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Atelier Wen: The New Chinese Chic - Quality Mechanical Watches - Official Affiliate Thread

Discussion in 'Classic Menswear' started by Fandegrue, Jul 25, 2018.

  1. Fandegrue

    Fandegrue Active Member Affiliate Vendor

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    Thank you for your message and feedbacks! I am really glad that you like the concept, and that you share with us the vision that we have for the brand; our objective is genuinely to somehow show the Western world that you can have an openly Chinese yet high-quality product.

    Regarding having crocodile straps, we thought about it quite a bit, and, basically, there are two options around there. The first one would be to go with a fairly cheap crocodile skin, and this would affect our watch price only marginally. Yet, in all fairness, the quality would be crap. The second option is to go for the proper thing, but this would lead, then, to quite a sizeable increase in our manufacturing costs (around $100). I believe that, despite the fact that perceptions towards Chinese products are improving, still, for an absolutely new brand with no track record whatsoever, $500 is somehow the threshold at which we can pre-sell our watches. Above that, I guess we would lose some of our attractiveness, and also “forfeit” a fair chunk of the potential customers who would have bought our watch on a whim (non-wis crowd). What we are thinking of doing, nevertheless, insofar as the MOQ for the very nice croc straps are fairly low, is to offer the opportunity to have one as an add-on, and we would do so at cost price (meaning we have no margins on that). The colour would be a fairly classic one; cognac or black.


    I really, really like the idea of having a suede strap, and now we will, fairly certainly, be offering at least two. Favourite colours thus far are grey, navy blue and brown à la Moser. A question for you guys: do you prefer them with minimal stitches or with more “regular” ones? Here are one picture to illustrate:

    [​IMG]

    The good thing with straps is that they are quite likely the easiest and least troublesome pieces to manufacture, hence there is an opportunity to try and play around, which is quite fun! We have a folder of straps which inspire us a lot; here is a selection of them. You will notice that it includes some Shell Cordovan ones; this is something, as well, that is being considered.

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    Oh, I still haven’t explained why there is, as the default strap, a calf leather one with crocodile scale pattern. The reason is fairly simple. As outlined above, it is not possible to have a genuine crocodile strap straight from the beginning, mainly for cost reasons. Suede straps are really, really cool, and I love their young and playful vibe. Yet, for some people who’d rather have something more formal, this is not adequate. So, again, I can’t have them as the default ones. Hence, the only thing we have left now are more “regular” kinds of straps. It’s purely personal tastes, but if I am to have a calf strap, I prefer to have one with crocodile scale pattern rather than “simply” the leather coloured without any further “decoration”. But our straps are of a very decent standard; they are made of vegetable-tanned top grain leather. Here is a picture:

    [​IMG]


    Today, the big news that I want to share with you all, is that I finally have some good pictures of the prototypes! During the 13-hour-long shooting, they were unassembled and re-assembled (a watchmaker was with us for the whole of the day) a few times, hence they were quite extensively “handled”, and I will thus ask you not to mind shall you see any tiny finger mark or speck of dust. The pictures are now being post-processed to correct these minuscule issues and be commercially-usable, therefore the ones that I am showing you today are “raw” and come straight from the shooting. They did not undergo any improvement, correction, software-based-enhancement… Nothing. That being said, these are still some nice pics. One of the straps had some cosmetic defaults, but this is being taken care of as of now.

    I will start with the blue model. The dial tends to show very different shades of blue based on the luminosity and exposition; the “range” is quite wide. The first picture is the one that is the most representative of the appearance it has most of the time. The other pictures show you the watch under different expositions and light settings, allowing you to witness the evolution of the shades of blue.

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    Let’s now have a look at the white one. The first picture is, once again, the one that is the most representative of the dial’s appearance most of the time. The second one has been voluntarily over-exposed in order to showcase the very blue tint that the hands can display (because they are (genuinely) heat-blued, their shade of blue also tends to vary a lot). On the last picture, there is a light over-exposure, but it is much less substantial than the one of the previous picture.

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    I’m very happy and pleased to see the prototypes. After a year and a half of work, juggling with studies (we’re both 23, and we were both finishing our postgrad this year), often calling at 2 or 3AM because, between Beijing and London, that’s (frequently) the only slot which works, dealing with our respective parents who are a fairly worried that we’re not heading towards strat consulting or IB like most of our peers… It’s very hard to find the adequate wording to express how I feel, but is a more-than-positive sentiment.

    I hope that you will like them :)

    Robin.
     

  2. RogerP

    RogerP Distinguished Member

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    Forgive the daft question, but what is the difference between porcelain and enamel - or are they different names for the same process?
     

  3. Riva

    Riva Distinguished Member

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    Love the prototype pics! Heat blued, ceramic, 100% unapologetically asian inside out. I take a white one. When can we order? Thanks.
     

  4. Riva

    Riva Distinguished Member

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    Porcelain dial is basically a real flat thin disc of porcelain that's painted on top.

    Frederique_Constant_2016_Classics_Art_of_Porcelain_2.jpg

    Enamel is very different:

    https://blog.perpetuelle.com/editor...-of-cloisonne-grand-feu-and-champleve-enamel/

    PS: porcelain dialed watches are rarer due to the difficulty in making them thin enough and since most of them are handpainted. Enamel is just melting glass over metal base.
     
    Last edited: Aug 15, 2018

  5. Riva

    Riva Distinguished Member

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    Regarding the straps, if you can ship them with the pictured navy / indigo shell with notch stitchings I think you should do it.
     

