Having arrived in the market in November 2015, the London based watch brand Farer has had a successful launch year being well received across the industry. The combination of classical British watch design with high-quality Swiss sports has branded fans around the world, especially in the United States and the United Kingdom home. The four founders Paulo, Ben, Jono, Stu sit down and talk about how it all started, traveled so far, and they stressed this year, what is the future of the store.
We’ve all known each other for years and have previously worked together in various different roles in and out of the watch industry. Between the four of us we have a complimentary set of skills from watch buying, retailing, watch design, and managing brands. However it was really our shared passion for vintage watches that finally convinced us to give up what we were doing and start the business. We very simply believe there is an increasing demand to create stand out timepieces that are inspired by the halcyon days of watch design (in our opinion the fifties and sixties), build them to today’s quality standards using the very best parts and movements, and offer them at a price that represents the best value. It’s these three principles that inform everything we have done and will do. We want to create watches that are seen as a smart purchase by watch fans who are looking for braver, more interesting designs – good quality yet at affordable prices.
From our experience we know that working with Swiss watch suppliers, these things can not be eager to reach the best standards. We also know that we want to design our own customization as well as every component that goes into our watches in addition to the movement itself. Our first launch collection consisted of nine watches so this took around a year of design and development. In the meantime we made multiple trips to Switzerland to visit Roventa Henex, our manufacturing partners, in order to agree to the future product strategy as well as build the infrastructure of the business itself here in London.
From the very beginning we have been committed to designing and creating the finest watches we possibly can at the right price points. For each watch we make, we spend a lot of time negotiating with our manufacturing partners first about what parts and materials are available to use before we even begin to draw. We want Farer watches to be recognized for their build and material quality as well as the designs no matter what the price. It’s this dedication and resilience that we believe can set us apart from the rest. We want Farer customers to know that we’ve worked tirelessly on absolutely every detail and nothing is taken for granted.
We know the company before we met some of the great brands they manufacture to represent some of the best watches. Fundamentally we know that we need to get the best Swiss campaign, which can only fly us through cooperation, philosophy, thought, design, and five-year business strategy. On that day, we agreed to trade, visit their factory, and give a preview of the infamous failure of the branded watch room which is their way of reminding us that it is not easy!
We’ve always set out with the ambition to crack the affordable automatic sector. So in October this year we were pleased to launch our first three automatics to market – Hopewell, Beagle, and Endurance, which all run on the ETA 2824-2 Swiss movement. The question we are always asked is why we started with a Quartz collection – the simple answer is cost. The quartz collection used both Ronda and ETA movements and was more financially achievable at the beginning of the business. Moving forward, we will look to launch more Quartz and Automatic watches all using Swiss movements to achieve the very best offering to our customers. This will continue to allow us to play in the £300 – £1500 sector with a full range offering where we see there being increasing demand for well made watches.
Absolutely. With the price points we are aiming at with Swiss movements, we know there are a number of different types of customers out there. The quartz collection allows us to play to the guy who enjoys the aesthetic of the watch above anything. Then you get everyone from a collector of fine watches who enjoys discovering new brands and interesting designs to a younger customer who is looking for his first automatic watch to invest in. We talk about being a universal brand when it comes to design and hope we continue to appeal to this wide range of people. Just like some of our favorite vintage brands, we want to design pieces that don’t all look the same and have a broad design aesthetic whilst still being a part of the family.
As much as anything we have had lots of reassurance from the market towards our design approach this year. From the original launch collection, the GMT’s have been notable stand outs – the Carter and Barnato are both best sellers closely followed by the Sub-Dial range. The people that wear our watches enjoy the colors and the attention to detail we design with. The subtle changes in finish on the cases, the range of textures we use on the faces, the vintage inspired curved dials housed in the domed sapphire glass, the tiny colored key lines around the over printed numbers, and rarely seen features on modern watches such as the bronze skeleton hands on our Meakin model. We try and push the manufacturing capabilities of Roventa Henex as much as we can and as a result they always enjoy the challenge of making a Farer watch.
On the other hand, we all know that too many colors will make people stay away from us as much as possible for the balance. We try to subtly bright colors, so they are less overbearing, as in the new auto range. However, by far the most interesting design theme is the bronze crown we use all of our watches. It is absolutely love or hate. We got some good mail saying “Great watch but can you change my crown?” The answer is unfortunately not. We know we can not ask people to design and since the first day we’ve always wanted to have a function that became recognizable. Brave design always has a part of the fun of the critics.
First and foremost we are on the lookout for a store in Central London. We’ve always thought it important to have a space where people can come in and try on our watches and experience the brand. The plan is to open the doors in the middle of next year. Following that, it’s all about new product launches. We’ve just signed off on the designs of the GMT Automatics which will arrive Spring 2017. We’re now currently working hard on a new cushion case shape, a Super Compressor and a Chronograph which are all planned to arrive in 2017 all things going to plan. Being a small brand, we have the opportunity to work at a pace compared to the larger brands, so our ambition next year is to launch around ten new watches. But as the range grows we will also look to retire some designs as they sell through. We feel it’s important that our customers get as much value from the watches they buy as possible, making many eventually exclusive.