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How to Build a Watch Line from Scratch

Published by Salvador Briggman. Find him on Twitter.

I’m weirdo and I like to think about the different types of brains that are out there.

Some people are geniuses at engineering. Others are great a design. Then, there are those who like to educate, teach, and communicate.

I fall into that last camp of people. I also absolutely LOVE marketing.

That’s why I enjoy speaking with guests on the podcast, like Chadi of EP #130. He raised over $80,000 on Kickstarter for the X-Frame mechanical watch.

Kickstarter campaigns like this one show every engineer and designer out there that it’s possible to build your own watch from scratch, and if you’d like, raise money online to help finance the mass production costs.

In this article, I’m going to be highlighting a few key resources that you can use to make a watch, and also build a new watch brand. I hope you enjoy it.

To get started, let’s take a look at the infographic below which shows you some basic statistics about watch campaigns on Kickstarter, including the brands that made the technical functionality behind the watch movement. This infographic was put together by Stuart King of Lufbery Watches.

Here are some of the highlights:

  • Successful Watch Brands: 429
  • Successful Backers: 236,349
  • Avg. Spent on a Watch: $275
  • Year with highest success rate: 2013.
  • Year with highest # of successes: 2016
  • Months with highest success rate: September and October

One statistic that I found interesting was that 12% of the total watch brands launched on Kickstarter came from California, which is more than the UK or Australia. In addition, the vast majority of watch brands were quartz or automatic.

Since you’re looking to make a brand new watch from scratch, I’d pay special attention to the top companies that were responsible for the movement functionality of the watches. These include:

  1. Miyota
  2. Ronda
  3. ETA
  4. Seiko
  5. Seagull

Only two were handmade, indicating that this is clearly a part of the watch that’s difficult to replicate and therefore it might be best to outsource it to one of these companies. 63% of the movement was Japanese made and 35% was Swiss made.

Of all of the 400+ campaigns that have been launched, here are the top 5.

1. Pebble Time

Amount Raised: $20,338,986

Number of Backers: 78,471

Funding Goal: $500,000

This watch represents one of the historic crowdfunding campaigns that really put Kickstarter on the map!

It completely blew up at the time of it’s launched and was covered by all of the major media outlets. Unfortunately, Pebble was acquired by Fitbit with mixed reactions.

If you’re interested, you can check out this watch on Amazon also!

2. Pebble 2

Amount Raised: $12,779,843

Number of Backers: 66,673

Funding Goal: $1,000,0003

While Pebble’s second campaign was not as large as its first, it’s still very impressive. It also highlighted the consumer appetite for a particular type of watch.

This watch is also available on Amazon, which you can check out here.

3. Filippo Loreti

Amount Raised: €4,809,548

Number of Backers: 18,550

Funding Goal: €20,000

This campaign was created in Italy, showing that inventors and creative types around the world can now bring a new watch product online.

Many of their backers came from Singapore and Malaysia, further demonstrating the worldwide demand for new watch models.

4. Ticwatch

Amount Raised: $2,085,491

Number of Backers: 9,955

Funding Goal: $50,000

This campaign was started in China and features a cool new interactive smartwatch.

The project blew past its fundraising goal and has gone to show that there is a regular base of consumers online that are interested in watch technology.

You can check out this watch on Amazon here.

5. Blocks

Amount Raised: $1,613,874

Funding Goal: $250,000

Number of Backers: 5,063

Launched in the UK from London, Blocks soared past their Kickstarter goal and raised nearly $2 million.

This is the final crowdfunding project that I’ll be including in this, but as you can see, many makers, inventors, and companies are re-inventing the watch!

Step 1: Build the Watch

There are two crowds out there. Those that are hobbyists and those that want to create a watch brand and business.

The good news is that for hobbyists, there are A LOT of resources out there now a days to help you build a watch from scratch. It really comes down to how involved you want to be in the process.

For a mechanical watch, you’re going to need:

  • Case
  • Movement device
  • Strap
  • Dial and hands

This article from TickTickTickTick has a great tutorial as to how to assemble these various parts, including images.

I would also look into the book “Beginner Watchmaking: How to Build Your Very First Watch” which goes in-depth into how to assemble a watch.

This book is for the hobbyists out there that don’t want to get into the technical creation of plates of metal, but instead want to use off the shelf components.

Now, if you’re more on the business or branding side and want to create a watch design that you’re going to sell online, this approach might not be suitable. After all, you’re going to have to mass produce this item. However, having a familiarity with how watches works will certainly put you and your business head and shoulders above other brands that are out there.

Here is a great guide on importing wrist watches from China. You need to ask yourself to what degree you’d like to be involved in the creation process. Do you just want to sell the watches, or also assemble them? What types of materials do you plan to use? Can you use CAD? Do you know how to prototype a product?

Step 2: Brand Your Company

Branding is quite simply your reputation. Who is your ideal customer? Is it a business man or a fitness instructor?

While watch lovers might marvel over cool design and unique functionality, they fundamentally connect with the story behind the piece. What does wearing this watch say about THEM?

For example, they might not be able to bring their yacht or private plane to dinner, but you sure bet they can bring their Rolex, which conveys a similar message of status.

All of the interactions that a customer has with your company, including your images, video, color scheme, font, and even packaging should re-enforce your message.

I wrote more about this in my free Amazon Launchpad guide, using examples of products that are a part of the program. If you’re not familiar, Amazon Launchpad is a program that startups can use to get in front of Amazon customers.

Once you decide on:

  • Your ideal customer
  • Your brand values
  • The “story” you’re selling

Then, you can begin to go about creating a Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram page. You can begin to put out free content that resonates with watch lovers so that you can reel them into your brand.

Step 3: Sell Your Watch

Awwww yeah! I love this part of the process.

Sales is all about turning those passive website visitors into repeat customers and brand evangelists.

Personally, I hate dealing with the technical aspects of my various websites. That’s why I always, if possible, go the easy route and just let someone else do it.

There are a lot of ways to set up an ecommerce store. You can use WordPress, Magento, Squarespace, Bigcommerce, etc.

If you’re just starting out and don’t want to deal with the hassle of hosting your own website, I’d recommend looking into Shopify. A lot of the guests on my podcast recommend Shopify as the easiest way to set up an online store.

They have a lot of different plugins, themes, and extensions that you can use to make your site look pretty, yet powerful. There are even watch-related themes that you can chose from. Many other watch companies choose to use their site, like Fairtime Danmark and Watch Centre.

Fairtime Danmark

Watch Centre

Of course, you can also get pre-orders for your watch on Kickstarter or Indiegogo. On these websites, similar principles apply. You’re going to have to communicate your story, your vision, and the overall value proposition.

I hope that you found this article to be helpful that that it’s sparked some ideas! Feel free to hit me up and tell me more about your ambitions.

In future articles, I’m going to be diving deeper into how to sell your products online and create a halo effect around your brand, so that you’re one of the leaders in your space .

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