Drawing on his own experiences, Marho Bateren founded watch brand Bateren & Co to fill a niche in the market for automatic timepieces at accessible prices. Here, he explains what led him to the world of watches and how the brand’s Pacemaker 1 looks set to challenge the UK status quo…
Q. What can you tell us about the history of your company, it’s ethos and how it came about?
About seven years ago, I moved down to London from Liverpool for my first major corporate job. I had been transposed from living and working in a small city to the fast paced lifestyle associated with working for one of the world’s largest conglomerates. Naturally, I wanted to fit in.
I had this director who was the most dapper gentleman that I had met up until that point. He was so clean cut and well put together. I’ll never forget him talking to me about the importance of first impressions and how you could judge a man by his suit, shoes and of course, his watch!…and when it came to watches, only a quality automatic watch would do!
So, once I had gotten my first few pay cheques, I was adamant that I was going to look the part. I was able to pick up a couple of suits and a few pairs of shoes, but when it came to the watch, I just couldn’t find that quality automatic timepiece for a reasonable price. I thought to myself, surely someone should be offering this!
A few years later, I set up Bateren & Co, for this very purpose.
Q. What can you tell us about your products and what makes them unique or unusual for the UK market?
The vision behind our watches, although two-fold, is centred around a single premise; to be stronger than your average.
Firstly, the design of the watch. I wanted to build a watch that was physically stronger than other watches within its class. This meant only using the highest level of materials such as 316L surgical stainless steel and sapphire glass.
These types of materials tend to feature on watches that cost in excess of £1000. We chose to give it a diving depth of 300 meters, meaning that you could pretty much take the watch anywhere on earth and it would operate seamlessly. Lastly, we powered Pacemaker 1 with a precision automatic movement, eradicating the need for batteries. We worked hard to incorporate all of this at a very competitive price point.
Secondly, we wanted to impact the lives of others. I really believe that there aren’t enough role models in business, especially within certain demographics. It’s why we give a proportion of our profits to help mentor the next generation of business and social leaders. It’s what also inspired the name of the watch; Pacemaker 1.
Q. What made you decide to exhibit at IJL and what do you hope to achieve at the show? Are there any particular retailers that you would like to meet?
I spent some time visiting different watch shows and fairs, both in the UK and abroad. I spoke to a lot of exhibitors and everyone spoke very highly of IJL. They mainly talked about the fact that it is a trade only event, so you generally have a lot more opportunities to meet decision makers. For us, we are really looking to meet the buyers of mid-to-high-end watch, jewellery and gifting retailers; both here in Europe as well as abroad.
Q. What do you think are the main challenges of launching a watch brand in 2016/2017 and how are you trying to overcome these challenges?
The watch market is so saturated. Not only that, but fashion brands are really doing well at the moment. I have absolutely nothing against them, however consumers buy into them for their brand equity, as opposed to quality or craftsmanship.
As a watchmaker who wants to offer quality as a selling point, I have to find ways to market these attributes to the consumer in a way that grabs their attention. I truly believe that once a consumer understands what the Pacemaker 1 can do, especially in comparison to other watches at its price point, they become an advocate of the watch. I’ve seen it happen time and time again.
It’s why we call it a ‘battery-less’ watch or say that the Pacemaker 1 is ‘powered by your movement’ as opposed to calling it an automatic watch. Its why we say that the Pacemaker 1 can ‘withstand the pressure of a shark bite’ as opposed to just a 300 metre diving depth.
At our price point, we have to talk the language of the consumer. We also need to talk to them where they are. We use Instagram to communicate and market to our potential target market. I’m glad to say that in about half a year, we have managed to attract +3,700 100% organic Instagram followers which in turned have landed us with features in GQ magazine.
Q. What are your goals for your brand and where would you like to see it in five years time?
We are super excited for what the future holds. At the moment we are really pushing the Pacemaker 1, our debut watch. We have been overwhelmed by the response we have received from the public. We are also looking into new variations of the Pacemaker 1, including strap and face variations and even a smaller version for ladies.
In the next five years, we would love to have a more expansive range of affordable automatic watches and be developing our then established relationships with mid to high end retailers, both here in Europe and across the world.
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