In a new article, we presented you to Atelier Wen , a youthful “microbrand” dispatched on Kickstarter. Curiously, the brand professed to have genuine Chinese roots – in plan (that was self-evident) yet additionally in production… It’s not all the time that a brand straightforwardly uncovers that its watches come from the Middle Kingdom! Does that convert into lower quality? What are the difficulties for two youthful Frenchmen beginning their own watch business in China? We imagined that it is fascinating to discover a touch more about Atelier Wen, the watches, the assembling cycle just as the following stages for this microbrand with watches “Proudly Made in China”.
Can you clarify your experience and what’s your connection to time and watches?
Actually, I might be excessively youthful to appropriately have a “foundation”. Joking aside, I have recently moved on from my Masters at London Business School and already I was learning at Warwick and Peking University. Other than that, I experienced childhood in France, in the South, in Marseille, to be more exact. It was really predictable, and, up to this point, I’ll let it be known, the connection with watches might be hard to uncover. My interest began when I was given a quartz Seiko chronograph for my 14th birthday. For whatever reasons, it evoked an emotional response inside me, and, very soon, I wound up perusing on the web gatherings, online journals, and suchlike consistently. As an aside, around then, my English was quite faltering (which is genuinely common in France… ), and perusing all the previously mentioned sources is the thing that really permitted me to improve it. The consistent consequence of this is that, very soon, I wound up needing a mechanical watch. Of course, I was still a lot of attached to my Seiko chronograph, however out of nowhere, to my eyes, it was lacking something. There was no development to respect, no smooth beat, no rotor clamor, no soul (please mother and father don’t be irate)…
I am not convinced at all that this was the impact my folks expected when they picked my birthday present… Back then, I had no cash, so practically all such watches were totally far-off. On the web, however, I discovered conversations about quality Chinese mechanical watches, and it was as yet the age where you could get a really nice Seagull for somewhat above €100. around then, relatively few individuals thought about Seagull, and, with the exception of a couple of illuminating presences like Ron Good, it was still a lot of unknown domains. I nevertheless fell completely devoted to them, and chose to set aside my pocket cash (€30/month) in an offer to secure one. The accompanying summer, I went to Shanghai with my family, and I could at long last lay my hands on my absolute first Seagull. Then a second one came, and a while later a third one, and, indeed, until this day, it never truly stopped.
As time went by (and as my collection developed), I likewise turned out to be more engaged with the business from a professional perspective: I did entry level positions at Christie’s in London and at the French Chamber of Watchmaking in Shanghai, and furthermore turned into an unfamiliar guide to the Chinese government for the global advancement of their watch industry. Up and down this excursion, I was sufficiently blessed to get an unrivaled openness to within workings of the Chinese watch industry, and I couldn’t help however see that there was a colossal inconsistency between how it really is and how it is seen in the West. This hole, this gorge, is the thing that really propelled me to begin Atelier Wen.
What is your first horological memory?
When I was in cinquième (second year of center school), I was an enthusiastic peruser of Gizmodo, Engadget and the suchlike. At some point, I unearthed an article examining TokyoFlash watches, and I quickly fell powerless to resist them. They were clearly too enormous for my wrist, and the gold plating was some way or another very cheap for my young age…
Nevertheless, there was a sure vibe radiating out of them, and, by one way or another, that felt very pertinent and compelling. Eventually, I got one the accompanying Christmas. It was unassumingly named “Pimp: Trip The Light”, and I had no clue about what this even implied. Likewise, I couldn’t peruse the time appropriately on it, in any case, still, I felt exceptionally cheerful when wearing it. All things considered, isn’t this why we wear watches? At some point, lamentably, the battery passed on (fueling each one of those LEDs should be energy-concentrated), and, too bad, that is the point at which the romantic tale ended.
What was the thought behind Atelier Wen? Furthermore, why have you situated the watches in the “affordable” category?
The thought behind Atelier Wen is to investigate Chinese plan, craftsmanship and culture through various mediums. We began with watches since that is the thing that I know best (and what I like most, as well), however the arrangement is to wander into various verticals, and have these as a springboard to investigate Chinese culture. Our point is to consistently ask ourselves the inquiry of what precisely is current Chinese plan about, what is its substance? The beneficial thing with such an inquiry is that there is no pre-conceived answer and, accordingly, a wide imaginative freedom.
If you take a gander at Japan, France or Germany for example, you will see that, plan astute, there are some generally settled standards and values, and that, to some way or another “meet all requirements” (for the absence of a superior word) as a plan starting from these countries, you, as it were, need to remain inside these limits. This isn’t the situation with China; the material still can’t seem to be characterized! The moderate situating comes from two things: initially, market perceptions, and, secondly, the way that it permits us to find some kind of harmony among availability and “horological esteem”. We could have made it less expensive, yet then there would not have been a porcelain dial and a tweaked development, and so on We could have added a couple of cool highlights (polish, finish, and so forth), however then the $500 sticker price would have transformed into a far off memory.
You and your accomplice are French. For what reason did you pick “Chinese” inspiration?
