matter to you, and if some Swiss watch CEO happens to stumble on this thread, will you care as little when/if they announce they are moving all their production overseas?

      That’s the message this sends. You can not care for the design, but it’s alarming that people are so cavalier about not caring they’re being sold something that’s not currently as advertised.

      • Elijs Dima

        Thanks for responding, David.

        — “if “Swiss” really doesn’t matter to you, and if some Swiss watch CEO happens to stumble on this thread, will you care as little when/if they announce they are moving all their production overseas? “–

        The “swiss made” label matters not that much to me, because I’m aware of the 50%-‘value’ deal. If, say, Tissot or Oris move everything they do overseas… I would wait and see if that changes the product quality. If not, then all is well. Of course, I do realize that such an announcement would mean a higher risk of the brand failing in public perception and subsequent sales. But, no, I would not be bothered.

        — “That’s the message this sends. You can not care for the design, but it’s alarming that people are so cavalier about not caring they’re being sold something that’s not currently as advertised.” —

        False advertising is an unfortunate, but all-too-common status quo in the buyer-facing side of the watch sales industry. Heck, it starts with things as blatant as paid-for opinions and dolled-up advertorial-text “reviews” on watch blogs. (btw, I don’t even mean this article/series). Or how about MSRPs that watch companies announce – those are usually artificially inflated to give an appearance of exclusivity…
        The underlying question with ‘swiss made’ not being ‘100% swiss-worked on swiss-materials’ is – “okay, what does it matter?”… Does being x% more swiss mean a higher quality in something? Better specifications? Better design? Better fit and finishing? Sometimes it does, sometimes it doesn’t… but it’s specifically brand-specific, not region-specific, country-specific or badge-specific. To put it blunt, there are bad watches with a legitimate ‘swiss made’ label, and good watches made elsewhere with no false claims.

        Another fundamental question – between ‘swissness’ and design, which one matters more? (My answer is ‘design’. Sounds like your answer is ‘swissness’…)

        –“The comparison to Tudor comes in with the performance specifications. I don’t have the history that watch does, but I do offer higher water resistance, more lume and a decorated top level movement…for less!”–

        Yes, and brands like Steinhart and Squale offer pretty similar specifics for even less than your brand does. Personally, I don’t think Tudor’s pricing is based purely on performance specifications, and frankly, I don’t think specifications alone justify the price. What does your brand/watch have *besides* the WR/metals/superluminova/SW200-1 lines on the specification sheet? Because, thing is – there are a TON of watches with those specifications at competitive prices (chris ward? steinhart? squale? oris? longines? All these brands have offerings that match your watch’s specs, on paper…).

        • Hi Elijs,

          Thanks for taking the time to post a follow up!

          1. Regarding your indifference to where a “Swiss” watch comes from, I’m surprised. That’s not meant to be a criticism or a judgment. It’s just very surprising. If your opinion really is shared by a majority of consumers, then either the Swiss watch industry has much larger problems than me trying to reach my funding target, or they’ll be dancing for joy because there is a huge opportunity to boost profit margins!

          2. I take your points. But if you feel that false advertising is rampant, wouldn’t it great if more people stood up and said “we don’t want things to continue this way”? A big motivation for this project was having read such complaints on message boards for years, and thinking “ok, let’s give it a shot and see how people receive this”.

          And you’re absolutely right: “Swiss” by itself is meaningless. But the fact is, for a lot of people, saying something is built/runs like a “Swiss watch” is synonymous with saying it’s quality.

          The Swiss designation matters BECAUSE it’s associated with quality, and people buying something on the basis of it being Swiss deserve to get that in return. Can you get the same quality in China? Yes, but if I want to buy a Swiss watch, and the company selling it is leading me to believe that it is a Swiss watch, then it needs to be a Swiss watch, and not by the standards of some legal technicalities.

          Speaking specifically for my offering, if it is manufactured, my name is on it. You can disagree with the design, but mark my words you will not be able to fault the execution.

          Touching on “Swissness” vs “Design”, I’ll again ask a hypothetical question. Patek announces it is moving Nautilus production to China, and AP says it is making an entry level Baby RO in Indonesia to reach Millenials looking to get into luxury watches.

          What is your reaction?

          3. I think we’re going to have to agree to disagree here, but aren’t specs what we come to these sites to discuss? If you take out the specs, is a Submariner a Submariner? Is an Explorer an Explorer?

