Robin, Co-Founder of Atelier Wen, About Creating a “Proudly Made in China” Watch Brand

In a new article, we presented you to  Atelier Wen , a youthful “microbrand” dispatched on Kickstarter. Strangely, the brand professed to have genuine Chinese roots – in plan (that was self-evident) yet additionally in production… It’s not regularly 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 quite recently moved on from my Masters at London Business School and previously 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 unremarkable, and, so far, I’ll let it out, 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, web journals, and suchlike consistently. As an aside, around then, my English was really faltering (which is genuinely common in France… ), and perusing all the previously mentioned sources is the thing that truly permitted me to improve it. The coherent consequence of this is that, very soon, I ended up needing a mechanical watch. Of course, I was still a lot of enamored with my Seiko chronograph, however abruptly, to my eyes, it was inadequate with regards to something. There was no development to appreciate, no smooth beat, no rotor commotion, 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 at that point, I had no cash, so practically all such watches were totally distant. 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 illuminators like Ron Good, it was still a lot of strange domains. I by and by fell completely devoted to them, and chose to set aside my pocket cash (€30/month) in an offer to obtain 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. At that point a second one came, and thereafter a third one, and, all things considered, 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 an expert perspective: I did temporary positions at Christie’s in London and at the French Chamber of Watchmaking in Shanghai, and furthermore turned into an unfamiliar consultant to the Chinese government for the global advancement of their watch industry. Up and down this excursion, I was sufficiently blessed to get an unmatched openness to within operations of the Chinese watch industry, and I couldn’t help however see that there was a gigantic inconsistency between how it really is and how it is seen in the West. This hole, this gorge, is the thing that truly roused me to begin Atelier Wen.

What is your first horological memory?

When I was in cinquième (second year of center school), I was an eager peruser of Gizmodo, Engadget and the suchlike. At some point, I unearthed an article examining TokyoFlash watches, and I promptly fell completely devoted to them. They were clearly too large for my wrist, and the gold plating was by one way or another very tasteless for my young age…

Nevertheless, there was a sure vibe radiating out of them, and, some way or another, that felt very applicable and compelling. Eventually, I got one the accompanying Christmas. It was unobtrusively named “Pimp: Trip The Light”, and I had no clue about what this even implied. Additionally, I couldn’t peruse the time appropriately on it, at the same time, still, I felt extremely upbeat when wearing it. All things considered, isn’t this why we wear watches? At some point, shockingly, the battery kicked the bucket (controlling every one of those LEDs should be energy-escalated), and, tsk-tsk, 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 quintessence? The beneficial thing with such an inquiry is that there is no pre-conceived answer and, thusly, a wide imaginative freedom.

If you take a gander at Japan, France or Germany for example, you will see that, plan insightful, there are some all around set up standards and values, and that, to some way or another “fit the bill” (for the absence of a superior word) as a plan beginning 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: first and foremost, 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, however then there would not have been a porcelain dial and an adjusted development, and so forth We could have added a couple of cool highlights (veneer, 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 in fact evident that both of us are French. Going past that, however, we both have a solid connection with China. Wilfried (my accomplice) was brought into the world in Hong Kong, speaks Chinese like a neighborhood, did his examinations in the terrain (part of his student at Peking University and his Masters at Tsinghua) and is something of a TV superstar. I, myself, additionally 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. Subsequently the Middle Kingdom is, for both of us, dear to our souls. We have both noticed the inconsistency 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 sincerely about, we chose to act.

Not just is the motivation Chinese, yet 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 an unmistakable Chinese soul. As to Chinese watch industry, I imagine that there are two focuses worth noting.

The initial one is that today, most watches are created there. China has a colossal watch industry, and regardless of what’s composed at the lower part of a dial, there is, genuinely talking, a solid possibility that in any event a piece of the watch was made in the Middle Kingdom. However, that is not something terrible by any means! It basically implies that China can create 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 cutting edge), however that is more connected to showcase interest than a genuine 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 at that point do all the assembling for their sake. What happens is that they have their own stock chains prepared nearby, and afterward they will just “feed” them their customers’ plans and particulars. While such a methodology is exceptionally convenient, the opposite of the award is that you (as a brand proprietor) have no clue about who correctly makes what in your watches.

We chose every one of our 12 providers exclusively, and we are confident that they are top tier in what they do. The machines our development provider utilizes, for example, are all cutting edge: Starrag, Zoller, Zumbach AG, and so on… Some of these, given how costly they are, are just utilized by Patek and the Swatch Group. It would in this way be reasonable for say that the nature of the top business players is comparable to decent Swiss makers. All things considered, looking at the situation objectively, China can place satellites in circle… So is there any valid reason why they wouldn’t be equipped for making quality watches?

You figured out how to support your venture 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 caught up with planning for the China dispatch, which ought to happen in March. There’s a ton of work to be done there: contacting media, setting up the crowdfunding effort (should occur on JD Crowdfunding, however that isn’t completely sure yet), developing our essence on Wechat, Weibo and the suchlike, connecting with KOL…

We are additionally during the time spent opening our Shenzhen office, which suggests that we need to enroll new ability to go along with us on this excursion. Ultimately, we are currently raising assets (we have some genuinely aspiring 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! The greater part 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 fabricate a brand? At what speed should new items be delivered? Of course, we need to carry new things to the market, however on the off chance that an excessive number of them are presented in a limited time design, 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? Generally, 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 disarranged wreck while scaling-up? How to broaden and wander into new verticals without spoiling the brand value? The most effective method to have a “coherent” broadening (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, generally, we have no involvement with all in executing them. Henceforth, 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 designate a portion of the undertakings we used to complete ourselves. This requires a great deal of trust in the individual who will at that point be accountable for them, which, first and foremost, is genuinely not easy.

Your first watch is currently a reality and will be delivered. Do you have new activities in mind?

Of course! The improvement of the second arrangement has recently begun, and it will absolutely be a fascinating 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 remarkable materials. More accentuation will likewise be laid looking into it, to ensure that its shape is really particular and intrinsically Chinese. That is certifiably not a simple errand! 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 exceptionally new, has some amazing properties, and is horrendously difficult to work with. On the development side of things, you ought to likewise anticipate a pleasant astonishment. I have quite recently come back from our development maker, and they showed me another thin programmed type, which is really perfect to take a gander at! They likewise have an astounding programmed chronograph development with column haggle finish in progress, and, if things work out positively, we ought to be the absolute initial one to utilize it.

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