Kirsty had trouble finding a watch that she liked that would fit her. They tended to spin on her wrist or slide up her arm. As a designer, she and her husband Paul Tanner worked to create a new watch to solve the problem. With that said, let’s get into the latest installment of our series, “Interview with a Watch Maker.” Today, we’re talking with Paul Tanner of Freedom To Exist.
WristWatchReview (WWR): What is your history with wristwatches?
Paul Tanner: We are a new watch brand, so how history is short as we launched in November 2015, but our aesthetic and ethos is timeless and classic.
We believe freedom is the freedom to choose, to fall in love, to wear what you want, how you want to. It’s the Freedom To Exist.
That’s what inspired a group of design-lovers to create their own watch brand – because we wanted to create timepieces free from fast fashion and trend. We create products that honour the classic detailing that makes vintage watches truly timeless. Finally, we wanted a little space away from the noise of branding and technology too. That’s why, when you wear an fte watch, we let the design speak for itself and keep our name hidden where only you can see it.
WristWatchReview (WWR): Why is now the right time to become a watchmaker?
Paul Tanner: Customers are becoming much more design savvy, and are looking for unique products that help show of their personality and style.
Weve also seen a trend with people wishing to be less branded. The recent Scandi trend is all about minimal and being as pared back as possible. We have applied this to our watch, by making sure it isn’t over branded and covered in dials and diamantes.
WristWatchReview (WWR): Before you became a watchmaker, what was your intended career path in life? How did you come to watch making?
Paul Tanner: We have always had a passion for watches and design.
Between the founders we have nearly 30 years’ experience in the design and retail industry. We all met while working in furniture and homeware design, and has a common interest in time pieces, but we couldn’t find the perfect one. So decided to do it ourselves.
WristWatchReview (WWR): Why this watch?
Paul Tanner: It couldn’t be anything else. The Edition One for Freedom To Exist has evolved and developed from so many design elements we love. Its has been distilled into the final piece. Minimal , functional and affordable. We designed the watches to be the best they can be and every design element has been considered. From the domed crystal, to the alignment of the hands and dial markings.
WristWatchReview (WWR): Where do you think the industry is moving?
Paul Tanner: People are discovering a love for watches and accessories again. With so many young stylists, bloggers and Instagrammers out there finding the product that represents you had become important. Customers are investing in more than one watch for different outfits and occasions. Its always pleasing when your watch strap matches your shoes and accessories!
WristWatchReview (WWR): Where do you fit within that future?
Paul Tanner: Our designs are free from fast fashion. Our aim is that our watch design will remain classic, we don’t follow seasonal launches, that as the company grows we can expand the range & colours, but the aesthetic remains the same. We hope that because our Edition One is as a great price point we can introduce new & loyal customers to our brand; which already seems to be happening; just check out our Instagram!
WristWatchReview (WWR): How do online communities play a part in that?
Paul Tanner: The online community is absolutely vital, as it gives small start-ups like us an international platform. We can reach customers all over the world immediately and as we have free international shipping there is no discrimination. You can receive one of our watches anywhere! In the past it would have taken years to source retailers to amass an international customer base.
Blogs are also a great online resource, for reviews but also for styling. Looking at how one blogger wears the same watch to another is a great source for inspiration for us and our customers.
WristWatchReview (WWR): What are you doing to develop a strong community feedback loop? How does that community feedback change the watch business?
Paul Tanner: We achieved quick success with Instagram – with success being defined as followers.
Having people like our images, tell their friends, comment on our images. I think social media as a whole can help capture immediate customer feedback.
The reason we ran a Kickstarter for our 40 Edition was because we had so many followers ask for it, they really love the 30 Edition, and wanted a larger size either for themselves or their partner. As we grow as a brand and are able to provide more options, design details such as colour, metals, finishes and mechanism could be something we get feedback on before mass production.
WristWatchReview (WWR): How do you define your ideal consumer? Who is it, in your mind, that wears your brand’s watch?
Paul Tanner: That’s a tough one, we don’t like to pigeon hole our customers. We’re keen to show that people of all ages and backgrounds can style our watches to suit them. That’s why the design is pared back, so it complements the outfit, rather than screaming “look at me”.
WristWatchReview (WWR): What is it that defines your watch? What characteristics are identifiably “YOUR BRAND”?
Paul Tanner: The fact that we’re covertly branded. It’s the design that speaks first; then when its admired the wearer can say its Freedom To Exist.
We’ve considered a lot of elements. From the lozenge profile, stitched strap and easy to read dial.
WristWatchReview (WWR): Along that line of questioning, What are your guiding principles when making design choices?
Paul Tanner: Honest – We don’t dress things up or hide behind pretty words and design jargon. We let our design speak for itself.
Considered – A piece is only finished when it’s been tried, tested, tweaked, changed and we’ve fallen in love with it. If it doesn’t have design details we’re proud of, then we’re not done.
Affordable – Our prices are fair, for design lovers of every walk of life.
WristWatchReview (WWR): How do you think about design and its role in your life?
Paul Tanner: Design enhances everyone’s everyday life, even if they aren’t aware of it.
Good design is what make us tick. No pun intended.
WristWatchReview (WWR): What would the crowning lifetime achievement be for you and your brand as a company?
Paul Tanner: The most rewarding thing is seeing someone wearing one of our pieces and that warm feeling of pride and achievement, which acts as a reward for all that hard work. Its not so much a crowning achievement, more an ongoing motivation that drives us forwards. http://Freedomtoexist.com
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