          If you take the specs out of a watch and you don’t care, doesn’t that take out a huge part of why we enjoy watches?

  • Good luck with your project David! Your passion shows in your writing. However, given your last name, you really should be sourcing your movements from Vaucher Manufacture Fleurier. 🙂

    • Hi Mark,
      Thank you for the comment! I did talk to them, but you’d be looking at a much (MUCH) more expensive watch!
      David

      • David;
        I understand. I guess it depends on your business plan and target customer. As a lifelong collector, I’m one of those guys who would like to see a new brand come along that really focuses on the use of very high quality components at a “reasonable” price point. And the five companies that Sandoz owns (Vaucher being one) make some very nice stuff.
        Best regards,
        Mark

        • Hi Mark,

          You nailed my pitch: “the use of very high quality components at a “reasonable” price point”.

          With regards to target customer, I have two groups in mind. First is the person who is ready to buy their first “nice” watch and for whom raw specs and value for money are key.

          The next group is people like myself who already own several nice watches, and want something with some “horological significance” they can wear day to day, and for whom my price, though still an non-negligeable sum, is a manageable outlay. So far that’s where the reservations have gone.

          Going back to Vaucher Manufacture, a watch from that group would have been AT LEAST $5,000, and you can see the resistance I’m getting at a much lower price point. The watch geek in me really wanted to go for the Vaucher Manufacture option, but the realist in me says that wasn’t going to happen (at least not as a first offering).

          Who knows for the future, though…watch this space!

          David

  • Andrew Hughes

    I found this interesting as the activity behind building a mass-produced Swiss watch is often hidden from view. I know this is your first article so we shall see in later articles what the price point is. I often judge a watch by its competitors or specifically what else I can get for the money (with ETA 2824-2 movements for example). One thing to consider is how your proposed watch stands out from others. The best kickstarter watches get attention because they have unique designs that offer something new to buyers. In the end, design might win over “Swiss Made”… just look at the number of watches that use Seiko movements. Just food for thought. Looking forward to the rest of your journey.

    • Hi Andrew,

      You make great points. Clearly design is important to people, because that has come up often in this thread. But let me ask the group: what about the Tudor Ranger? What about the Sinn 556? What about the Hamilton Khaki Field? None of these have ground breaking or eye catching designs, and that’s the point: people like them because they’re built for purpose and they do that purpose well.

      How attractive is a Land Rover Defender? Some say it’s ugly, others love it because it’s built to run around in the mud. No POV is “right” and Land Rover isn’t trying to appeal to both sides, just the one that it thinks will buy cars!

      I saw an opportunity to deliver an objectively better watch (again, lume, water resistance), AND give those who cared something neat to talk about: this is a truly made in Switzerland watch, and the guy who made it seems cool and he was able to show me the factory where it was made via some Instagram and blog posts.

      Doing some crazy design for the sake of it just isn’t appealing to me: it’s not what I seek out in life, and if everyone is trying to outdo each other just on avant-garde design, at what point does all of that just become noise?

      Again, thanks for the comment and I look forward to your thoughts in the future!

      David

      • Andrew Hughes

        Hi David,
        I can see the similarities to all those examples especially the Hamilton Officer Mechanical… But here is a counterpoint. Those other watches have a historical basis… let’s say those designs were created many years ago so there is some heritage there. Your brand is breaking new ground in an old segment. So, your watch has to do the field watch design as well as the others or better to be successful. This is a matter of taste, and there is no 1 right answer. It comes down to your vision as a watch designer.

        The other models may have a more subtle balance of parts. For instance, the Hamilton’s (ref H69419363) 24 hour scale is not in bold fonts or as large. That means the primary numbers of 1-12 show up better. Same for the smaller tick marks. Reducing the boldness of those items may simplify the dial design. I still think design outweighs origin, and on a watch the differences can be measured in fractions of a millimeter.

        I applaud you for attempting this. Any comments that I am making are not meant to be negative. I say go for it and find your audience… there are designs for almost anybody’s taste. It will be cool to see where you decide you want to go with this project.

