When did you guys start FREEDOM TO EXIST and how did you get to starting your own company?
We started in 2014. My girlfriend and went shopping to buy her a new watch as a birthday gift, but we couldnt find any that she liked that would also fit her. The ones that she tried on slid up her arm or span on her wrist, and from talking to female friends we discovered it was a common problem. We both work in the design industry, Kirsty designs furniture and I work with the factory from sketch phase to shop floor, and we decided to use our skills in a new product area. We had worked together at MADE.COM when it first launched and that experience inspired us to try our own thing.
Who is in the team and what’s their background?
Kirsty Whyte – Creative Director, Paul Tanner – MD, Adam Daghorn – Design Director. We have 30 years Homewares experience between us, and have taken hundreds of products from the brainstorming phase to fruition.
What’s the story behind the FREEDOM TO EXIST name?
Part of the ethos behind the brand is a backlash against the wearable technology thats becoming more and more all consuming. Around the time of starting the project we read an article that said the 5:2 Diet (eat for 5 days, hardly eat for 2 days) was starting to be applied to how people dealt with Social Media, as they were dedicating two days a week to not using Facebook/Twitter/Instagram. It was around the same time that the Apple Watch was released, and it made us feel that the intrusion and noise generated by wearable technology would make things even worse. We brainstormed name ideas, and after filtering it down to a few options with a common theme, settled upon FREEDOM TO EXIST, as we felt it represented the concept behind the project most effectively.
How does FREEDOM TO EXIST differentiate from others?
There are various watch brands out there, its a market thats growing and growing, but we felt that branding was starting to dominate the watch face more so than the design details. We wanted to create a product that customers would know was an FTE watch due to how elegant and refined it is, rather than having a huge logo beneath the 12 mark. Most of our early sales have come from people stopping us on the tube or in the street and asking where the watch we are wearing is from, as the product caught their attention rather than the logo.
Where are the watches made?
Its a combination of countries. Swiss Mechanism, Italian Leather Strap, Watch Case/Lens made and the watch assembled in South Asia.
What movements are you using and why?
We use Swiss Made Ronda movements. 763.3. A lot of other brands use cheaper quartz options, but we felt that our target customer would desire a swiss mechanism. We wanted a product that looked fantastic, and also had the highest specification components we could provide for the pricepoint. A lot of brands at our pricepoint dont even say what the mechanism they use is, whereas we are very proud of hours.
What makes a good watch and what was important for you guys?
From our personal collections and from talking to friends, it became apparent that people have a regular watch for day to day wear, but most have a watch they only wear for special occasions. Our aim was to provide them with the special watch, the watch they kept for first dates, anniversaries, birthday meals, wedding day, job interviews and so on. With it being a premium item, we also felt that the packaging was really important, as often the product will be bought for someone else as a gift, so we dedicated a lot of time in ensuring the packaging created a wow moment just as much as putting the watch on for the first time.
What’s the inspiration for your collection?
The team are inspired by vintage time pieces, and during the design process we spent a lot of time looking at designs over the last 100 years and also from our personal collections, to agree on the details we would focus on and incorporate. We felt that the domed lens was a key detail to keep, alongside the minimal face. We decided not to have numbers on the watch face because of our ethos, as we are rebelling against information overload, we created a product that gives you the perfect amount of information. Our watches tell the time, no tracking, beeping or monitoring.
Where can I buy your watch and what’s the price?
Our debut watch – 30 Edition – aimed at Women is available from the freedomtoexist.com website, and from SCP, SKANDIUM and WOLF & BADGER in the UK. Our 2nd collection – 40 Edition – aimed at Men and also Women that prefer an oversize watch face, can be found on a Kickstarter campaign.
Where do you see your company in 5 years?
To be offering a wide range of pricepoints, specifications and colours. Choice is something that customers are asking for, and our intention is to grow our options to cater for all of our customers desires.