It is for sure evident that both of us are French. Going past that, however, we both have an exceptionally solid connection with China. Wilfried (my accomplice) was brought into the world in Hong Kong, speaks Chinese like a neighborhood, did his investigations in the territory (part of his student at Peking University and his Masters at Tsinghua) and is something of a TV VIP. I, myself, likewise completed piece of my examinations in China (at Renmin and Peking University), and I have been, for a couple of years, the understudy/follower of the best expert on Chinese watches in China, Mr Li Wei. Henceforth the Middle Kingdom is, for both of us, exceptionally dear to our souls. We have both noticed the error between what should be possible in the country and how this can be seen outside of it, and since that is something that we feel beyond a reasonable doubt about, we chose to act.
Not just is the motivation Chinese, however so is the production. What does the Chinese watch creation look like today?
Yes, that is the entire thought behind the brand: gladly made in China, with a particular Chinese soul. With respect to Chinese watch industry, I believe that there are two focuses worth noting.
The initial one is that today, most watches are created there. China has an enormous watch industry, and regardless of what’s composed at the lower part of a dial, there is, genuinely speaking, a solid possibility that at any rate a piece of the watch was made in the Middle Kingdom. In any case, that is not something terrible by any means! It just implies that China can make some quality items, in a genuinely competitive way.
The second point is that, of course, the scope, regarding quality, of what is being done there is very wide (from low-finish to best in class), however that is more connected to showcase interest than a real absence of abilities and abilities. We chose to work solely with the absolute best of the country, and to guarantee that this would be the situation, we adopted the bizarre strategy to construct our production network from scratch.
Most miniature and little brands go to a “all in one resource” in either Hong Kong or Shenzhen, which will then do all the assembling for their benefit. What happens is that they have their own stock chains prepared nearby, and afterward they will just “feed” them their customers’ plans and details. While such a methodology is exceptionally convenient, the converse of the award is that you (as a brand proprietor) have no clue about who accurately makes what in your watches.
We chose every one of our 12 providers independently, and we are confident that they are top tier in what they do. The machines our development provider utilizes, for example, are all best in class: Starrag, Zoller, Zumbach AG, and so forth… Some of these, given how costly they are, are just utilized by Patek and the Swatch Group. It would hence be reasonable for say that the nature of the top business players is comparable to good Swiss producers. All things considered, looking at this logically, China can place satellites in circle… So is there any good reason why they wouldn’t be equipped for making quality watches?
You figured out how to finance your task inside 30 minutes on Kickstarter. What are the following steps?
There are many! The first is to begin creation, and that is the reason we are right now in China. Throughout about fourteen days, we are traversing the country to meet our various providers and submit our requests. We are likewise exceptionally caught up with planning for the China dispatch, which ought to happen in March. There’s a great deal of work to be done there: contacting media, setting up the crowdfunding effort (should occur on JD Crowdfunding, yet that isn’t completely sure yet), developing our essence on Wechat, Weibo and the suchlike, connecting with KOL…
We are likewise during the time spent opening our Shenzhen office, which suggests that we need to select new ability to go along with us on this excursion. In conclusion, we are currently raising assets (we have some genuinely yearning plans, and getting some additional capital would permit us to execute them quicker), and that is almost similar to another everyday occupation – my rest design isn’t excessively content with this!
What are the difficulties for a “microbrand” like Atelier Wen?
Again, there are many! A large portion of them are connected to development and to mark building. We have sold one watch, yet one model doesn’t liken to an appropriate and full brand. Presently, the inquiry is, how to really construct a brand? At what speed should new items be delivered? Of course, we need to carry new things to the market, yet on the off chance that such a large number of them are presented in a limited time style, the interest won’t follow and there will be a type of oversupply. Subsequently, what is the correct speed? How would we support the deals of our present models while as yet presenting new ones? Fundamentally, how to move away from the “one-off” model? Development likewise requires some various difficulties: how to remain lean? How to abstain from becoming a complicated wreck while scaling-up? How to expand and wander into new verticals without spoiling the brand value? The most effective method to have a “coherent” expansion (and not to make each new item dispatch similar to beginning another company)?
There are additionally some more “individual” challenges: each day, some new sorts of “exercises” come up, and, as a rule, we have no involvement with all in executing them. Consequently, we should have the option to learn on the spot rapidly. Likewise, as we are developing, the scope of our day by day exercises is changing, and there is a requirement for both Wilfried and myself to appoint a portion of the errands we used to do ourselves. This requires a great deal of trust in the individual who will then be responsible for them, which, initially, is really not easy.
Your first watch is currently a reality and will be delivered. Do you have new ventures in mind?
Of course! The improvement of the second arrangement has quite recently begun, and it will absolutely be an intriguing line of watches. Similarly as with our present line-up, outrageous consideration will be paid to the dial, and you can hope to discover some genuinely novel materials. More accentuation will likewise be laid looking into the issue, to ensure that its shape is genuinely particular and inalienably Chinese. That is certainly not a simple undertaking! The materials we will use for it might likewise be very novel…
I can’t say a lot of now, then again, actually it is new, has some unfathomable properties, and is horrendously hard to work with. On the development side of things, you ought to likewise anticipate a decent astonishment. I have quite recently come back from our development producer, and they showed me another thin programmed type, which is truly beautiful to take a gander at! They likewise have an astounding programmed chronograph development with column haggle finish in progress, and, if things work out in a good way, we ought to be the absolute initial one to utilize it.
More subtleties at atelierwen.com and on www.indiegogo.com .