        • Hi Andrew,
          Those are all excellent and constructive comments, and at no point did I take your first comment as negative.
          Thank you for taking the time to post your thoughts!
          David

          • Andrew Hughes

            Cool. I can see that your post has stirred up all kinds of opinions… and that is not a bad thing. It is like having a focus group test in public (for free!). I think an audience who is tuned into watches will give a lot of feedback… some good some ridiculous. Since they are the ones buying them, it is worth considering… as long as it goes with your vision that is….

          • Hi Andrew,
            You’re absolutely right. In fact, I wanted to collect my thoughts and put something together on how to handle feedback as an entrepreneur, so I went Live on Facebook earlier today.
            If you are interested and have ten minutes, it’s called “Resilience in being an entrepreneur” at https://www.facebook.com/ateliervaucher/
            Thanks for the comment!
            David

          • Andrew Hughes

            I enjoyed the video and left a LIKE

          • Thank you Andrew!

        • Yojimbo

          If FRENCHIE here had been thinking, rather than spewing the tricolore on everything (which I don’t actually mind on the blue faced one) they’d have riffed more on some of the Historic Lanvin watches on account of they being you know a FRENCH company using swiss parts at least back in the day they did.

          https://youtu.be/D0R6QO9LooI

      • Making a watch that appeals to you is of courese key. However… Making a replica watch is what you think are better specs is not going to be enough. And by replica I mean a watch fully in the mold of an existing genre. Withiut a distinctive deskgn you will be lost in the crowd od similar watches. But without a “name” or reputation or retail pipeline or rrtailer presence. Its a tough road. Design matters, matching specs for a bit lower price point rarely tips a potential customer into pulling the trigger.

        objectively better watch (again, lume, water resistance), AND give those who cared something neat to talk about: this is a truly made in Switzerland watch,

        Sounds good on paper but as Vallinin noted you have s confused tri- national message. “Truly Swiss Made” versus “Swiss Made” will be a hard sell as I doubt many actual buyers care to that level. Medsage boards andABTW commenters are fully representative of you customers.

        Having been and done that I feel your pain. You are a micro brand – sell yourself, not France unless you have tie in to it. And with bases and hopefully designed in Houston and msde in Switzerland, the France angle adds nothing to yhe equation.

        Best of luck.

        • Hi Mark,

          Thanks for the comment! It echoes the other constructive feedback I have gotten here, and the next step is thinking how to implement that going forward.

          David

          • I would incorporate you being French into your backstory rather than trying to make it a key feature of your brand or product. Consider the suggestion from another comment to create a brand logo (starting with a V shape seems like a good idea) and work the French tri-color into it. If your watches were assembled in France or your business was based there (like Bell & Ross being in Paris) then connecting to France could work for you. But as is, it only dilutes the Swiss-ness you are trying to emphasize.

        • Mark you nailed it. “Never underestimate a consumer’s reluctance to change.”

          • Not so much releuctance to change as relunctance to pick an unknown over a known quantity when things (like design) are essentially the same.
            If things seem truly different then the frame of reference no longer is the baseline for comparison.

          • “Behavioral Economist Daniel Khaneman won a Nobel Prize for discovering how potential customers assess choices (my paraphrase): they establish a benchmark based on a known product they already have, then determine if a new product has new benefits and new shortcomings. The customer penalizes the shortcomings much more than rewarding the new product’s benefits (2). In other words, your proposed watch must meet new needs without having shortcomings compared to existing watches out there. This is the challenge of breaking into an established industry.”

            From: https://watchponder.com/2016/09/12/tale-start-up-kickstarter-watches/

          • Totally agree. If your specs are difficient your product will be dismissed as inferior. But incrementally better specs will only sway a buyer who is aleady considerig your product. In other words at best they are a tie breaker. You will be lucky if some better specs make up for being the unknown horse in the race.

  • commentator bob

    I am very interested in this process. However, I am not sure I care whether this is more Swiss than a Hamilton (if it truly is given that it just uses a Sellita movement, and setting aside the issue that a Hamilton should not be Swiss).

    Plus, is a watch designed in Houston really Swiss?

    For this kind of basic watch there are already so many options, for all the effort involved in setting up an independent watch brand it would be good to see something not already on the market.

    The Swiss obsession was recently well parodied by another watch maker.

