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How To Start A Minimalist Fashion Watch Brand (Easier Than You Think!)

Friday, 28th September, 2018

How To Start A Minimalist Watch Brand

You’ve probably seen all these fashion and minimalist watch brands spring up from nowhere and may have wondered, can I start my own watch brand? How Easy Is It? You may think it’s hard to do, or you need a  fundamental background in timepieces. Actually that’s not the case, can you can start your own watch brand pretty easily.

So what do you need? You only need the following 3 things:

  • An idea (the brand & story etc. )
  • Marketing
  • A little bit of start up cash

And that’s it!

Are you ready to start a watch brand? YES! Let’s go.

One of the biggest trends in watches for the mainstream has been the minimalist watches. These watches are all about two things; The brand story, and the design. The brand story can vary, but the design, is the same in basic principle – It’s a minimalism design with varying styles.

One of the most famous in recent years has been Daniel Wellington, Bloomberg recently done an article on the brand titled How Daniel Wellington Made a $200 Million Business Out of Cheap Watches [link] if you’re interested in their story, which is a good read if you’re thinking of wanting your very own watch company.

Read my alternatives to Daniel Wellington Watches post here.

There’s plenty reasons to get into timepieces; You could be a designer wanting your own collection, or a budding entrepreneur wanting to get into watches.


First of all take a look at the image above. Based on design alone, can you tell the difference in the watches? I mean other than the branding, can you honestly tell the difference in terms of aesthetics and design?

The ones on the left are directly from China, whereas the ones on the right are established brands you’ll have probably heard of.

*Full Disclaimer* – I am not saying there’s anything wrong with existing minimalist watch brands (I actually own one), or that they’re similar in any way other than the design. This is a post to show how you can be “The next…” watch brand.

Let’s continue…

Start Up Cash & Money Plan

The start up cash can vary, depending on a load of factors. How many watches do you want to buy at first, how much are you willing to spend, how much your profit margin will be, and what your target market is.

Let’s assume that each watch will cost £10. If you get 100, and you get 3 designs (either various faces, leather straps, variations etc) that’s a total of £3,000, for 300 watches. You will have to pay taxes such as VAT, import tax and duty, as well as delivery, so you have to take that into consideration.

But those 300 watches will be sold for a lot more, we’ll call it a modest £80 each, that’s less than most similar watches in the market. That’s £24,000 in total revenue (note revenue, not profit). That’s a lot. As you can now see, this is why so many people have got into the watch game.

Once the ball is rolling the idea would be to buy more, sell more, and continue; Increase your range or find other markets to sell more. If you increase your volume you get a better deal on buying, so increase your profit margin; But one thing at a time 😉

I’ll quickly mention drop shipping; I wouldn’t really recommend it, but it’s available. If you don’t know it essentially means you don’t see or touch the watch, it will go directly from the supplier to your customer, and you’re technically just the middleman. The good part of this is that there’s no initial outlay, you only pay for what you sell *theoretically*. This article is about having your own proper brand with stock, so I’ll leave drop shipping alone for this article.


Cheap Minimalist Watches For A Startup – Go To China!

China is the place to get your watches, but luckily for you, you don’t have to actually go there. There’s plenty of websites out there these days which you can use for your entire operation, and to get your new brand watches delivered to your door, ready to sell. Sites like Alibaba and Aliexpress are just two.

There’s a ton of watch ideas which are already there, and it’s a case of finding the right supplier, and getting them to create and send your watches to you.

Make sure your design meets the same aesthetic as your story. Minimalist watches look incredibly similar when you break down the design, so there should be no problem there. If you’re going for the luxury market, you’ll need a few USPs; That could be a Swiss movement, genuine leather straps or something else.

China and Cheap doesn’t always mean crap. The parts used can be reasonable, including Japanese and Swiss movements, the same you’ll find in most high street, fashion and minimalist watches from the brands you’ve heard of.

The Brand, The Idea And The Brand Story

You need cash, but you also need the idea. First of all you need to come up with a name of your company. This will be plastered on your watch, as well as all your marketing. Branding is important, so you should think about what the name is going to be, and how it will tie into the brand.

