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In just a few months, BA111OD emerged as one of the most prominent and talked-about newcomers in the industry, and the founder, Thomas Baillod, unwittingly became the leader of a team of a dozen collaborators, and the spokesperson for a different way of making watches that are high-quality and high-end, yet popular and truly accessible.

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The cornerstone of this new venture is a tourbillon watch, Chapter 4.1 T.V.D. Tourbillon, that is entirely original and 100% made in Switzerland — both the movement and the casing — developed internally and in direct collaboration with contractors from the Jura region. This tourbillon was developed in just a few weeks and initially sold for 3,920 Swiss francs for the first 30 buyers, with an additional 20 models reserved for residents of Neuchâtel, to encourage “local circular economy.” This priced the Chapter 4.1 well below the usual entry point for this type of complication. It was a turning point for some, a wake-up call for others, and heresy for dogmatic traditionalists who saw it only as a provocation. Customers have by now experienced the special design and beautiful execution of the Chapter 4.1, along with a pioneering integration of NFC technology into the crystal to offer a unique and tailor-made concierge service. A world first from BA111OD — in all transparency.

Thomas Baillod had anticipated the shock wave. It’s all in the title: he called his watch “The Veblen Dilemma,” a reference to Thorstein Veblen, a thinker on the economics of luxury whose theory can be summed up in one point: Only what is expensive is desirable. The Chapter 4.1 watch that directed attention at this ubiquitous occurrence is now a point of reference for it marked a milestone for BA111OD and made Thomas Baillod a focal point for the industry — respected, revered, or reviled, depending on who you ask.

BA111OD is a pure digital native label, designed from the outset as a gateway between the physical and digital worlds — the phygital — that has come to life and grown on social media. Hence the name: BA111OD, unpronounceable without a little goodwill, an amalgamation of a surname — Baillod, typically from Neuchâtel — and a bit of binary code. Although it was not originally intended to be a brand as the name was not even inscribed on the prototype of the first watch, BA111OD now occupies its place as a result of its unique itinerary, a journey of more than five years. The strategy behind this journey has been built up gradually, over the course of Thomas Baillod’s personal adventure as founder.

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A beautiful intuition whose outcome was neither predicted nor calculated: Five years of work, five years of reflection, questioning, doubts, and challenges. The creation of a complete watch brand culminated not as the result of a followed and concerted strategy, but rather a succession of targeted risk-takings and improvisations, of which Thomas Baillod is both the instigator, the engine, and the main actor. His scenario was being written live on social networks and on one network in particular: LinkedIn. All from a simple personal account.

Entrepreneurial spirit did the rest. Thomas Baillod started with distribution, which he practiced on markets archaic in the digital age. He developed an application that he sought to sell but no brand wanted. It was this that motivated him to launch a demonstration watch, Chapter 1, with a strong quality-price delta, Swiss design, and made-in-China production — all to prove that his system worked. The watch turned out to be a success, and a brand was born. It was only then that his competitors realized what they had missed — and so they claimed the exercise was impossible to replicate with a Swiss Made label. Baillod accepted the challenge accepted with a model at 500 francs, and this too became successful. Again, the competitors have taken note but judged the exercise by claiming it was impossible to replicate in the high-end segment. It was at this point that BA111OD set out to create the Chapter 4.1 Veblen Dilemma tourbillon watch, initially sold for less than 5,000 Swiss francs.

In the BA111OD model, the customer is central since everything is built through the customer. Thomas Baillod dismisses the notion of the final customer, as the customer does not occupy a passive position as the one who pays the bill at the end of the chain. Instead, the customer holds the entire chain: through the customer, sales are made, and buying a watch gives the right to sell others – accompanied by privileges, often with watches given away.

The effect is irrefutable, positive, and productive: customers talk about their watches, photograph them, document them, contextualize them, and Thomas Baillod relays them. According to the simple principle that social networks are “a place of unfiltered and interactive expression between him and the customer.” This will eventually constitute a real family album, celebrations, meetings, events, aperitifs, anecdotes. Even a small atlas, as watches accompany travels and are photographed everywhere, from Alpine summits to Pacific beaches.

Baillod’s intention was to create an organic growth model, and so, at the end of 2022, he decided to speed up and test a call for private investors on LinkedIn. He stated: “Instead of turning to banks or traditional investors, the goal was to voluntarily turn to consumers to help finance BA111OD’s growth. In addition to attractive returns, these people will sponsor the next chapters. They will experience a unique immersion experience with the team, from model design with the Senior Designer to the model launch.” Far exceeding expectations, results reached over CHF 900,000 in just a few days. Beyond innovating with this double-financing model, this success allows the brand to launch production of the new Chapters ahead of time and shorten the period between the official launch in financing new products and deliveries. But most of all, it confirms the arrival of spectacular models this year, some of which are developed exclusively with the highly talented Olivier Mory.

As a result of this successful round of new investments, the BA111OD company grew to a team of 12, located at two sites in Neuchâtel, Switzerland. The headquarters is in the prestigious Villa Castellane, giving a fitting home to the design, communication, sales, human resources, and finance departments. The facilities on Rue des Moulins house a watchmaking workshop for what the watch industry refers to as T2 and T3 in the process of manufacturing a timepiece. The former stands for the installation of the dial and hands, and the casing up of the movement, while the latter refers to bracelet assembly, where after-sales service and logistics tasks are also handled. This integration showcases the dynamism of the young company and its Neuchâtel roots and allows for fuller control of the creation process, thereby enhancing its autonomy.

2022 brought unimaginable success to the brand. Despite the lockdown and its subsequent economic difficulties and skepticism, the launch of 6 new BA111OD watches doubled turnover to CHF 3 million and solidified the brand’s role as an active outsider with a successful business model. Since the launch of the first subscription model tourbillon in October 2021, the brand has sold over 600 tourbillon watches, while the Swiss watchmaking industry as a whole produced less than a thousand in total until the early 1990s. Thomas Baillod further strengthens the foundations of his approach by democratizing access to high watchmaking with a customer-focused approach. He explains, “By rethinking the distribution model, I have set up an innovative business model, based on we-commerce, a bridge linking commerce and e-commerce, the community evolution of e-commerce. Thanks to this unique economic model, implemented with BA111OD, it was possible to experiment with the approach and offer the best of Swiss watchmaking at an unbeatable price in the industry, without compromising on quality or service.

On February 5th, 2023, BA111OD announced the retirement of its first Chapters 1 and 2 with an Asian movement. The brand now exclusively focuses on Swiss-made mechanical models, and the year ahead looks highly promising. With exponential growth in the community of passionate and motivated customers, subscription sales continue to grow with each new launch. The call for investors to support the brand’s ambitions this year has greatly exceeded expectations. There’s no doubt that BA111OD is preparing for major watch introductions in 2023. To learn more and to stay up-to-date with the latest BA111OD watch purchase opportunities, visit the brand’s website.

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