    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/032f5df4a72dae56e225fd857035a01aa2ee27c4dac35b397d27be487dd53451.jpg

    • Thanks for the comment! On one hand I can see how you’d take H. Moser’s project as a parody. On the other, if that were the intention, I would have thought they would choose to make a case out of something as Chinese as Swiss cheese is Swiss, in China, put “Swiss Made” on the dial, make a show of how they shipped their parts to Switzerland just in time for assembly at the SIHH, and then call out how absurd and loose the designations “Swiss Made” designations are.

      Instead, they chose to make a statement the other way, taking “Swiss Made” off the dial saying the designation had become meaningless, and yes then making the case out of Swiss cheese for emphasis. My opinion is that this really was a message to restore honesty to Swiss watchmaking. Now, people can take a stand as to whether that matters or not, but I think what H. Moser was saying was that at least they’re encouraging giving people full information on which to base their stance.

      This all happened right around the time I was finalizing my work, so I followed the reaction closely, and for all the negativity on these comment threads, their message DID resonate with people.

      And I’m with you on Hamilton having to be American in the first place. That gnawed at me as well. Is that going to bother many people? Evidently not, but that’s what microbrands are best positioned to do: address a niche in mechanical watchmaking, which is itself already a pretty small niche!

      I go back to the Filson vs. LL Bean example. Same styles, but sometimes I want the cheaper LL Bean option, sometimes I go with Filson. Some people stick to one or the other. And some people think both are for middle-aged moms and dads and would rather have the Yeezy Boosts!

      I saw an opportunity to do something novel, and I went for it. Fingers crossed now!

      David

  • commentator bob

    This is good general advice for all situations in life: “Indeed, if you find yourself attempting what I’m doing, trust your gut: if companies respond sporadically or rudely, take that as a sign of how they will handle your project and customers’ cash!”

  • Epictime

    Congratulations David! Sounds like you have done an incredible amount of research to get this far and it is quite generous of you to share it with the readers. I look forward to the future articles of the series. I would be interested in how much out of pocket money you will have spent to get the first few watches to market (not counting the incredible amount of time). I am suspecting you still have a day job and this project is done off-hours.

    I have a distant history as a lapidarist and jewelry maker that was put on hold for 14 yrs of schooling and decades of 60 hr workweeks. My wife says if I wasn’t in my current career I would be a jewelry or watch designer/maker. I think it is time to buy my watchmaker’s bench and take the Timezone classes. Thanks for getting my creative and entrepreneurial juices flowing again.

    • Thanks for the comment and the encouragement! I like the suggestion of a final tally of the investment. I’m keeping track of expenses for tax purposes and I’ll think about how to incorporate that in a post down the line.

      I can relate to your situation. Anyone is free to look me up on LinkedIn, and they’ll see that I’ve trained (very) hard for what I do during the day. But, I felt time passing by and didn’t want any “what-ifs” in ten years.

      I think that’s great you’re going to look into the TZ classes! If you (or anyone reading this) has any questions as it relates to equipment/time commitment or anything else, please feel free to drop me a line at contact@ateliervaucher.com

      David

  • Jack D.

    Thanks for the article, David. I’ve been curious for quite a while how micro brands start up. About about they go about finding suppliers and so forth. Hopefully the reward is worth the work and the risk. I look forward to seeing how your project progresses.

    • Hi Jack,
      Thanks very much, I look forward to sharing the journey with you!
      David

  • BNABOD

    some good points have been brought up already but to me it comes down to aesthetics. the pictures shown are not attractive but I admire the persistence in attempting to design something that appeals to you and being transparent around supplier and origin issues. bonne chance.

  • Tõnis Leissoo

    To the people who only see the pictures of the watch in this article: It’s not about the watch!
    It’s about a journey of a someone becoming a watch designer/brand owner. This story was not published here to promote the watch itself, it was to explain how the journey looks like and who should take this journey. If you don’t like the watch itself then fine, but the journey is what matters. David, please keep the posts coming. It’s very very interesting to read a very open description of your journey. I’m quite sure that you are having tons of fun 😉

    • Hi Tönis,
      I couldn’t have said it better myself! Thank you very much for the support, and I look forward to hearing your thoughts on future articles.
      David

  • Jerry Davis

    It sounds like an interesting journey and good luck to you however I would not
    be a customer based on two reasons, and they are completely personal.
    1. The watch design, to me, is just not interesting.
    2. 38mm case is much smaller than I am interested in. I don’t think I have purchased
    anything smaller than 42mm since the 1990s. Did you pick that size so as to appeal
    to women as well as men?
    As I said though, good luck

    • Hi Jerry,

      Thanks for the comment! Sizing is tough since you’re never going to please everyone, and certainly your preferences (going back that far!) would put you on the right side of the distribution!

