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In the last 11 months, my partner Regina Santana and I have been working on a new project which we were fortunate to officially launch this week: Timeless Watches, the first brand of affordable luxury watches in Portugal.
After studying the watchmaking market in Portugal, we realized that there was a huge gap regarding national watch brands. There are 3 or 4 Portuguese brands of watches, none of them in the segment of affordable luxury, and only one of the companies really stands out in the national and international markets. The challenge was naturally monumental, considering that we had no expertise in the field of watchmaking, much less we knew the process of creation and manufacture of a watch.
We were fortunate enough to meet one of the few and pretty much extinct watchmakers in Portugal, who assisted us in the initial phase of the project, guiding us through the need to find the right mechanism for our watches, the most appropriate glass and especially, through the whole process of its creation, from the initial design to the manual assembly of all parts.
One of the things we quickly realized was that a suitable design really makes all the difference. Watches are considered fashion accessories, such as bracelets and rings. Therefore, the visual aspect of a watch makes all the difference in a person’s final look. Thinking about it, one of the first things we did was to hire a fashion designer who could help us design the watch collection we had in mind.
We chose to create a collection that translated the name of the brand. We wanted a design that blended classic with contemporary, with a simple, elegant display that could easily be adapted to all variety of daily situations: work, leisure, fashion, etc.
The most difficult — and possibly more laborious — was to find the balance between a classic and elegant design, without neglecting the requirement of having a unique and up-to-date watch.
Choosing the watch components makes all the difference not only in its quality, but also in terms of manufacturing costs. We wanted to build a watch that was well balanced, affordable, yet contained the best components on the market as a way to ensure the reliability and durability that is required of a watch of this genre and within that market niche.
Throughout this process, we discovered many interesting things, particularly the fact that a watch that costs €4,500 can be technically inferior to one that costs a €150. The movement of a watch, the crown, the glass or the bracelet, each piece can make the whole lot of difference in the price and quality/longevity of the mentioned product.
Considering all that, we chose what we thought to be the best components for the price we wanted to put in the market. We wanted to build a luxury watch, elegant but affordable to everyone, at the same time. With all that in mind, we considered building all our watches with the following materials:
Naturally, we could have chosen more affordable materials, especially regarding the watch hands or the glass, but with time, it surely could cause us some problems in the future, especially when those components started to give problems.
The process of choosing the components, creating molds for stainless steel boxes, choosing leather for the straps, etc., is a very complex work and requires a lot of tests and a final certification, so that it complies with the guidelines of the European Community, for example.
Contrary to what one might think, finding a manufacturer to make a watch is not as easy or as simple as it sounds. After we have chosen the various components and materials to be used in the making of the watches, we needed to thoroughly investigate the market to find a factory that could assemble all these components and give life to our watches.
When we found the right manufacturer, we started producing various prototypes and manufacturing tests to ensure that the end result was at the level of the brand we wanted to market. It took several months of tuning, testing the resistance of the watch and its materials, creating and setting the molds that gave rise to the steel boxes, watch hands, logo and marks found on the various displays of the collection, etc. It’s an extremely meticulous and exhausting job!
Fortunately we found the right partner for the production of our watches and when we finally came to what we considered to be their perfect versions, we started mass production, ensuring that we had enough stock to work during the first few months of the operation.
When selling a physical product, the online consumer experience must match the offline experience. In fact, there are two experiences that are interconnected. The experience begins the moment the user enters the site, until he receives and opens his order at home. It’s all part of one experience, so every detail makes the difference in that process.
Usability, interactivity, design, website performance, marketing, email marketing, upsell and downsell, analytics, metrics, user behavior, mobile and desktop design, etc., all have to work very well. Otherwise, we can lose sales and, as a result, give our clients an experience that is not at all the one we wanted for them.
Thinking about it, we developed an E-Commerce for TIMELESS Watches from scratch to ensure that the shopping experience matches the brand’s requirement. We’ve designed every page and programmed every aspect of the e-commerce line by line. Of course, the challenge of launching an e-commerce from scratch is totally different than using an ordinary e-commerce CMS such as WooCommerce or Magento, which in addition to taking longer, has a much higher requirement from the points of view of execution and proper functioning.
The buying behavior in the desktop environment is totally different from the buying environment in mobile. Thinking about it, we developed equally different behaviors in our online store for a desktop environment and a mobile environment, in order to give our users a different experience, but equally functional and enriching.
Nothing was left to chance. We truly believe that the details make a difference, so we have developed some interesting interactions with our consumers and especially with our community that will grow over the next few months.
We have developed a way to give back to our customers the visibility they give us through their photos on Instagram and Facebook. In addition to helping us strengthen the community, it gives our customers visibility on social networks and a fantastic framing of our products, creating a positive appeal around the brand.
Even more difficult than building a luxury watch brand from Portugal to the world, is to make this brand commercially strong and appealing to the masses. This will be part of the second phase of our project, a clear challenge to our digital marketing and social media marketing skills. Months of challenges are ahead to make TIMELESS Watches a true watch brand, nationally and internationally recognized. But we are ready to embrace the challenge! :)