It's been a full 12 months since we sat down with the team at Avail Watches and this February 2023 we wanted to catch up with them to see how the last 12 months have been, whats new for the brand and how the next 12 months look.
For those who haven't heard of your brand or seen your previous cover with us, could you tell us a little about your brand Avail Watches?
Sure. We launched in the summer of 2020 (time flies!); we are an independent watch brand based in the South of the England. The brand was born from a strong belief that well-made, handsome watches don’t need to cost the earth. As your readers will know, typical industry margins on wristwear are often very high but we are passionate about fair pricing and making our watches accessible to most. We rely on our integrated and agile supply chain and 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.
It has been exactly 12 months since Avail Watches was on the cover of Hinton Magazine, how have the last 12 months been for the brand?
Wow. Its been a ball, honestly. Like any new brand to market, although you believe passionately in what you represent and the quality of your offering, you can’t escape the fear that customers just won’t like it (and we launched just after lockdown which naturally meant a more difficult market entry), however, what has been so energising and exciting is that, particularly in the past 6-8 months, our ethos and philosophy have proven themselves to be authentic and customers are talking about us and what we stand for. The thing about watches is that you can’t really hide behind marketing puffery – they are either made using good quality materials or not and the price point is what it is – so we’ve watched with a lot of pride and excitement over the past 12 months as customer reviews, press and industry endorsements all verify our promise - that we offer really good watches at really fair prices.
Taking a moment to speak about the signature range. Where did the inspiration come from for this range?
This range is really what the brand is all about. Its our premium range but with a budget/ mid-range price tag. On these models we push the boundaries of our philosophy as far as we can by using quality materials (full stainless steel, genuine premium leather straps, Japan movements, sapphire glass) combined with solid build and aesthetics and we offer these timepieces at half, sometimes a third of what our competitors would offer similar spec models for. Our Collection Range (where prices start at £45) is another USP for us – we offer access to the brand for those who don’t want to spend north of £60 on a watch but who still want a decent watch that looks good – but our Signature Range is our core and personifies what we stand for.
Was it always the plan to offer smart, timeless pieces across the full range?
It was, but we have diversified and will continue to diversify over the next 12 months. Basically, like most fashion/ accessory brands, our founders started out by designing watches that they would wear. However, as we have grown and as our demographic widens organically through word of mouth, we know we need to cater for all tastes so that’s in the pipeline – in fact, we have already started by introducing the Cole (which is an athletic looking watch) and the Cargo (which has move of a diver watch feel). These have been really popular which is great.
When it comes to designing new products how do you make sure you are staying in trend?
We do a lot of consumer research before we embark on a new model. We are lucky that we have a great number of supporters who backed us during our crowdfunding stage and who offer us their networks for market research purposes. So we put every concept drawing and model ‘theme’ to a diverse group of people and take feedback and act on it. In addition, we work collaboratively with boutique fashion houses and local fashion curators to understand what colours are due to be popular in each season and we try to base our colour combinations (especially dial colour) to coordinate with that.
The watch market is such a saturated market how does Avail watches ensure they remain at the forefront of the market?
Good question. Still figuring it out to be totally honest. We knew this would be the single biggest challenge for us when we launched, without question. The ‘big players’ have marketing budgets in the millions as well as brand equity from their wider fashion lines and that’s really difficult to compete with. So our approach is more organic, it has to be. We rely on social media, reviews and word of mouth to grow, and although it makes for much more modest progress vs a national TV campaign or sponsorship deal, we’re delighted with the momentum we now have. Like I said above, customers who trust us love our watches (look, feel and quality), find the price points really fair (and often comment they would have paid much more!) and then they tell others about us. Social has also been a blessing and we’ve seen our followers and post interactions increase exponentially this year which has really helped us go toe to toe with the market leaders.
In your own words what makes Avail Watches different from the other brands that are out there?
It has to be the fact that we offer watches on par with the big fashion brands but at a fraction of the price. There are no catches or concessions, just really nice watches, made from really good materials sold at fair prices. I also (personally, but I would say this!) love what we stand for as a brand in terms of availing of the opportunities that life presents, going out and making things happen, reaching for your dreams and that we see our watches as playing a part in all of those things rather than just being a time keeper.
On your website you make it clear the service you provide is just as important in quality as the product is. Why do you believe this is?
when we launched, our founders wanted to take a different customer service approach to most brands/ online retailers for two reasons. Firstly, to set us apart from our competitors and help with organic growth but also because, as customers/consumers, our founders were often frustrated by faceless brands who offered bot chats or outsourced customer service centres – that feeling of needing some help but never being able to reach someone.
So we make sure we do two things, the first is pretty standard which is to get orders out without delay and on the wrists of customers within a few days and secondly, as soon as a customer places an order, we allocate that order to a customer service representative who makes contact with the customer and introduces themselves as their direct customer service contact. This means that if the customer has any questions or queries about their order, delivery or the watch when it arrives, including aftercare, they have a person to go to who responds within 24 hours.
Is there anything you can tell us about new designs or collections?
We’ve recently launched a new NATO range and quick release strap range which means that watches can easily be personalised to suit the customers’ day and these come in all forms of colours and patterns – what we are working on now is to develop tech on our site to allow customers to mix and match dials and straps and choose their perfect combo. We are also looking at extended our most popular model (The Kiros) to a third dial colour and we think we are going to put it out to a vote amongst our customers which should be cool.
What advice would you give to someone who's looking to launch their own brand?
Get a piece of paper and write one sentence that describes what you want to deliver, how and what you stand for. Then when you make decisions (which you will do 100 times a day!) look at it and stay true to it. For example, we have had a lot of feedback that our prices are too low and that this undervalues the brand and image – but we set out with a vision and to disrupt the market by offering great watches at fair prices and so hiking up the price isn’t true to who we are. I’m sure some customers do strictly equate price to quality and we may lose them, but our job is to convince them to give us a go and see for themselves how good our stuff really is and that there is no need to pay two or three times as much for the same thing!
How does 2023 look for Avail Watches?
Exciting, I hope. With our NATO/ quick release strap tech on the website, new Kiros model and (hopefully!) continued favourable reviews from customers, I am confident that we will continue to grow and continue to be a nuisance to the larger brands.
Thank you for your time.
My pleasure, its been great talking to you and sharing a bit about our brand with your readers. If they fancy checking out our social media its @availwatches or our website is www.availwatches.co.uk. They can reach me (Josh) at email@example.com