Crownarch: Interview with a watchmaker, and a Rose Gold review
The Crownarch is available in stainless steel, or rose gold PVD coating stainless steel. We had the pleasure of wearing both models, and found the rose gold color way to be a nice easy wear. Rose gold with a deep blue dial looks excellent, especially when you dress properly. It’s not much with jeans and a faded t-shirt from that band you saw 10 years ago, but it looks the part when you wear shirtsleeves with cuffs.
The case is gently rounded towards the crystal, and the mesh bracelet is colored to match the case. The hand length is perfection, hour hands reaching hour markers, and minute hands touching the minute track. It’s excellent when these things don’t fall short, and they don’t on the Crownarch watches: These things are designed correctly.
The Crownarch Chrono R-1 has the rose gold. It has the deep blue dial. It has proper length hands, and is nicely symmetrically laid out in a vertical two sub dial configuration, thanks to its Hi-Precision VD51 Japanese Movement. At 10.5mm thin, 43mm diameter, it’s an easy wear on the wrist without feeling too large. We took the time to ask Michael Oladipo, the founder of Crownarch, about what inspires him.
WWR: What is your history with wristwatches?
Michael Oladipo: I’ve always been a fan of watches, ever since i was bought my first watch aged 13, it was a swatch watch purchased in Italy, I remember how it made me feel at the time. I think that’s where my love developed.
WWR: Why is now the right time to become a watchmaker?
MO: I personally identify myself as a member of the target market and I wanted to build a brand that speaks to my generation and gives them true bang for their buck. Watches are a real personal feeling and it goes deeper than just telling the time. It gives men a sense of confidence in different aspects, in the office, in a club etc.
WWR: Before you became a watchmaker, what was your intended career path in life? How did you come to watch making?
MO: I was always interested in becoming an entrepreneur, before this I already set up online businesses but this is the first business I am truly passionate about, it doesn’t feel like working. In the back of my mind I’ve always thought it would be cool to start my own watch brand and just wear them myself but the idea just grew bigger and bigger, then i did a ton of research and took courses because I wanted to respect the craft and it would be easier to communicate with manufacturers.
WWR: Why this watch?
MO: The end goal was to create something a watch that has the tri-factor of mass appeal, value and quality and I believe I’ve got the perfect mixture. I knew i wanted a chronograph because it’s just that bit more sophisticated in my opinion but i didn’t want to go with a completely safe design, chronographs 8/10 are usually paired with a leather strap.
WWR: What’s been the biggest manufacturing or engineering challenge you faced so far?
MO: Finding the right supplier, I’ve dealt with manufacturers before but not on a really technical product like watches, so there definitely was teething problems.
Honest communication with your supplier is key and this is something that can be very difficult to find but when you do, the hair-pulling was worth it.
WWR: Where do you think the industry is moving?
MO: I very much think the consumer still appreciates watches, I know some people fear the smart watch but i don’t think traditional watches are going anywhere, anytime soon. However, I think the consumer is definitely more interested in the brand behind the watch and what value does it provide besides a great design.
WWR: How do online communities play a part in that?
MO: Probably the biggest role, Social media impacts every aspect of our lives, it’s where we give a lot of our attention, I don’t think you can launch a watch brand today and not be on social media, especially if you bootstrap it but i welcome anyone to prove me wrong. If majority of your target market spends a lot of their time on social media, you’d be shooting yourself in the foot if you’re not on there, competing for their attention.
WWR: What are you doing to develop a strong community feedback loop? How does that community feedback change the watch business?
MO: Well, we are big on collaborating with young talented individuals within the online space on various projects. A lot of them create user-generated content, that we post on our socials and email campaigns, this is something our target audience see and engage with us on. Furthermore, we are still a young brand that is still learning and we tend to encourage user feedback on everything we do and we do get constructive feedback that we take on board.
WWR: How do you define your ideal consumer? Who is it, in your mind, that wears your brand’s watch?
MO: Our customers are male and aged between 18-31, they are aspiring males that are in their careers and are looking to succeed they aspire to have the finer things in life. Which is why we have specific photography, we define our main marketing principle as being “the ideal reflection of our target market”
WWR: What is it that defines your watch? What characteristics are identifiably “YOUR BRAND”?
MO: As a brand we set out to create an unforgettable brand experience. We wanted to send our customer on a journey; from the moment they are introduced to Crownarch, through to the moment they unwrap their timepiece. An obsession with detail was key and is depicted through our visual storytelling, where you see our watches sitting comfortably in the surroundings of yachts, supercars and private jets.
WWR: Along that line of questioning, What are your guiding principles when making design choices?
MO: I ask myself a series of questions like: “Does it look nice?” “Would my customers like this, does this design fit in with the Crownarch brand?” Then i also consider the the design element is functional and also the cost implications. But we are a design focused brand, we know it would be a lot cheaper to package our watches in standard flat-pack cardboard boxes but it doesn’t fit within our brand, that is why we chose the much more heavy and expensive glossy wooden boxes.
WWR: How do you think about design and its role in your life?
MO: For me, design is the biggest factor because at the end of the day, the customers have to be proud to wear it, even if there is a more expensive watch in the room. I guess my strengths came out in this because I was very meticulous on design, even on the minute details that the average customer wouldn’t be able to tell the difference. It probably drove my supplier a bit crazy but I had to get the design.
Also I had also gathered people already expect quality and value, i.e when you buy a watch for £145 you expect it to last and not fall apart within the first 3 months.
So even if i focused all my efforts on quality it wouldn’t necessarily differentiate me from the market. Design would do that,
WWR: What would the crowning lifetime achievement be for you and your brand as a company?
MO: I’ll keep it simple and won’t say a number because once you’ve reached a number you will set a goal to reach another one. So I’d say walking down the street and seeing someone I don’t know wearing a Crownarch watch, that would make my day.
Founder, Michael Oladipo, 24 years old based in the UK
The Crownarch watch is not an expensive watch as watches go. It’s listed at 145 GBP, or about 180 USD. For the money, you can wear a watch that looks simple, clean, and wears comfortably. If you’d like to wear a Crownarch chronograph, go to crownarch.com.
Brand & Model: Crownarch Chrono R1
Price: 145 GBP or about $180 USD
Who we think it might be for: You like a tasteful watch, that’s comfortable and can be worn anywhere.
If I could make one design suggestion, it would be: I’d like a bracelet made of finer, thinner metal mesh.
What spoke to me the most about this watch: The plain clarity of its character: it is what it is, without frippery.
Tech Specs from Crownarch
Case size: 43mm
Case material: steel (rose gold)
Strap: stainless steel in rose gold mesh bracelet
Movement: Japanese VD51 quartz movement