It’s been a crazy few weeks and my hiatus didn’t feel like the vacation I had hoped for! But this week I want to jump right into things, no silly intro and no random tie in. I’ll get back to that next week. Also, given the subject matter, I'm posting here in the general forum, instead of my usual High End post. So without further ado, SevenFriday – the brand that is changing the way watches are advertised and how brands rise from obscurity. Oh, and they get by with a little help from their friends!
I first heard about SevenFriday the way many other people did, through social media. Looking back on that fateful day, I had no idea I was witnessing the birth of a brand and a revolution to the industry. I was browsing my normal watch blogs at lunch (at this point I already had over twenty I visited every day for the latest watch news) and I clicked on over to Watch-Anish.com. Some of you might already know Watch Anish as the place where watches, fashion, and lifestyle meet. I was reading their latest article, looking at pics by the ever popular Wristi, and clicked over to the Watch Anish Tumblr page when I was smacked in the face by a watch I had never seen before but instantly wanted to know what it was. I read the description and thought… Who is SevenFriday? So ten seconds later I was clicking on their link from a Google search and the rest, as they say, is history!
The CEO of SevenFriday, Daniel Niederer, had chosen a strategy that almost every major watch brand up until that point had shunned, as most still do to this day. He chose to go where the people are, a lot of people, and make a splash via social media. Honestly anybody who doesn’t realize that social media is potentially the most powerful marketing space is blind (*ahem… Rol… ah, nevermind). BUT what SevenFriday did that no company yet had done, is that they didn’t really ADVERTISE, they simply made themselves available and got some influential people to wear and show their stuff, but never in a typical marketing sort of way. That is where Watch Anish comes in.
Anish Bhatt, the namesake behind the now Instagram powerhouse, had already developed a strategy for Watch-Anish.com. He didn’t try to sell anything; he didn’t try to claim that certain brands were better or focus on any one style of watch. What he did was focus on lifestyle, fashion, and his favorite accessory, watches. And that has made all the difference. He allowed people to see his style, see what he liked and, what social media was intended for, share it with their friends. I don’t know about you, but I care a lot more about what people I know are buying or watching or reading or listening to than any clever ad or celebrity endorsement could ever hope to make me. I trust the people I know, and I know them enough to understand if their opinion is worth listening to. Basically he had stumbled on to the whole idea behind social media, don’t force it; let the people decide. Of course this is a risky strategy and that is why almost every company EVER would never make this their main advertising strategy. Luckily Daniel Niederer took the road less traveled.
SevenFriday and Watch Anish are pretty much spoken in the same breath these days and it’s for good reason, they have helped each other explode onto the scene and change the industry forever. Watch Anish had a pretty solid following when Anish bought his SevenFriday, and when he started making shots and posting images in his amazing style wearing the SevenFriday P1, of course his followers did what they always do, they asked “Where did you get that watch?” and “Who makes that watch?” and “I want to buy one, where can I buy one!?” And with those first few pictures, the future was more than a little brighter for SevenFriday. In fact, those first few shots were actually a part of SevenFriday’s newest advertising strategy and were taken as a photo shoot to help promote the fledgling brand. It worked.
Since then the rise of SevenFriday and Watch Anish have been shooting towards the sky with more than a little style. Watch Anish shoots photos of every watch he can get his hands on, many worth well over six figures, and yet for every $150K Rose Gold Vachatek Rolemars PeCoultre there is an equally impressive shot of the SevenFriday on his wrist while flying in a helicopter or sitting in the driver’s seat of an old Italian sports car. This is what sets SevenFriday and Watch Anish apart, integrity. I’m not saying that other brands don’t have integrity, but what I’m saying is that the kind of integrity brought to the table by Watch Anish and upheld by SevenFriday is based around honesty, upfront purpose, and a sense that they just want you to enjoy what you enjoy. I think this is the true genius of social media and using it to promote your wares. If SevenFriday had simply tried the same old technique of touting history or technology, they would have been lost in the crowd.
Instead they realized that people don’t want to be told what to buy or what lifestyle they should have, they want to explore the world and make decisions for themselves. That is why social media has become a driving force for the next generation. Now it is simply up to you to give them another option. SevenFriday believed in their product, they knew that they were a groundbreaking design, a great quality piece, at a very affordable pricepoint. The only thing left to do was let people see it, give them an idea of why it was awesome, and let them decide for themselves. I knew this even before I met the men behind SevenFriday and Watch Anish, and after meeting both at Baselworld this last spring, I greatly respect what they are doing for the industry as a whole.
Yes, I know them (otherwise I would really be speaking out of my ass when I say any of this) and I have had lengthy discussions with both about this whole topic. Not saying that any of this is sanctioned by the respective players, it is just my view on things after learning more about them and taking a look at the reality around me. Anish I now consider a good friend and Daniel is a man that, if it weren’t for him living in Switzerland and myself in Atlanta, I would try to have lunch with him as often as possible simply to pick his brain and discuss his ideas on the industry. He has a flair for marketing, according to Anish, and is incredibly humble about his accomplishments. Anish is another man who is extremely personable and humble about his influence through social media. In every respect they both exemplify all the qualities a businessman should hope to strive for.