      Ultimately, I made the decision based on the following:

      1. There seem to be certain “accepted” sizes by watch type, with the most common being 40 mm for a dive watch. In researching field watches and those similar, 38 mm and thereabouts came up a lot.

      2. Watches that have no bezel, in my opinion, wear “larger” than actual size. I have an Explorer II that on paper is quite massive but wears fine thanks to the bezel. Conversely, I was afraid that going above 38 mm with something that was all dial would result in a wrist-mounted pie pan.

      3. Yes, the possibility of making a unisex watch was a consideration. Now, anyone is free to wear anything they want, and certainly I have seen pictures of women wearing Subs and Daytonas, but 38 mm seemed a size that could be considered conventional for both men and women.

      4. I work off of data whenever I can, which unfortunately I didn’t have when I was working through this project. That said, I pored over message boards and reviews and saw enough comments supporting a 38 mm size that gave me confidence to choose that. As you say though it’s completely subjective and in fact if you go down to the bottom of the thread you’ll find one person saying they love the 38 mm size and another saying they wish it was 40mm, right next to each other

      I hope that answers your question to your satisfaction!

      David

  • IG

    It’s gonna be an epic battle against the £15 Infantry!

    https://watchspace.files.wordpress.com/2015/11/p1030052.jpg?w=545&h=582

  • “The products resulting from that strategy lack the “soul” that a Swiss watch is supposed to possess”

    I don’t mean to come across as negative, but I am indeed skeptical or any company selling an idea rather than a product. There are very few companies in existence that can package together a philosophy that attracts my interest more than their completed offerings do, especially if I compare their offerings’ value proposition to companies selling similar products.

    You mention Tudor Ranger, and I fail to see how your watch, using Swiss-sourced components assembled in Switzerland has any more “soul” than said Tudor, which uses Swiss-sourced components assembled in Switzerland. And I’m pretty sure that Tudor’s source for the Ranger’s dial, hands, bracelet, and everything except its movement is its parent company; I can’t see Rolex scrambling around looking for a case manufacturer when they own one of the the largest in the world. I can buy a brand new Ranger, on bracelet, for $2100. I’ve seen top-notch pre-owned examples going for $1500. At that price point, there’s no question which of the two watches I would choose.

    I’m not French, or have any allegiance to France, so if I was in the
    market for an aviator/explorer/field watch, a French-flag themed one
    wouldn’t be my first choice. I understand that it represents your
    heritage, but it’s not the watch’s heritage, and, as such, it’s a bit
    puzzling why you would choose that design approach when your company’s
    marketing philosophy is so obviously Swiss-centric. It would be like me
    desiring to start a 100% German manufactured car company, because I
    consider German manufacturing to be superior, and then painting the
    Italian flag on the hood, because I happen to be Italian. It’s confusing, and as such your watch seems to suffer from the same affliction that so many other small-market watches do: it reflects the desires of the designer, rather than those of the buying public. Recall the Protos watch featured on ABTW a few months ago. Not a bad overall design at all – and quite affordable. But it was created because the designer wanted for himself a low-cost alternative to the Sub/Black Bay, which already exist in abundance.

    I wish you luck in your endeavor and hope sincerely that you’ll seek out a design professional in the future to assist you in refining your own ideas; I also look forward to seeing the evolution of your brand as you incorporate external, objective suggestions.

    • I appreciate the time you took to write this and your encouragement, even if you don’t feel this is the right product for you.

      Your note gives me a few prompts off of which to address some of the hurdles a microbrand faces when it comes to design, so please excuse ahead of time the length of this reply!

      I’m not trying to be political here, but movements and ideas DO sell. Do you find “Make America Great Again” baseball caps attractive, from a purely design point of view? Setting aside the attractiveness, there’s nothing to them: it’s a phrase stitched in white on a red ball cap. Yet people buy and wear them.

      Have you seen the talk by Simon Sinek on selling the “Why”? I recommend it.

      Believe it or not I DID listen to the customer by way of months and months of accumulated research on message boards and reviews of other products.

