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