People like stories, they like ideas and the story behind a brand. Since there’s so many watches which people can buy these days, they need a reason to buy from you. The story behind your brand comes in here. You have to create a background story for the brand.

The story should tie into your market, and some of the most overdone ones have been the “Affordable luxury” angles the new watch brands have been using.

The idea is key, because that will tie into all of the marketing which is the most essential part of it all, which we’ll go into soon.


So you’ve got your story, money sorted , found a supplier you’ve selected your watches, and now you’ve taken delivery. Now comes the hardest part, selling them.

You need to market your watches right, to the right people. A lot of the new brands are using social media to market their watches, which is an incredibly effective way to get your watches out there. But you need some preparation first.

Wearing a watch is attractive, you’ve got to sell the dream.

Let’s look at how most of the other minimalist watch companies are doing things.


Sell The Dream

You need to sell the dream to your prospective buyers, and when you’re selling online that comes in the form of high quality images and video, along with some compelling writing (such as your brand story). You can use the following:

Luxury Images For Backgrounds/Back drops

You can use luxurious images as a background or back drop of products or just general images. The images should be of high end things, and be really high quality. This could be exclusive and expensive places and resorts, landmarks, and other things which you’d like to identify your new watch brand to be.

Luxury holiday lifestyle? Maybe use images from Miami and hot beach resorts. Recognisable city landmarks are also a great idea, or just city streets, since the minimal aesthetic is about modern, urban living.

High End Product Shots

Make sure your product shots are high end. This means taking a few shots of the product from different angles, including creating some lifestyle shots. This could be arranging your watches on some furniture, outside or at locations.

Action shots, such as watches being thrown in the air, and watches on wrist can also be used to help the product stand out.

Watchmaking photos

You can use watchmaking photos on your website, and include words such as craftsmanship, and other buzzwords to indicate a supreme build quality. These photos should be industrious but smart, to imply the watches are well made.

Model Shots

If you can, you can hire models for some of product shots. This is not necessarily required, as you can utilise influencer marketing, which will be de-facto models for your watches.

Suit And Shirt, Shoes

Instagram Marketing

Social media is used heavily to market these watches, but mostly, Instagram. There’s two things you really want to accomplish with the marketing; Get the products to influential people, and get the products to the right people; The two are not necessarily the same.

Influential people are those who will give the brand some substance; i.e. If a top influencer is wearing your brand, it gives it some legitimacy – This works in the opposite direction when a person wears a luxury brand it’s a status thing.

The influencer should also be able to bring in some sales.

The other people are the right people, those who are potentially going to general sales for you. You can offer incentives to them, such as commission if they sell, give them to give their followers a percentage off, and so on.

The cost for the marketing can be anything from zero to a hell of a lot of money – It depends on who you’re reaching out to, and your own marketing skills to get the word out.

You can factor in some money and also use some of the watches you’ve got to give to the influencers and other people “for free”.

This obviously costs you money, but at £10~ a piece, it’s pretty cheap if you can get them to the right people.

The marketing is by far the most important part, you could say even more than the product itself, which could be an odd proposition to some.

There you have it! You’ve got your very own watch start up company!

The Brand Is What Sells The Watch

The brand is what sells the watch, so the marketing is the most important part. Branding is everything. If you ask 100 people why they bought watch A over watch B, for 99 it would be branding, even if they didn’t know it.

Ask them about the watch movement, the build quality, the history of the company, the quality of materials, and just about anything else, and they’ll probably not know, or have little interest.

The design plays a part, but as we’ve already established, they are all fairly similar.

Once you’ve got the ball rolling, it becomes easier, and if you become the hot brand everyone wants to talk about and own on Instagram, the rest takes care of itself, with your customers showing off your brand with pride, and at no cost to you.


So that’s it! You’ve got your brand, cash and marketing, and now it’s over to you. That’s how many of the new watch brands you see today got started, and how many continue today.

Are you going to jump on the watch train and start a brand?

What would you do differently to the rest?

You can always find lots of style advice in the men’s fashion guide, with lots of tips on helping you dress better.

Michael Adams

About Michael

Michael Adams is the founder and editor of Michael 84, blogger from Newcastle, UK. Sharing men's fashion tips, style advice and lifestyle information for all guys.

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