An Ugly SNGLRTY Watch – Is That Possible?
It is not a question either Daniel or I had ever been asked before, “What happens if a customer designs an ugly SNGLRTY watch?” It was Luc from Crystal Clear Watchmaking who came up with this gem! The answer may be surprising to many.
We also explore why we decide to assemble each watch to order. Plus Daniel and I share our most significant challenges during the development of SNGLRTY.
Luc continues the questioning from the last installment, and Daniel and I do our best to explain the journey.
There is something that you guys just have brushed on very lightly, and I was hoping to go into a little bit deeper. You had such an interesting idea, and I can see how you have managed to realize it in a modular way. Your idea allows each watch to be assembled uniquely for each customer, but it does not have to be that way. You could have made a range of standard color variations. Instead, you ask your customers to select the combination they like and then you assemble their watch. Why did you decide to do it this way rather than the more traditional way?
It is interesting how that unfolded. Daniel and I were a long way into developing the prototype. Unusually, Daniel phoned me up on a Friday afternoon and was telling me that we had to redesign the watch face for SNGLRTY. At the time, I was walking up some steps in Hong Kong and was not too focused on the conversation. On the other hand, Daniel was getting quite excited on the other end of the phone, explaining the redesign of the watch face.
There is No Standard SNGLRTY
We had overcome a number of hurdles throughout the process of creating the prototype for SNGLRTY. As with anything mechanical, you get a few failures along the way when developing something new. At the time, I was under the impression that we had overcome all the issues. Now Daniel was talking about redesigning the watch face. I immediately assumed that this was another hurdle to overcome, another challenge to be dealt with.
My response to Daniel was just to leave it until Monday and we can address it then. There was no need to ruin the weekend with this. But Daniel would not let me off the phone. “No. No. You do not understand. This is great, we get to split the watch face into four completely independent pieces.”
He just would not let me get off the phone until he had explained it to me. After Daniel took me through the details, I realized that a watch face with four completely independent pieces is remarkable. This change that the one hand indication forced on us was fantastic because there would be thousands of possible permutations and combinations, yet no additional effort on our part.
We Never Set Out To Design A Customizable Watch
As Daniel and I created SNGLRTY it was very much a journey of discovery for us too. This conversation was another significant milestone in that journey as we realized that our watch had a unique way of presenting time, that singular point. Still, now we also could make an individual, or singular, watch for each of our customers.
Taking this route was further reinforced when Daniel and I sat down to try and choose a few color combinations that we would use on our crowdfunding efforts. With so many options there is no way we could pick and be right for each owner. It would be futile. At this point, we committed to assembling each watch for each customer. Initially, there were 64 different combinations for the OHI2 and 128 for the OHI4. Now (July 2021) we have over 20,000 possible combinations, we are very grateful we did not try and choose specific combinations now that we see what our customers order!
A Unique Watch For A Unique Vision Of Time
There seemed to be some duality in this too. SNGLRTY presents time at a singular point and now we were able to make a singular watch for each customer. That meant that each watch had to be assembled exclusively for each SNGLRTY owner. This unique level of customization means each customer has the opportunity to put their own identity on their watch. Hopefully, each customer will feel that they were part of the creative process when they are wearing their SNGLRTY watch on their wrist.
We arrived at a point in the journey where we said, we can not decide; it is not up to us to decide. These will not be our watches. The people who own the watches should decide how their watch should look on their wrist.
Is There An Ugly SNGLRTY Watch?
That does bring up an interesting question for me though. Daniel said that if you are in Switzerland and want to do something that your colleagues believe is a mistake, they will tell. Right? If that is the case, what if one of your customers wants to configure their SNGLRTY, and it has zero aesthetic sense whatsoever? If someone selects a very ugly combination, will you say that it will not look good? Will you say no?
Aesthetics is in the eye of the beholder, shall we say? So, if that is what our customer wants, then that is what they can have. Ultimately it is their watch, so we do not have any comment on the colors. The point here is that SNGLRTY is about how we display time, how we present time, how people think about their time, and how they use their time. We are trying to bring more focus to time than necessarily the exact aesthetics of the watch. Those aesthetics are under the control of the owner. If they choose wild and garish colors that they love, then God bless them.
Quality Of The Watch Is Our Key Concern
I think we would only say something if a color combination would make it more difficult to read the time. In that situation, we would say something and suggest an improvement For example we may suggest another luminous color; you could improve this or that. So we try to guide, but not to change. Where there is a functional reason the would explain the issue to help guide the customer.
Previously, Daniel mentioned that if I walked into Switzerland to make a watch like SNGLRTY and did not have any connections, it would be very difficult or costly to make a watch. I have a feeling that even with Daniel’s connections and decades of industry knowledge, this was still a difficult task. First to develop the complication plate, and second to bring it to market. What was the most difficult or most surprisingly difficult part of your journey so far?
There Are Always Challenges
For me, the most challenging piece was going out to sell our idea for the first time. That was a big challenge for me personally. Until then, I had never needed to or wanted to sell anything. Being a salesman has never been in my job description up until that point in time. We planned to use the various crowdfunding platforms and try to use them to get the message out.
Looking back on it now is rather humbling. It was a little bit of a clown show to be honest. That was our first attempt, and as with most first attempts with anything it was not particularly good. We approached it in the wrong way, did not understand the role of the platforms correctly and so did not achieve what we were hoping to achieve.
We did manage to get through the whole process a bit battered and bruised. But when we were actually in the thick of it. There were still many moments of doubt. Looking back, it was a very humbling learning experience for me.
Having been in the industry for thirty years, you look at things a little bit differently. What was interesting is to really start to work on a brand from scratch, and you have to do everything. There was nothing here, how shall we name it? How should we design the logo? So the whole marketing aspect, and then what are the unique selling points? We knew what they are, but how can we communicate it? How can we put it in the right words so everybody understands? That was challenging. It still is challenging, of course. And extremely interesting too.
Next Time With Crystal Clear
In the next installment, Luc lets rip and designs his ideal SNGLRTY watch, and to say he goes a little off-piste would be an understatement. But true to form, Daniel knows how to handle it and we reveal the Crystal Clear Watchmaking SNGLRTY watch.
Don’t forget, you can head over to our configurator and create the watch that is for you.