When the Melbourne Watch Company launched their first model, the Flinders, in 2013, it was received by locals and style fans abroad with open arms and kicked some serious crowdfunding goals in the process, proving there was a demand for elegant and affordable locally produced watches, and hence Melbourne Watch Company’s instant niche in the marketplace was formed.
Fast forward a mere four years and the eponymously Victorian watchmakers have a huge range of well-priced luxury timepieces and a unique showroom experience for customers who want to learn more about their purchase, or order something not in stock.
We caught up with founder and owner Sujain Krishnan to discuss the success of his company, what makes Melbourne a great city, and the future of his watch empire.
Since 2013, your watches have made their way on to the wrists of many, both Melburnians and fans abroad, what elements of ‘Melbourne’ lend themselves to the Melbourne Watch Company?
We’ve always tried to keep things simple in terms of our designs, with a focus on blending classic styles with modern manufacturing. This is our way of reflecting the combination of the old and new that we feel exemplifies one of the best aspects of Melbourne.
What would you say is Melbourne Watch Company’s proudest achievement to date?
I’d have to say that the opening our of new showroom in Carlton was our proudest achievement. It’s still a bit surreal some days to come into work and have everything we’ve achieved on display in our own space here.
Do you have any particular style-heroes or inspirations? Who would you love to see rocking a Melbourne Watch Company timepiece?
We’d be honoured if we could get our watches on the wrist of a famous Melburnian one day. Chris Hemsworth? Sadly, Tag has him locked down though!
Apologies in advance for this horrible pun, but what is it that makes a Melburnian tick?
That one’s easy – Coffee! The great café culture here is one of our favourite things about Melbourne.
You started out online, but now have an official Melbourne Watch Company showroom with a unique shopfront experience, tell us a little bit about it, and how customers are welcomed to the space.
Rather than go down the traditional retail route, we wanted to create a space where customers could come and experience our collections in person in a relaxed environment. Customers can enjoy a tea or coffee and meet the team while trying on collections, all hosted by our showroom staff. There’s no pressure to buy anything, but customers can usually leave with their preferred watch if we have stock available. We also do strap changes, bracelet adjustments etc. and we will soon be offering bespoke builds on certain collections.
The different models are quite varied in their aesthetics, do you find a lot of repeat business, where customers are likely to get a few different pieces as they’re released?
Yes – we’re really happy that we get a lot of repeat business. It’s good to know that people are happy with their first purchase and our after-sales service and are willing to buy from us again.
It’s called Melbourne Watch Company, and the pieces are named after the suburbs of Melbourne, how do you engage customers who aren’t based in Melbourne to get involved and buy a watch, without being typecast as a strictly ‘locals brand’.
We’ve got a very broad customer demographic, including 30% of all sales going overseas (mainly to the US). The Melbourne branding is only part of what we are trying to offer – ultimately we are aiming to produce high quality pieces that stand alone from the connection to Melbourne as a place.
What sets a Melbourne Watch Company piece apart from some of the other locally produced brands on the market?
We’ve found that most local brands are in the cheaper ‘fashion’ watch segment of the market, which we don’t really cater to – we’re focusing on offering mechanical pieces at an affordable price point. We also pride ourselves on our exceptional customer service, with all support handled here locally by our team.
And lastly, Melbourne Watch Company has expanded rapidly from one model in 2013, made possible by crowdfunding, to a huge range available today in both men’s and women’s models. Where will the brand head in the next four or so years?
The next big step for us is assembling all our pieces locally, which will be happening over the next few months. In addition to this, we’re about to start with a limited release of ‘bespoke’ watches (beginning with our Portsea Heritage range). This will allow customers to customise their watch during purchase, e.g. choose the colour of dial, hands, case, etc. and we will then build to order here at our workshop. After this, our next big goal is to begin producing components here in Melbourne, but that is longer term given the investment required.