Innovative Dutch watch makers, WoodWatch, discuss the inspiration, development and challenges behind the evolution of their brand.
What initially inspired you to create WoodWatch?
Back in 2013 the three of us, Jeroen, Kevin and Daniel, were first year students together at University. We discussed new, innovative and sustainable products with each other a lot. We were inspired by handmade, mostly wooden, products that we had seen around the world while travelling and concluded that wood was a great base material for making unique products. At some point we asked ourselves, why are watches not being made from wood? We concluded, if others are not doing it, then we will.
Why did you choose wood to be the main material from which to make your watch?
For decades, metal was the go-to material to use for making watches. However, we really wanted to do something different. So we started talking about different materials and then discovered the versatility of wood. We saw how a lot of different products are being made out of wood, and thought why not watches? Wood, being a product of nature, has unique characteristics in both colour and grain. This makes each watch one of a kind with its own grain pattern and colour shades.
Have you experienced any challenges in the development of your brand, and if so, how did you overcome them?
We started WoodWatch five years ago. At the time, we were doing something new and different. It was very exciting but incredibly complicated and we quickly learnt from our mistakes, seeing them as an opportunity to improve and develop. We teamed up with experts in woodworking and watchmaking to make our first watches. However, we still had quite a bit of trouble with the first watches we made. We started out right away with very high standards; the quality was of the upmost importance. It took us a while to really figure out how we could make all of the watches live up to those standards, whilst still producing the volume we needed. We already had a queue of customers who could not wait to get their hands on one, so there was definitely a positive pressure that came from this. Now having made many wooden watch designs and produced so many watches, we know exactly which wood types are the best fit for making a watch. Meanwhile, we keep innovating with new movements, wood types and designs. As we started WoodWatch when we were all still at university, it was sometimes hard to combine with our studies (and our grades might have suffered a bit from it), but we managed to graduate and gradually grow WoodWatch into an international watch brand. It is now one of the fastest growing companies in the Netherlands.
What are the positives and, if any, negatives of using wood as your main material?
Creating products made from wood has a significant environmental advantage over comparable materials. The carbon emission, effect on water quality and environmental impact are examples where wood outperforms a material like steel. The energy needed for creating wooden shapes is way lower than that of the same shape in steel. This means that making a WoodWatch is less energy intensive than making a similar sized watch from metal. The negative aspect is that you need a lot more expertise to figure out how to make a wooden watch. As well as being a watchmaker, you need a lot of expertise in woodwork.
How do you ensure your brand remains sustainable?
We work with two organisations to plant trees all over the world. With ‘Trees for the Future’ we plant one tree for every watch sold. With ‘Trees for All’ we make all of our parcel deliveries within Europe CO2 neutral and we give customers the option to donate an extra tree for 5 euros. Ever since starting WoodWatch, we have donated tens of thousands of trees in Senegal, Cameroon, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, the Philippines and Bolivia.
What is the name of your latest collection and what made you decide upon this particular style of watch?
Just over two weeks ago we released our Automatic Collection. The collection features three Limited Edition watches; only 100 pieces have been made of each. Each watch is engraved with its own unique number, and they all feature a 21 jewel self-winding automatic movement with a 36 hour power reserve. This is a very exciting collection for us, since we have been thinking about making automatic watches for years, and now we finally have. These are really our most advanced watches yet.
Apart from watches are there any other products you have created?
Our main focus will always be our first love: watches. We also create accessories such as cardholders, bracelets and cases for your iPhone and MacBook, all using wood as the main material. We started focusing on these products last year, in order to give the customer a chance to be fully accessorised with products that they know are sustainable and of high quality. Also, they make for a great combination with your WoodWatch.
What are your future plans for WoodWatch?
We are constantly working on new designs for watches. Currently, we are experimenting a lot with watch movements and have some great new things coming. We are also working on a stronger positioning of our brand in Europe and are expanding to countries outside of Europe.