Launching a fashion brand is hard. Launching a watch brand is even harder. In 2020 the team behind Avail Watches decided it was the right time to launch their new watch brand. Looking to bring stylish watches at fair prices to the market the brand are certainly remaining strong 2 years on. This month we sat down with the team to discuss where the idea to launch a watch brand came from and where they hope to take it.
For those reading this that haven't heard of AVAIL Watches, can you tell us a little more about your brand?
Sure. We launched in the summer of 2020 and we are an independent men’s watch brand based in the UK. We feel strongly that well-made, handsome watches needn’t cost the earth. As you’ll know, typical industry margins are usually high but we are passionate about fair pricing and making our watches accessible to most. We rely on our integrated and agile supply chain & progressive business model to enable us to offer our timepieces at incredibly competitive price points without compromising on quality or design – both of which are critical to us, our brand and our customers.
When deciding to launch AVAIL Watches, what was your motivation? What did you want AVAIL Watches to be? It all started really from a belief that watches are not just timekeepers, but that they accompany us as we make our way through life. Watches play a part in our day to day and a part in our out of the ordinary days. They keep us on course as we go about doing whatever it is that our personal and professional lives call us to do. We have all looked at our watch seconds before, or minutes after some of the biggest moments in our lives. We have all put our watches on with purpose before a big day ahead or removed them at night after a momentous one. To us, watches play an important role as we avail of all that life has to offer – (hence the name!).
So we took our inspiration from this to create thoughtfully designed, carefully sourced, timeless, yet sleek & modern premium watches, and all at really fair price points. Our hope was that our customers would choose our brand to accompany them through the next most important phases of their lives. We created two tiers of watches (the Collection Range and more premium Signature Range) so that our watches are accessible to most – no matter where our customers might be on their journey.
Let's talk a little about the designs, how do you start to design a new collection? Rather unusually perhaps, we start from the colour scheme and work from there. You will see from the naming conventions of our models that we pair colours; an example would be Grey in Black – meaning a grey dial with a black strap. Although we know that the dial is unquestionably the star of the show, and what customers look at most closely, we feel that customers start their search with a certain dial and strap colour combination in mind. For this reason, we match our colour combinations really carefully and we only offer a select amount of straps with each model, making sure they sit perfectly together. Once we have the dial colour sorted, we then spend a long time (probably much too long!) finessing the detail. We obsess over the index, width of the hands and spacing between the dial elements and making sure the dial looks as handsome as possible. Its definitely the best part of the design process and seeing it come to life is even better.
The watch market is huge, from the brands perspective what makes AVAIL Watches different from all the other brands out there?
We truly believe that it is value for money that sets us apart. We offer our timepieces at very fair prices and significantly below typical industry margins. Your readers will know that there are many independent and even global brands that claim to have a similar ethos, however, retail prices remain high. We’re really transparent about our products and the quality materials that we use and our prices speak for themselves.
We forgo typical industry margins and hope that by offering our customers good workmanship, quality materials and on-trend watches, all at plainly fair prices, we will retain our customers' loyalty for many years. Our reviews show that customers really value being able to buy quality, premium, modern watches at affordable prices – receiving good value for money and honesty from our brand. So we hope this is enough to be heard above some of the other major brands.
At AVAIL you claim to offer 'luxury watches at fair prices', why is this something important you strive for?
We just want to prove that good watches do not need to cost the earth. The profit margins that global watch brands make are often excessive (in our view!) and we feel that there is a space in the market for really nice watches, made with care and with quality materials, that have sensible price points. We will never compete on luxury with Rolex, Tag or Patek Philippe but we give many of the other big names a run for their money on quality and of course on price.
What do you believe customers are looking for when shopping for a watch?
We would say that there are two key drivers for customers looking for a new watch; style and quality. A watch can say a lot about a person, it can reflect their personality and lifestyle and ultimately consumers want something that they love the look of on their wrist. Quality is also hugely important; consumers want a watch to be made from excellent materials that will last the test of time with them.
What would you say are the 3 most important things to AVAIL watches? And do you believe these beliefs are shown through the brand?
Stand out style
We think that our materials speak for themselves and are on par, or better, than a vast majority of household watch brand names – the top end of our Signature Range (our Chronograph being a great example) use materials (sophisticated Japanese chronograph movement, luminous hands, top grade stainless steel, luxury leather strap) that you would ordinarily find on a £200+ watch, carrying a big brand name. Our RRP for the Chronograph is £85. As for style, this is of course personal choice but our Kiros and Gunmetal (in our view) are just two watches from our range which we think stand out in a very crowded market. Why do you believe the watch has stood the test of time? Why is wearing a watch today still as popular as it's ever been? Where do we start. You just can’t beat the feeling of wearing a nice watch can you? There is so much going for the traditional watch (over say a smart watch or just using your mobile to tell the time). Your watch is an accessory to your wardrobe – often the piece to complete a look. You’ll often receive a watch as a gift on a special occasion or buy one to wear for a big occasion. Its also a really personal choice as to which watch you wear, what style, what functions you need and which brand you choose to wear on your wrist. And of course, here at AVAIL we see watches as more than just time keepers, we see them as our companions as we take on all that life has to throw at us – so we believe we all develop a sentimental attachment to our watches – something you just can’t replicate with a digital device.
Why AVAIL? What was behind your decision to name the brand AVAIL and how does the word itself resonate with the brand's values? As mentioned earlier, it was born from a feeling around the importance of our watches to us and how they are more than just timekeepers, how they act as our ‘companions’ as we take on life. We feel that we should all move forward in life, that we should avail ourselves of all of the opportunities that life presents and that our watch is a big part of this. Think back to the most recent major moment in your life; bet you looked at your watch many times before, during or after the event and we bet that watch will most likely be with you again when you make your next big move in life.
What's your ultimate goal with AVAIL? The watch market is of course very crowded and it can be hard to be heard above the noise of the big brands with significant marketing budgets and brand reach. So we are taking a step-by-step approach and look for every opportunity to show people what we can do, grow the brand and continue to always deliver on our promise of fair pricing.
We’re delighted with the start we have made since we launched. We’ve had three successful Kickstarter campaigns, secured listings in multiple retailers, been featured in GQ and Esquire magazines (and now Hinton), attracted a significant social media following (30k Instagram following at the time of writing), rated 5* Excellent on Trustpilot and spotted on the wrists of some well-known celebs. But the journey is far from over and our next step is to drive brand awareness and let people see for themselves the quality that we offer for the price points that we set.
Our ultimate goal though is to drive a high enough rate of sale that we can push the boundaries of our philosophy even further and reduce our RRP across our range even more; we want to really disrupt (and maybe even change) the watch market. We want the AVAIL name to become synonymous with quality for reasonable prices and be the ‘go to’ brand for good looking, on trend, well-made watches at prices people can afford.
Is there anything you can tell us about new collections that are coming out? Yes sure. We are really excited to have finished the design process and about to start production of the new Kiros – White in Vintage Black. We currently offer a Kiros – Grey in Vintage Brown which is far and away our best seller. It’s a gorgeous watch with a really handsome dial and the strap is epic. So we have now played with the design a little, combining a white dial with a vintage black strap and it will look fantastic - we hope you’ll agree. It will launch in March/April this year and we can’t wait for everyone to see it.
You can shop the full collection from Avail Watches over at www.availwatches.co.uk