DESPITE the omnipresence of smart watches that keep track of the users’ activities, the number of steps they’ve taken, their heart rate, and much more, it’s still heartening to note that the fascination for conventional watches is still ticking along nicely.
The number of independent watch makers that have come up in recent years points to a growing demand for fresh brands with new ideas.
Watch designer Nicolas Lehotzky used to create designs for mass and niche brands, but figured he could take ownership of his own brand. He wanted to bridge the extremes with a range of classic watches that were priced for the Internet generation.
The Geneva-based Nicolas launched Manufaktur Waldhoff in 2015 and was about to invest heavily in the business. Then he saw the benefits of crowdfunding and decided to go down that path. The results were more than pleasing, allowing him to fund the business.
The reception to the eight models Waldhoff has produced since 2017 has been promising. The watch designs are inspired by industrialisation, automobiles and machines, and use movements from Japan, China and Switzerland.
They range from simple, three-handers to tourbillons. “We take a high-end approach to our watches,” Nicolas explains.
He finds the Chinese movements are more affordable and better finished than the others. “We can be more creative with them, and they look better. A Swiss tourbillon movement costs around US$5,000. We sell a finished tourbillon with a Chinese movement for $1,300.”
The Internet has also become a great place for Waldhoff watches to make their presence felt.
“We can sell a $600 watch online without the buyer seeing it. We haven’t had to return any watches, so our quality is not an issue.”
Besides helping sell the watches to a younger audience — around 30-35 years of age — it has also seen the largest number of downloads on the facer.io site, which lets users of smart watches download watch dials for their digital devices.
At retail points, the customers are older, from 40-65 years of age. Here, they are willing to purchase more expensive models. And encouraged by this response, Nicolas plans to raise the average price of his watches to between $800 and $2,000.
This new affordable luxury segment allows the watch industry to continue ticking as it finds new wrists to strap on to.
Manufaktur Waldhoff watches are available online and at Watch Wonderland.