We recently interviewed Eduardo Peres of Unity Watches about Unity’s unusual approach to watchmaking, where the customer calls all the shots in terms of design by specifying their choice of dial, casing, hands, even the movement. Designed and made in Barcelona Spain, each watch is in a sense a one off, as it is the customer’s choice of element that determines the final product. Here Eduardo explains how Unity came about and how the process works. It’s well worth reading the touching About Us page on the Unity website, as it’s very different from the usual watch company corporate dogma.
1) How did the name Unity Watches come about?
EP: The name UNITY evokes the brand’s essence, its singularity, uniqueness and the distinctiveness of creating something that is ours and ours alone.
These qualities are also reflected in our logo, the symbol for our brand. The letter “N” in our name is made up of two 1s, one the right way up and the other inverted, a visual expression of our 1/1 edition of unique timepieces.
2) On your about us page you talk about a grumpy watch repair man from the past who taught you about choice. Is he the reason you decided on a build your own watch service?
EP: Yes, I can still remember that watchmaker. My idea of setting up UNITY and my passion for watches owe a lot to the time I spent in his small workshop, where I first came into contact with watchmaking.
We don’t really know why, but the experiences we have as children leave a deep mark on us that we never forget and that reappears years later. In my case, that experience changed the way I looked at things. It taught me the importance of creating, leaving our mark and making the things that we do unique, and that’s exactly what I’ve tried to convey with our brand.
3. Where are you manufacturing your watches?
EP: As I mentioned earlier, our watches are an expression of ourselves and our Mediterranean culture, so our timepieces are designed, developed, manufactured and assembled entirely in Barcelona. I do all the work in this city. The only times the watches leave Barcelona is when they go to Switzerland for certain surface finishes (polishing, frosting, DLC black) and when we deliver them to our customers.
In this sense, we’re a completely independent brand and this provides me with a lot of flexibility in terms of production and organization. We can provide a service to customers requesting a unique timepiece with any variations they require.
4. You have chosen the ETA 2824-2 as your movement but there is also a Valanvron V24-2, which is less familiar. What can you tell us about this movement?
EP: Valanvron is not a well-known brand, but it’s a very solid one. Valanvron V-24 movements are Swiss-made and manufactured under the ETA 2824-2 patent. The movement’s specifications are caliber 11½, oscillation frequency 18800 Hz, 21 jewels and 41 hours of back-up power. It works very well and provides excellent value for money.
While we’re on the subject of movements, I can tell you that we’ll be adding new calibers from a Swiss company in 2014, which I think is very special news. That’s all I can say for now, but feel free to keep an eye on our brand for all our latest developments.
5. Can you tell us a little about your Jules Verne model
EP: Our Jules Verne model is a tribute to the Mediterranean and to Barcelona. The material used for the case, aged marine bronze, the luminosity of the dial, a deep blue with sunray finish, and its general bathyscaphe look all combine to evoke the tales of Jules Verne’s submarine. This legendary character also embodies a series of values that UNITY fully identifies with, such as the idea of viewing life as an extraordinary journey, an endless adventure in which the person as individual is the true protagonist.
UNITY has attempted to revive this spirit of 19th-century travelers to transplant it to the age of 21st-century Internet. I’m confident that our Jules Verne model will become one of UNITY’s icons, even though it comes in a limited edition of only 30 watches.
6. Please explain more about how the watch configurator works and how customers can design their own watches.
EP: The configurator visually reflects the essence of our brand, allowing customers to choose the components and personalize their watch right down to the last detail. The person who’s going to wear the watch can be directly involved and participate in making it unique, exactly as they want it to be and expressing their own distinctive personality.
We currently provide the option of choosing between two case designs and about 105 different parts, all of which are top quality. From the time a customer orders a watch to delivery at home, the wait is never longer than 7 calendar days.
We’re also the only brand that’s fully committed to making our customers the protagonists and we’re the only one allowing them the choice to lock their designs so that no others like them are created. We’re even going to take this one step further and engrave “piece 1of1” on the case to prove that their watch is one of a kind, their own, for all those requesting their design to be unique and unrepeatable.
7. Please explain the difference between a soft case and a hard case, which you have as a choice on your watch configurator.
EP: “Strong” and “Soft” are the two case models we offer our customers to begin building their own watch. Both models share a common esthetic approach, with their side “staples” as the brand’s distinctive design element. The main difference lies in their diameter: 44 mm for the “Strong” model and 42 mm for the “Soft” model, as well as the piece’s total volume, which is chunkier and sportier for the “Strong”.
Both models are available in 316L stainless steel with polished, frosted or DLC black finishes - or bronze for the Jules Verne series - and in a few days’ time, we’ll also be launching our “Strong” model in titanium. We’ll be asking our customers to help us choose the dial for this series.
8. The Augmented Reality app on your site is very cool, please tell us how it works.
EP: We’ve used augmented reality technology so that our customers can see how a UNITY watch looks on their wrists in 3D wherever they are. The procedure is very simple. All you need is the bracelet with the display, which you can download from our website, and the display reader, which is an app we’ve developed for iPhone and Android and is available free of charge at the App Store or Google Play. Once you’ve downloaded the app onto your mobile device, all you have to do is aim it at the display on your wrist and… simply enjoy the experience!
9. Can you tell us more about the Open Series, which is several different versions of your watch design.
EP: Open Series is another example of what makes the UNITY brand so unique, with its commitment to making customers the true protagonists. Open Series consists of watches created by our customers who have decided not to make them unique so that they can be sold to other customers.
We then choose the creations among these that we believe are the most striking and turn them into a series.
For example, we have our All Black or X Silver model, which was created for the first time in the US by one of our customers, “Brent”. The series’ name, “X Silver”, is spot on and came about from a survey I ran in the “Relojistas” watch forum to find a name for the model. This is how we try to make our customers build the brand.
10. And finally, at what price will the watches retail and will they be distributed in stores or available only online?
EP: Given the nature of our business model, we’ve decided to distribute our watches exclusively online through our website. I’d also like to mention that 80% of our customers live outside of Spain. As for price, most of our watches can be specified by the customer for under 500 euros.
Eduardo, thank you for talking to us.
Visit the Unity Watches website