29 October 2014

Lavotre lets you design your own watch

Source: Lavotre. Bently
Anchor, an original design
from Lavotre.
Sourcing for a unique corporate gift? Try customised watches.

"It was curiosity about how it feels like to make your own watch which led us to where we are today. We thought that was exactly the market was lacking at that time – the ability to personalise your own watches. There are some companies doing it out there, but they do so with a minimum order requirement, or they offer 'couple' watches whose designs lacked the special touch that we were looking for," said Eugene Chow, Brand Manager, Lavotre, who runs the business with his business partner Cheryl Tan, head of sales and operations

"We also realised that many people want to make their own watches but do not know how to get started. We offered to help them with the design and basically translating their ideas into reality."

In January this year, Lavotre was established, focusing solely on originally designed, limited edition watches for sale together with a bespoke watch service. "We're unique in our ability to customise your watch face, from the background to the colour, without a minimum order. We pretty much accept all images from photographs to sketches and graphics. It used to be simple graphics designs, but now we have tied up with some illustrators to help our clients with their drawings," Chow said.

The Brynn
The sky is the limit for designs. One customer wanted her teacher's calligraphy as a watch face, and Lavotre replicated the art, for example, Chow said. "All our designs are done in Singapore and our approach is simple, elegant and fun. We also work with various local illustrators to showcase the local flavour/culture – the most prominent being Lee XinLi’s Nonya Kueh* art series. Other than established illustrators, we also do work with students by giving them a platform to launch their ideas and work," he said.

While Lavotre leaves it to customers to decide, they can also recommend designs. For example, Chow recommends Brynn Black for ladies and Bently Anchor for men as watches which are perfect for transitioning from day to night.

Lavotre is careful to limit the number of watches per design however, so not many people will be able to buy a particular design. "Once we hit the pre-set quota, we'll retire the design – we don’t want to walk down Orchard Road to see someone else wearing the same watch."

The collaboration with local illustrator Lee Xinli occurred in July, two months after the company officially registered as a business. In August, Lavotre started selling watch straps and an on-the-spot service to swop straps. Last month, the company launched its own online platform on the Zalora Marketplace, and this month it has two new offerings: a fast-tracked option for watch production, from two weeks to about five days, and gift vouchers.

"All in all, we have grown from a 'blogshop' business model, into carving our own brand name and style. Much of our changes and implementations are due in part to feedback from the ground and support from customers out there. We are always in the process of active listening as we strive to streamline our operations to make it easier for people to find us," Chow said.

Lavotre's watches are 30m water resistant, suitable for handwashing and light dives. They are not recommended for sports however because the straps are usually leather. "Sweat and leather don’t mix well in the long run," Chow explained. 

What's next for Lavotre? The company is planning a fresh look for its website and to make it easier for people to find out how to create their own watches. There will be a giveaway and a hefty discount, as well as Christmas-themed watches, Chow said.

Those looking to own a Lavotre watch, who want to create their own or who are thinking of a partnership opportunity can follow the company on Facebook at www.facebook.com/shoplavotre to find out about their next event (cash only), or email the company at asklavotre@gmail.com. Lavotre can send a quotation for a corporate order through email, and accepts payments through major credit cards and Internet banking, Chow said. All watches come with a drawstring pouch and optional gift tag. 

*Nonya kueh refers to cakes made to a Peranakan recipe. The Peranakans are Chinese emigrants to parts of Southeast Asia from the 15th to the 17th centuries. More about Peranakan culture can be found in Wikipedia here.