Currently, both Anish and Daniel are on a SevenFriday US Tour stopping at major cities where SevenFriday’s are sold and having events for the fans of this rising star called SevenFriday. I had the opportunity to spend an extended evening with them last Monday for the first stop on their US tour here in Atlanta. Again the brand stood out as a company who cares about the customer not simply as a customer, but as a possible friend who might enjoy the same things and want to shoot the breeze over a whiskey or a local microbrew.
Microbrew… yeah that reminds me! SevenFriday is a microbrand, by definition catering to or recognized in a small niche market. The only problem with this term is it is already beginning to change. With the advent of social media, you can now become widely known and recognized and still only cater to a small segment of a market. Many watch guys should now be aware of SevenFriday, and yet many still aren’t for the simple reason they do not partake in social media and frequent the places that companies like Rolex, AP, or Piaget target. There is nothing wrong with that, but there are more people out there than in country clubs or private boxes at the horseraces. Again, nothing wrong with these places, I would love to join them, but I have a lot of other interests as well. Hublot is a famous example in the industry of a company breaking from tradition and going to where the people are, even before social media took hold. Social media allows people from all over the world to share in interests without having to go to a club or event, instead you discuss with people you know. You can have followers on Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Tumblr, and Facebook and combined Watch Anish and SevenFriday have around 200,000 followers from every corner of the world. That is a lot of reach when you post a picture of a cool guy wearing your product.
This is why I love the “marketing” style of Watch Anish and the honesty of SevenFriday, because they are building a worldwide community around the love of cool things. There is no better way to sell yourself than simply to not and let people like you for what you are. No BS, no big claims, and no false promises. There are many other microbrands going this route too. The big thing that is tough for larger brands to swallow is the lack of control and the need for transparency. Daniel talked about this in regards to the fact that there is a SevenFriday Instagram and Twitter account for different cities or countries all over the world that he has no control over, and it allows those people who run them to feel they are a part of the brand. Also with the internet, it can spread pretty quickly that you said “X” about the people at “Y” and now everyone kind of hates you. The same is true about marketing, and a little fib to make your product sound a little better than it is can hurt a lot in the Facebook era.
Some people have complained about SevenFriday saying that they claim to be Swiss made and yet they use a Japanese movement and the products are assembled outside of Switzerland. Well I have a news flash for you, not one person involved with SevenFriday ever claimed they were Swiss made. Sorry, you might have heard it, but it wasn’t true. They are conceived and designed in Switzerland (Zurich)with the help of Studio Divine based in Biel, and manufactured using cost effective sources in China, Japan, and elsewhere. What they do claim is that their watch is quality made (which I and almost every person who has actually bought one will defend), it is available at a great price, and it sports a design unlike anything even remotely comparable in the market. All of these things are absolutely true and I applaud them for that.
That is the other reason they are making such a splash in the industry, quality products at good prices (but not cheap) and complete transparency about where it comes from. Many microbrands do the same thing, because in today’s internet, it is very easy to discover that your movement or case isn’t what the brand claimed. As long as you stand behind your product and tell people what they are buying, most are very happy to pay for a great watch. Swiss made doesn’t even mean what it used to, and with a new law recently passed, Swiss made will now change its meaning once again. A fact some people don’t want to talk about is that some major brands outsource their cases, dials, or hands anyway to China or elsewhere, at least the steel or titanium cases. That is also a reason you can buy decent quality Chinese replicas or Chinese brands, because they are the ones making Swiss quality stuff in a lot of cases (no pun intended). If you want to buy Swiss, or German, that is fine. For me, I want to buy a great product at a great price from great people. And the people couldn’t be better.
I urge you to take a look at and follow SevenFriday and Watch Anish if you don’t already. They do great work and stand behind everything they do. I also urge you to look at other microbrands and find out more about them before dismissing them. Many are good people trying to make great products in an era where manufacturing is possible on much smaller scales than ever before and it allows for ever increasing variety. I myself am very happy that the industry is growing in this way. First and foremost it is revitalizing peoples love for machines and style, something that I live my life by. History and heritage are amazing, and many Swiss brands deserve their rightful place at the top, but that doesn’t mean someone should make their own history and create a new heritage. There is always room for the visionaries, and I am glad to know them.
Sevenfriday Zürich (sevenfriday) on Pinterest
SEVENFRIDAY on Instagram
WATCH ANISH on Instagram
The photos are not mine but used with permission of Watch Anish or found freely on the interwebs.
Come back next week when I get back to my quirky style of reviewing the machines that blow my horological mind!
Have an awesomely great week & DFTBA!
Cheers & Happy Watching,