FASHION - INTERVIEW
Tuesday, June 5, 2018
FASHION - INTERVIEW
by Mehmet Kaplan
We use watches that are digital or analog, cheap or expensive, classic or modern, aviation or diving models. In fact, we want the watch we use to be a unique piece that tells about us. Akerfalk Watches has a design for people who live 24 hours of a day. You will already understand the difference when you first see it.
I talked with Akerfalk Watches founder and CEO Mikael Söderberg to learn more about the Akerfalk philosophy and its future.
Could you tell us a little about your background and design experience?
We are a small team that complements each other very well.
Rickard has his background in the invention industry. He has been fascinated by inventions since he was a kid, he loves bringing new inventions to life and making old ones better. He likes problems (yes it does sound crazy), but it’s from the problems that ideas come to life.
Mikael comes from the fashion industry. He has worked with product development and buying processes from both Europe and the Far East, for more than 15 years. For the past 4 years he´s been working as a self-employed entrepreneur.
Joakim runs his own marketing and design agency for more than 10 years. He has a key role in the design process of the watch and great knowledge about the watch industry.
How did you decide to create Akerfalk watches? What inspired you to design 24 hour timepiece concept?
This project started almost 3 years ago. In the beginning, it was just a discussion between three friends about their common love for watches. Later on, it became more serious and we began to focus on how most part of the watches on today’s market are designed. We had to find a space in the market, something unique. My friend and now business partner, said "Let's do a 24-hour watch!".
When scanning the market, we noticed that there are only a few brands that makes a fully dedicated 24-hour watches. And most of them have too many functions or are designed in a way that makes it hard to actually tell the time.
We started to work on the design and the search for suppliers that could handle it.
After endless meetings and discussions, we landed in a clean design. We also found a supplier that was professional and fully understood our project.
The first samples were produced and tested. The choice of the 24-hour Ronda movement was great, but we had to work harder on the case design, glass and hands.
Back to the design, "Let's apply some 60's vintage design on the case and glass!". The result became this beautiful double dome glass, curved minute hand and dial Åkerfalk Watch.
We use the best materials and the finish in our price segment. With Apple in mind, we aim super high when it comes to build quality and finish. We now feel that we have found a gape in the market with our First Season Åkerfalk Watch, one unique 24-hour timepiece.
What kind of challenges did you live on creation process? How did you solve?
How could we finance this project and still own the company our self? We had no problem to get money from investors, but we agree that we should find a way to do it without any support from external investors.
The idea to make a crowdfunding campaign came up as an idea to finance the first order and give us some help in the start. We started to plan for a Kickstarter campaign, but we changed our mind fast after that Indiegogo saw our product and offer some help to launch our campaign with them.
The early stage of the design process was a challenge, how could we create a clean design with so many numbers, we had to make room for all 24-hours. We spend endless of hours in the design phase, back and forth, the first design was nice to looks at in the computer, but the outcome of the sample wasn’t good enough, the wow feeling was missing. After our decision to go for a 60’s retro design we finally found the DNA of Åkerfalk and the Wow feeling.
To find a suitable movement for our design was a big challenge, there are only a few dedicated 24-hour movements in the market, after discussion with our supplier and test we found the Ronda 515.24 movement.
Sweden has a traditional design culture. Which part of the Akerfalk wristwatch mostly reflects this Swedish design culture?
The clean design feels very much like Swedish design and the attention to details, the minute rail design, the curved dome glass, the sleek design of the case. The curved minute hand in gold that follow the shape of the dial, cone shaped crown screw and the nice engraved wood on the backside of the watch. The watch comes in a nice leather travel box that you can actually use. Our brand profile is reflecting the Swedish nature. To sum it up, clean design, attention to details, practical design focus.
Which materials and movement do you use on Akerfalk watches? How did you decide to right material for each part?
We use a polished 40 mm 316L stainless steel case, we want the watch to have a classic look, so we didn’t have that many options for the case. To make a twist we made the PVD matt black case, there are no watches with a 60’s retro design in matt black on the market and for sure no one that is using a 24-hour dial. The heart of the watch is a quartz movement from Ronda, 515.24. This is a reliable movement that will run for 36 months before you need to replace the battery. Easy choice for us as this is one of few quality 24-hour movements on the market.
How many types of watch and strap combination is avaliable? Can customers change straps without any professional support?
We have one design today, the First Season watch. It comes in 3 different finishes, Silver, gold and matt black, dial colors are satin black or satin white. 2 colors of Italian calf leather, brown or black. 3 different Mocha colors, black, light brown or light grey. 3 options in metal mesh (Milanese metal mesh), silver, gold and matt black. One limited edition, green cotton canvas strap.
All watches come with one extra Nato strap free of charge in black or green. Packed in our beautiful leather travel box.
Straps for every occasion! It’s very easy to change strap with our quick release system. Store them in our leather travel case. Trendy Milanese strap for everyday use. Classic Italian calf leather for the late-night dinner. Rugged mocha with its nice texture that will age beautifully. All watches come with one extra Nato strap for all your adventures.
You made a very successful Indiegogo campaign last year. What was the key point of your success?
Yes, we are very happy for this campaign and the love for our design. One of the most important keys is of cores the design, the combination of the retro design and the 24-hour dial. We manage to find a small gap in the market. The support from close friends and family, the impact and marketing on social media. We started marketing 2 month before we launched the campaign. We created a nice video that captures the DNA of our brand and the product.
Do you have any advice to other entrepreneurs who want to start a new campaign on Indiegogo?
You have to find a gap in the market, even if it’s an existing product there have to be a twist to it. The first persons who will buy your product is you family and friends. Make sure that you have 50 persons ready to buy the product the first day of the campaign. It’s actually the first 3 days and the last 5 days who is the most important. You can more or less tell if the campaign will be a success after 3 days.
Use influencers and brand ambassadors to reach as many people as possible for your product. Depending on watch product you sell most effective media right now is YouTube and Vloggers.
What do you think about the competition between analog watches and smartwatches? In your opinion, could analog clocks protect their existence in the future?
Sure, there will always be room for analog watches. We are very sure that in the near future people want to go off line. Even today it’s hard to not be online, almost everything we use is connected to the internet and have a constant flow of information. So why not use an analog watch to just keep track of the time.
But if you really need to know the pulse wear both a smartwatch and the analog watch like our designer Joakim. There is still no smart watch that is nice enough to beat the look of a well design analog watch.
Do you have any smartwatch design ideas?
We don’t have any plans to design our own smartwatch, but we would love to have our design as a skin for smartwatches from Apple or Samsung.
Today we live social media era. How do you use social media for your brand awareness? Which one do you prefer?
We use Instagram and Facebook today, but we also look in to other ways to create awareness with brand ambassadors and temporary showrooms with physical products at hotels or other places with a lot of traffic.
How can our readers buy Akerfalk watches?
Visit our shop at akerfalk.com we have free shipping worldwide. And 2-5 days delivery.
What are your growth plans for the Akerfalk Watches?
We are not in a hurry, we take baby steps forward every day. We are focusing on marketing and selling in Europe at the same time as we have a successful campaign running in Japan. We are also about to start our partner program here in Sweden. Collaborations with hotels that will display our watches. We are always looking for new ways to sell our watch. If you have a store or e-shop or other ideas you are welcome to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Thank you Mikael.