      Your suggestion to start with direct customer feedback is sound, but as someone going down this road right now it is much easier said than done.

      Put yourself my position. You’re starting a microbrand, and you have ideas, enough to get you something presentable that you can show. Is your network large enough and knowledgeable enough to give you feedback?

      I think it’s safe to say that most of us are the lone “watch guys” in our circle of friends, so now you have to go build up a following.

      Setting aside the decreasing cost/benefit of sourcing ever more people their ideas on a design, you’ll then no doubt run into two issues.

      First is that if you sat down a group and said “tell me what your ideal watch looks like”, people don’t know what they want until you put it in front of them, so it IS up to the designer to create a jumping off point.

      Second is that even if you do that, can you guarantee that that sample represents each and EVERY watch buyer out there? Once I have asked 50, 100, 1000 people for input and tweaks, do I end up with something that everyone is guaranteed to love? Or do I end up with an incoherent “design by committee”?

      Also, if you haven’t yet, please read the rest of the comments. Could you (or anyone here) put so much time, effort and/or money into something, receive comments similar to some of what you see below, and then still keep going?

      I did not hire a designer because I was in fact going for simple and functional and every dollar of overhead cost I have to cover means another dollar I have to tack on to the final price of the watch.

      In fact, it’s probably more than a dollar, because a designer is not a sure thing and I have to mitigate that risk. If you can point me to a designer who guarantees 100% of people seeing their design will love it and make a purchase, I’ll look into it but I am thinking those designers are hard to find!

      Going back to my comment about building a network, for me this is that first chance to gather real feedback. And I AM listening. The beauty of crowdfunding is that it gives a chance to make tweaks. Some people have said they don’t like the logo and would rather have text, others want shorter crown guards. That’s totally fine, it doesn’t hurt my feelings and I do in fact agree that it would make for a nicer looking product.

      At the end of the day, you can’t please everyone, and my goal is a modest 100 watches. That’s it. The latest customer couldn’t have been more enthusiastic while placing a reservation, so I keep marching forward.

      Thanks for the comment and the time to read this!

      • vmarks

        Design work starts with setting constraints. Some people approach design with a mood board – a collection of images of some related and some unrelated objects that inspire them, and then you distill the qualities that the images have in common into design principles. Other people approach by setting rules – “the hands must reach their markers” or “the date function has to be in line with the markers, not in-board of it” or “must be readable off-axis from 2 feet (suitable for driving)”, whatever the rule. The point is, successful design work starts from guidance and constraint.

        People are terrible at telling you what they want. People have trouble putting it into words, and when you show them something, they’ll frequently say, “yes, I’d buy that” and then they don’t. The only thing to do is work to create good design that resonates with you, test that design without showing it at first by asking people what they value in a watch – readability, minimalism, big markers, night readability – and then without trusting that fully, design around it. Then show it, take feedback without necessarily following all of it, then take pre-orders – there’s no commitment like commitment. Nothing’s a success until people give you their money.

        • Thank you for the comment, and for very succinctly summarizing pretty much all of my journey so far!

          David

        • This is absolutely correct. The “conversion rate” from ‘I’d totally buy that’ to actually buying a new product is actually about 5%. Testing demand is very difficult and getting on here is one way to test extreme customers, but not necessarily the only segment to test. Kickstarter is good because it forces people to surrender their money. It is “voting with your wallet”

    • Excellent comment

      • Hi Mark,
        I can’t find your comment re French branding in the thread (now large!) so am replying here. The challenge for me is to compile all the feedback and then find the middle ground in such a way that I am comfortable with the result but that will also satisfy the suggestions that come up repeatedly.
        This particular suggestion that you have made is indeed one that has come up previously, and I am doing just that while still keeping part of my story. But the logo is off the watch and the product shots will reflect that!
        David

        • But do use that space on the dial for branding.

  • Kael Racioppa

    David, first off you are living my dream and I applaud you. I am an artist/designer and once I have the the extra capital to fully dive-in to the busines I will be there right with you (don’t worry I design divers so I will be in another “field.”)

