What to consider when launching a private label watch business?

Starting a business is hard, extremely hard. Even though I have mentally prepared for this before I decided to launch my own watch brand, Lacqna I am still overwhelmed by the sheer amount of works that involved. It was more so challenging when I am doing it all alone without a team, it is just too expensive to have any human capital at this juncture.

As I am planning to launch my watch on Kickstarter in July 2017. I think it would be best for me to blog and share about my experience in launching a micro-brand watch business.

1. Design

Design can be anything. From Nordic inspired minimalistic and yet functionable design to something that is quirky and fun. You would need to identify the market you are targeting and which designs is well received in your target audience. If you are targeting a specific niche of an audience that seeking for something that is very uniquely designed, stood out in a sea of watches, minimalism may not be something that you would like to consider.

If simplicity is something that speaks to you, something that you can connect with then this might be the best design route to go for. Ultimately, as a designer of you would need to have a clear vision of what you aspire your brand to be down the road. The design and the vision of the brand have to be aligned so that once people think of your watch, it means something to them.

 
 

When I designed Lumos series by Lacqna I have a specific vision in my mind. I wanted to design something that is minimalistic yet without the ‘coldness’ one often associated with minimalism. It also have to be functionable, with easy to read dials and indexes.

2. Material

Choosing the type of material to use is a crucial part that one needs to consider when designing and creating a watch. The most common material that is being used is alloy and stainless steel. It is more cost efficient in term of pricing strategy and also less risky in term of the manufacturing process as both materials are very common and easy to manipulate during the manufacturing process. A majority, if not all manufacturers would have the capability to manufacture watches with these materials.

For Lacqna watch, I have chosen to go with Stainless Steel 316L which is a medical grade stainless steel. It is immune from sensitisation and has one of the highest corrosion resistance value. The austenitic structure also gives these grades excellent toughness, even down to cryogenic temperatures. It also have highest corrosion resistance

If you would opt for more exotic materials like carbon fiber, ceramic, gold etc. Few things you would need to consider. Firstly, would definitely be the cost, whether it fit into your target segment. Secondly, how is the manufacturing process and whether the manufacturer you engaged truly have the capability to produce using these materials. Thirdly, production lead time. Some materials required it to be specially processed before it is ready for manufacturing. This would mean longer lead time. You would have to take this into consideration to plan your timeline and stock management wisely. Different materials would also mean different Minimum Quantity Order (MOQ) that is required by the manufacturer in order for you to launch your own private label.

3. Movement

Most of the time watch can be categorized into quartz or mechanical movement. Since I am using quartz movement, I would elaborate more on quartz movement. Quartz movement basically is a watch that uses an electronic oscillator that is regulated by a quartz crystal to keep time. It is a highly reliable and precise movement that runs on battery. A high-quality quartz movement will lose only about 1–2 seconds, what mechanical watches per month by far do not create. It is also the most cost-efficient in comparison to mechanical watch. Plus they are more durable mechanical watches, suitable for those with active lifestyle as there are fewer moving parts inside that may need repairing.

There are Chinese, Swiss and Japanese made quartz in the market. In term of quality between Swiss and Japanese quartz there is only a minuscule difference. Seiko, in fact are the one who manage to bring the world first quartz wristwatch to commercialize in 1969.

There are few major brand that you can source from like Miyota which owned by Citizen or Seiko under the Epson branding.

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Creating good quality watch at a friendly price have always been my aim when I launched Lacqna. Thus, to align with this philosophy, I have chosen to use Seiko VX50E which is a very reliable quartz movement that has a long lasting battery life up to 5 years. It is a slim and mini model created by Epson, Seiko in 2015. This enable me to design a dress watch that is slim at only 7mm thin and approximately 41 grams.

4. Glass

The most debatable part of watch making would be the glass type. In general, sapphire glass would be the most ideal but the cost price different between sapphire and mineral glass can be a deal breaker if your pricing is not towards the high-end market. Sapphire glass can be very expensive which ultimately will drive up your cost.

Although Sapphire glass has a higher resistance towards scratches, that does not equate that mineral glass is prone to scratches. Both crystal are actually scratch resistance, only sapphire is more so. That being said, in term of brittleness, sapphire glass is more fragile in compare to mineral glass. I have been wearing the prototype that I have for 7 months now and drop it twice on tar road, yet I have not noticed any scratches on the mineral glass that used on Laqna watch.

 
 

 

To create a more polish and elegance furnishing, dome mineral glass is used rather than the normal flat glass. This resulted a much more refined watch face.

Above 4 pointers are the most basics thing to consider when one decide to launch and design a watch brand.

Be sure to check back as I will continue to update this space on my journey of launching my watch brand, Lacqna on Kickstarter. If you like my watch design do help to spread the words. :-)