Interview With Nicholas Han, Co-founder Of Schaffen Watches

Schaffen Watches founders

Brothers Jonathan Han (left) and Nicholas (right) who run Schaffen Watches. (Image credit: The Business Times © Singapore Press Holdings Limited)

1) The whole idea for this business, Schaffen Watches, started when your brother, Jonathan, customised and gifted a watch to your father for his 50th birthday. When did you two decide that making customised watches for others is a viable business, and who became your very first paying customers?

The decision came very organically, with friends and family coming to us requesting custom-made timepieces after they saw my dad wearing his. Before long, my alma mater, Singapore Management University, approached us for a set of personalised timepieces for an executive masters programme. Subsequently, as word spread, the Air Force also commissioned us to make timepieces for retiring colonels. That was very exciting for us and was probably the turning point which convinced us of a viable market.

2) Besides the Swiss customer who wanted ‘King of Cool’ inscribed on his watch dial, what other unusual or interesting requests has Schaffen Watches received from clients, and have you ever had to turn down any request?

We are often very happy to work with customers on unique requests, where customers shared their artwork for us to incorporate into the watch.

Schaffen customised watch

Schaffen personalised watch

Other interesting requests include a customer who approached us with a piece of wood that he highly valued. He wanted to incorporate the wood into the watch components and we are still in the midst of that project. One request which we had to turn down unfortunately was a lady who approached us 6 months ago asking for Swarovski crystals to be put into the watch. As a new company, we didn’t have the capabilities back then but as we grow in scale, we are also building a network of local jewellers and designers. We look forward to tackling more interesting requests in the future!

3) In many interviews, you’ve shared your belief that products which are made in Singapore can also be of outstanding quality. So why the name ‘Schaffen’ (which is the German word for ‘to create’) instead of something more Singaporean, maybe?

The word “Schaffen” came to us as an inspiration, because “Schaffen” means “to create”, as well as having the connotation of accomplishing something successfully. We gravitated to it because it represented our aspirations and passion as a company. At the same time, all our timepieces include “Schaffen Watches Singapore” engraved on the watch, as a testament to our origins.

4) Does running a watch business make you even more conscious about time and being punctual, if not early, when meeting people? Or has it been a habit all along?

I have never thought about it that way! My dad has always raised us to be punctual, though I must add that I often find myself rushing for meetings (: I think that besides being about time, watches carry an artistic angle, as well as intelligent engineering when it comes to different complications. Personally, running a watch business gave me a greater admiration for craftsmanship, art and product design, as well as an appreciation of the difficulty of starting a brand from ground up.

5) What’s the best advice you’ve received from your mentors / advisers with regard to Schaffen?

One of our most important mentors is Ashok Miranda, ex-Creative Director at Disney SEA. When we started the company, he taught us that a brand is about the founding story, the passion and the mission of the company, not simply about the product we are bringing to the market. Understanding and fine-tuning this allowed us to discover who we are as a company and that drove the emotional connection between us and our customers. It was further crucial in aligning everyone’s perspectives within the company, further directing all our communications with partners and customers.

6) What are some upcoming plans?

Following the exploration of unique timepieces, we are very excited to announce a collaboration with Philippine-based artist Kerby Rosanes! He is a New York Times bestselling illustrator, renowned for his unique style of combining geometry with animal illustrations.

Kerby Rosanes Schaffen Watches

Find out more about our collaboration at https://www.schaffenwatches.com/!

