Amid the ever-increasing demand for all things digital, two Ireland-based entrepreneurs are finding a market for their hand-wound luxury watch.
Toc Watch launched on Kickstarter on July 26 and achieved its €20,000 goal in 24 hours. It has since passed the €70,000 mark.
Co-founder Will Monaghan set up the business with his former work colleague Max Dehne after his dreams of opening a restaurant were dashed when a deal on a lease fell through. He had spent three years working on a business plan, getting funding and finding the premises on Dublin’s Clare Street.
However, the landlord decided to sell the building the week of signing. “I had to reinvent my entrepreneurial dreams,” he says.
So he and Mr Dehne, who was one of the investors in the restaurant, decided to go into business together.
They both loved watches, but Mr Monaghan says he could never justify spending €5,000 or €6,000 on a watch. They realised that there was There was a demand for luxury watches without having to pay a big price.However, first of all, they had to find out if it was possible to make a high-quality watch, sell it for a reasonable price, and still make a profit. Their research led them to believe that it could be done.
He says: “We spent a good while researching how expensive some of the top brands like Rolex are and when you really strip everything back, how much it costs to make the movement, the physical watch; it’s a few hundred, nowhere near the few thousand that they charge.”
The first model, the Toc19, has a hand-wound movement which Mr Monaghan says is in keeping with Toc’s ethos of “simplicity and function”.
“You’ll notice with our design there’s not a whole lot going on; it just tells the time, and that’s it. We love the whole idea of a hand-wound movement; it’s back to the start of watchmaking when everything was hand-wound.
From their initial target of 112 orders to cover minimum order costs of €20,000, there are currently more than 310 watches ordered through the Kickstarter campaign, a number that has surpassed expectations.
So what is it about the hand-wound Toc watch that stands out in an age of digital wearables and connected devices?
Mr Monaghan says that the appeal lies in the brand’s simplicity and connection with the past. He says that Mr Dehne has memories of his grandfather winding his watch, something which many people can relate to.
“It takes time to wind your watch every day, and I think there’s something nice about those 10 seconds. There’s a nice sentiment out there, and people have responded quite well to it,” he says.
The two co-founders invested their own capital to get prototypes made of their design. They source the movement from Sea-Gull, a Chinese company, which is the world’s largest manufacturer of mechanical movements. They decided to use crowdfunding to raise funds for their enterprise in order to minimise risk.
“With Kickstarter, all you’re doing is pre-ordering it. So after our crowdfunding period, the watches will retail at €379, so essentially we’re getting people to back us by buying the watch in advance. And when we have whatever amount of orders after 30 days we then order at quantity from the manufacturer.
The Toc Watch campaign is moving to the Indiegogo platform while the business focuses on the production stage and the planned delivery of the watches in November.
A second design, with two different sizes, is in the works and there are plans to set up a shop on the website in the near future.
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