    Since I will not be competing in any way with you I would like to extend some designer notes that jump out at me. First, off I want to say that I don’t dislike your design and it serves as a great starting point and conversation starter. It just needs a few tweaks IMO… and on that note here are my notes:

    Logo – being a new company your logo can’t exist by itself because you haven’t established your brand yet. VAUCHER should be in small print above the logo in white CAPS. Its a great last name and a good name for a brand…be proud of it. Secondly, showing off the french heritage is kool but instead of 3 boxes straight across, I see the flag Making a V. Just take the outside boxes on 45° angles down towards the centre and continue the middle white box on the same angle until it comes to a point in the bottom in the centre. (The white box will now resemble a home-plate-like shape instead of a square). This way it represents France and your last name at the same time!

    Size – split the difference between 38mm and 40mm and go 39mm. The extra size should be used on the bezel. It feels a bit skinny and the dial is taking over too much. Add an extra 1/2mm all the way around.

    Finish – being a field watch you may want to do a sand blasted finish as it will stand out from the competitors and be more recognizable if you become a hit.

    Crown guard – have it only extend half way on crown or better yet, remove it altogether!

    Dial – the text representing the minutes should be smaller so that the focal point can be the hour text. Ditch the white dial IMO. Also, the dial lacks texture. This can be achieved best by using a sandwhich dial. The numbers and 5 minute triangle indicators and your NEW logo should all be cut out and come through from the lower dial of the sandwhich. Also the lower dial should be lumed. I have a few other ideas for your dial but I don’t want to change it too much. This should vastly improve the look and character and get more people on board.

    Hands – I like them, they already have V’s on them so that works well.

    Strap – try out those new rubber natos! I think its a good fit for the look you’re going for while being good quality and durable. Instead of offering too many dial options, give strap colour choices instead. Black, navy, frech flag etc.

    Variants – since you’re doing 100 pieces, make 90 of them the same and have 10 be limited to the blue dial or mint green or OD green would also be a good choice. This creates future collectabilty and resale values can actually be higher than purchase price?? Also the sunburst effect should only be on simple dials that only use hour markers. Use a flat finish if your case is going to be polished, or use a gloss dial if the case is going to be in the sand blasted I suggested.

    Anyway, I hope you appreciate my free advice, take whatever design cues you want. I was compelled by your story and might have to live vicariously through you for a while! Feel free to pick my brain as well. I am on instagram @abstract_orange. A while back I did an Omega 300 mod you might find entertaining. I am not sharing my real designs though at this stage. All the best!

    Kael

    • @kael this is solid feedback. I agree with much of it.

      • Kael Racioppa

        Thanks brother!

      • Except the economics. Doing a 2nd dial for only 10 watches is a mistake. 10 will cost you what 100 will for production dials.

  • Eugene Najera

    IMHO you are competing against Kickstarter and not Tudor. Your design looks like a great watch for you but who are you making it for and what do they want. I want a 40 mm automatic watch on a well made metal band with a clean white face and no date. I just bought an Eterna that was discounted almost 90% and it was almost what I wanted but it was only $400 with your movement. Look around and you will find lots of nice named brand Swiss made watches discounted 60-90%. Good luck with your endeavor.

  • Gavin Whitaker

    Hi David – In terms of the value proposition and your offering, watch nerds ( I am one) are a tough audience to please, but they are your target market. I recently bought a new micro brand watch, similar business model to what you are trying to do. However, the watch is made from forged carbon, ceramic and titanium for around 500 less than what you are charging. Now, it’s styling and size is not for everybody, but it was designed by watch industry designers with years of experience at top brands.They are doing their own thing, offering something unique at a price point and are not trying to give you a cheaper version of another brands watch. Like others below I am not convinced on the appeal of your watch being more Swiss in terms of where the parts are produced, I don’t think this necessarly results in better quality. Personally, if I was in the market for a field watch, I would pay the extra for the Tudor, Oris or less for a Seiko as I am buying into the brands offer of quality. Best of luck with your venture.

    • Great comment, thank you Gavin!

  • Boron

    Where’s the ‘What do you think?’ option to select ‘Rubbish’?

  • Pingback: Micro Brand Watch Update Winter 2017 (Part 1) | Watch Ponder()

  • Em.Eau.

    Congrats on making it this far, David! I think it’s wonderful that you’ve chosen to share this journey with ABTW and our community! It will be interesting, fun and suspenseful to hear about the experience through your eyes.

    I really like and appreciate the initial designs you’ve come up with so far for the initial runs. Keep up the great work, and I look forward to following your journey! Good luck!