It’s doubtful that anyone has their finger on the pulse of micro brands like those who actually produce them. Our guest today is Billy Lau from Evertime Orologic. Billy has been involved in making microbrands fro many years as a contract manufacturer and his company has produced watches for several different micros. We asked him to share his thoughts on the design trends he’s noticed as a manufacturer. – MBWW 

Thanks for the invitation from MicroBrandWatchWorld again. I’m glad to share another article with the MBWW audience. I actually spend most of my day time on watch review blogs, forums and brand pages, there is a lot of interesting feedback & ideas from watch enthusiasts. We can easily observe the growth of the microbrand industry and I am pretty sure that there is more to come. More to read and more to be gained from others, new things & knowledge appear every day.

In the past few months, we can see the trend of homage models and established brands are paying more attention to small details. It is a wise strategy for brands moving away from the Diver style. The competition became intense, especially on price and was getting too unsustainable.

But still, making Diver style is a good plan for new brand to build up. Consumers can easily determine the watch value by judging the specifications. Most would spend more for a high beat movement, a higher water resistant rate, a better visibility lume, a bracelet model, a sapphire crystal…etc. All these specifications can be easily gauged and we are happy to pay for it. Brands like: Boldr, Nodus, Balticus…they all do well.

And as regards to the popularity of SevenFriday in past two years, we could see some brands which are doing similar kinds of futuristic design, complicated dial & case building. CJR does have huge impact. They had the Airspeed which was nice to have the front & bottom crystal mounting the middle case like a hamburger and developed the next model Commander which is just completed the Kickstarter campaign. Then there’s KLYNT as well as Stage-watch, they did great job on the watch which generated interest for the dial design and details. Xeric keeps their momentum on the dial face with special time reading designs. They all twist the traditional time reading concept.

When it comes to homage, The best examples to me aren’t totally copying vintage models. Brands make their own size, new proportion of case & opening, new element is added and even a change of material. These approaches that make the watch a bit different and it contain its own personality. Examples like Tropic 300 from Evant, NTH collection from Janis Trading, AstroHelm from Advisor Watch Co, Bullshark from Borealis…etc

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And we can see more brands are taking care on small details, like shape of case back & key, case profile finishing, thickness of case, clearance of the crystal, rotor design & coloring, dial finishing and lume brightness & color, hands design, strap design and softness, buckle design and fitting accuracy. These boosts make a watch design more complete and more unique. All hidden efforts which brand owners do not necessarily highlight but become obvious when comparing with the old models. Sometimes, I can’t resist buying a piece for myself after reading the launch post and we are widely benefited from all these enhancements that microbrand owners make.

Apart from sharing a general review of trends I’ve seen as a manufacturer, I was also asked to discuss some new ideas for watches that we don’t see often as manufacturers. Here are a few areas where small changes could yield big results.

Straps

Designers could think further about strap materials…if there are different kinds of leather rather than calf, would it be matching and applying into watch?

Plating Colors

Plating colors is another area for innovation, we normally see brands are using PVD black, blue, brown, rose, gold but surely that there are more different colors which were applied on electronic, jewelries & phones and they can be applied into watch industry.

Ceramic Colors

Dual color ceramic insert, it is interesting one after reading the post from Deep Blue & Davosa…and we could apply more variations on the ceramic.

Crystal Coating

The most common treatment is a blue hue coating but in reality there are many different color options…from red, orange, yellow, green, purple, gold to phantom.

I am sure that the more you discuss with the production partner & consumers, the more new ideas will be generated. So for someone you are intended to have your brand, own design, I do hope that you will find a right partner to being and to work with. The key triangle is never changed (Consumer > Brand > production partner).

Thank you for your time and I hope you enjoy my post. See you at the HK Watch Fair 2017.

Thanks Billy! If you are interested in starting your own micro brand and would like to talk to Billy you can reach him at billylau@evertime-orologic.com. If you are planning to attend the HK Watch Fair in early September, make sure to get in touch with Billy to setup a meeting.