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~ WINNER ANNOUNCEMENT & DISCOUNT CODE ~

The winner of my Schaffen Watches giveaway is Doris Chin! Congratulations! I’ll be in touch soon with details on how to claim your prize! So check your FB / IG inbox later today. 🙂

Thank you all for participating! 😀 Because so many of you love Schaffen Watches, here’s a special discount code for you to use (“GRACETAN15“) for 15% discount off your purchase. Hurry over to Schaffen Watches’ website now and customise a watch for yourself and/or your loved ones! 😀

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Schaffen Watches Review: Empowering You To Create Your Own Personalised Timepiece

Schaffen Watches Singapore

Schaffen Watches is a homegrown brand that offers you the opportunity to customise your watch beyond simply engraving your name on it. “Schaffen” is German for the word “create” and you can certainly unleash your creativity in designing a watch that you’ll be proud to call your own. Some people choose to showcase their artwork, have their signature across the watch face or even indicate special dates on them (bonus: never forget an anniversary again). As for me, I chose to have my watch reflect not just the time, but what’s important in Life with specially selected quotes. (*Make sure you read till the end of this blogpost for a special giveaway you won’t want to miss!)

Every Schaffen watch is unique: it might have a Pegasus, or a signature, or be part of “couple watches”. You decide.

Schaffen

Head over to Schaffen’s website to try their Watch Builder – you can fully customise your watch in just 5 simple steps:

Schaffen Watch Builder

Start with the Dial and Caseback, then the Watch Face, Markers, Hands and Straps.

My personalised Schaffen watch has two quotes – a short one in front and a longer one on the caseback. I picked these two quotes because they are oft-repeated by two individuals I admire and respect. On the face of the watch is “Be Happy Always”, which is the phrase ‘Happiness Influencer’ Xandria Ooi from Malaysia, often ends her videos with. I love how these three words are such a useful reminder in this fast-paced society we live in.

Customised Schaffen Watch

When I look at the time and see that the person I’m meeting is late, I get a timely (hur hur) reminder to “Be Happy!” even when there are so many things which could potentially ruin my mood or day. I’m not sure if there’s a better reminder to have on the watch face, as hasn’t it been said that the ultimate aim in Life is to be happy? 🙂

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“For every minute you are angry you lose sixty seconds of happiness.” -Ralph Waldo Emerson

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On the back of the watch is another quote:

Schaffen Watch caseback

“To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield” is originally from the Ulysses by Lord Alfred Tennyson. It’s my pal, Steven Lek’s, favorite quote. I admire many things about Steven but none more than his dedication to lifelong learning and his unwavering loyalty to his friends. He also takes pride in delivering on his promises, even if he has to stay up all night in order to put together a blogpost that he’d said he would craft. And he’s 70. (He’s also one of my most senior blogging students) 😀

While this quote is on the back, which means few people will ever get to see it, it is a reminder to me each time I put on the watch that I should strive for what I believe in, and to not give up even when times are tough. And if there’s anything my 70-year-old pal can accomplish, I should be able to do too!

My one-of-a-kind watch:

Schaffen Watch Singapore

I chose not to have my name on the watch face, unlike so many other people, as I really don’t need a reminder regarding what my name is. Haha! But if you like your accessories personalized with your name, by all means, go ahead! 😀

And if you have any other ideas regarding what you want your watch to look like, get in touch with the Schaffen team. Perhaps you want the Pegasus on the watch face instead of on the back? Maybe an image of the Hogwarts Express – to remind you to look for the magical moments in each day? I, for one, would love to have the watch straps in other colors too. The blue is great, yes, and wouldn’t pink be lovely? 😀

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Schaffen Watches

The box that the watch comes in looks so artfully designed that you’ll certainly want to keep it as well. That said, you won’t have to store the watch within the box each time you’re not wearing it though, ‘cos Schaffen watches are very durable!

The watches are assembled in Singapore, using ‘quality components from Switzerland and Korea’ such as corrosion-resistant 316L stainless steel for the watch case, scratch-proof sapphire crystal, Swiss-made movements (with a 3-year warranty), and genuine full-grain leather sourced from Italy and Hong Kong.

The watches don’t come cheap, at $299 each, but I have only praise for the quality and workmanship. If it’s high time you get a new watch, you might want to customise one with the help of this Singaporean brand. 😉

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Watch out for the interview with one of Schaffen’s co-founders coming up real soon. 🙂

( GIVEAWAY )

WIN a Schaffen watch that YOU get to customise! 😀 Head on over to my Facebook page for the giveaway now! 🙂