  6. MrZBrown

    MrZBrown Active Member

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    So here is some feedback. First please take it as constructive criticism, because I want one of your watches. Watches are my thing. I've had many croc straps and stamped straps. I would say that having high quality leather straps (shell cordovan or calf or veg tanned) is better than having stamped strap. Here is what I will say. When you have a crocodile strap and you wear it for a long time you notice that the edges on the pattern get softer but its unmistakeably crocodile. When you have a stamped strap, over time the stamping fades and it goes back to a standard leather. In my opinion it looks very cheap. I get the reason why you don't want to go full croc, I just personally would prefer either to go real crocodile or go with a great leather. The stamping looks bad after a year or so.

    also to your question above, I much prefer minimal stitching on suede. I like the full length stitch on high quality leather, especially if adding any padding.
     

  7. CanadaCal

    CanadaCal Distinguished Member

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    Ive got to say. I keep coming back to this thread. I love the way you indepthly update with proper pictures. I’m tempted to get in.

    And I concur on the whole strap discussion.

    Just me opinion but I would offer the following:

    Standard high grade calf or horsehide in 2-3 basic colours. Suede at the same entry price point.

    Shell cordovan in 3-5 colours. As an upgrade or stretch goal reward? Not even sure how Kickstarter options go.

    And do yourself a favour, buy Horween. It’s a serious brand name recognition people will want. Not that other shell isn’t good, but it’s the gold standard and if you want this to be a success I’d table the first iteration of your shell straps to be the best. Many merchants have this in stock. Especially for strap requirements/sizes. And I don’t think the premium over something like skiniki is that much. I could be wrong.

    Crocodile is delicious, but only authentic full monty. If procurement or price is an issue, forego it altogether. I’m sure buyers can find a quality strap from the previously mentioned choices.

    What about stingray?
     

  8. am55

    am55 Distinguished Member

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    +1 on avoiding fake croc. It's fake, which will weigh on people's minds (I'm sure you will state that it's stamped, and not quietly avoid mentioning it). I've taken all the ones that have come with my watches off and replaced them with real croc or leather. I'm also not sure about the link with China - crocs are Aussie, gators are American...

    The problem with real croc is CITES which will make life difficult for US customers. Unless you source from approved suppliers and your cost just shot up by a factor of 5.

    Plain leather of a high quality from premium skins is very nice, because it will over time take a deep patina and nothing will be there to distract you from the leather quality. There's other less controversial and cheaper but nice exotic skins if you want texture and wabi sabi in your strap...

    Sorry for only responding to this now, but I'd just say beware of taking FAM advice/opinions too literally - the French WIS are different in their tastes and particularly budget from other international markets. I can only speak for myself, but would have preferred a slimmer movement with such nice dials...
     

  9. MrZBrown

    MrZBrown Active Member

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    To echo Riva, when can we order one?

    Agreed with that. I would ask @Fandegrue, where do you see your primary market for this watch? Europe? USA? Asia? Each has very different opinions on watches. Sizing is different, certain products sell different in each market. While I DO think you set yourself up with a very nice middle of the road watch to start as you begin to market yourself, you need to decide where you expect to make a mark first and work within their parameters.

    Do you have a designation for your movement? Also what is your next project? Chrono? Diver?
     

  10. dnugget

    dnugget Member

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    First of all, welcome to SF! Beautiful designs, and love the background and story behind the brand and product in development. Love a lot of the choices (39mm size, case-back, and travel pouch packaging) and the transparency, and wish you the best of luck on this endeavor. I definitely will be thinking about getting in on this and am excited on your future designs as well!

    Not to detract from your own personal design ideas (and caution you from taking into account all of our suggestions), but I do have to say I agree with the rest of the posters thus far on the straps. As a proud Chinese brand looking to market to western consumers as something other than a "low-cost, value" brand, I don't think fake croc is the way to go. Although high quality embossed croco-calf can still look quite handsome, I would much prefer a nice calf strap and think it would be a better choice in attracting the typical WIS.

    I agree with this - perhaps a brown or black calf strap, as well as a gray or navy suede strap as a standard option (the Hodinkee straps look quite nice). As an upgrade or stretch goal, a navy shell (agree with Horween being the way to go here) strap as well. Don't think too many options for straps is as important here (as it may detract from streamlined production).

    On the topic of straps, I'm not a huge fan of the blue stitching, but love the detailed pictures provided so far. I do prefer lined straps with full, "traditional" stitching as opposed to minimal stitching, even on shell cordovan straps, but also am OK with notch stitching on shell cordovan straps.

    Any pictures or sketches of the proprietary buckles? Looks like you are going with the tang buckle from the pictures so far.
     

  11. WilYa

    WilYa Senior Member

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    +1 no fake crocs! I am picturing myself getting a navy cordovan strap for both models.
     

  12. clee1982

    clee1982 Stylish Dinosaur

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    Side question do you guys find Horween that much better or just way better names, I have horween and Japanese cordovan (belt), Canali honest say I feel a lot difference
     

  13. dnugget

    dnugget Member

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    Note: Navy calf would also be pretty nice, but would much prefer navy shell over navy calf in nearly every case.

    I honestly recommended it for the name - I think it helps market the "East meets West" concept of Atelier Wen and would attract more consumers.

    By no means am I an expert, but I think I prefer Horween. Granted, shoemakers do finish their shoes differently and outside of Horween, I've only handled Clayton (British), Comipel (Italian) and Shinki (Japanese). But I find Horween tends to feel softer, have more depth of color, and have cleaner rolls (less microcreasing). With that said, all are good options, and I do like the Shinki quite a bit.
     

  14. Riva

    Riva Distinguished Member

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    I think at this price point Horween is too much. But they should go Nomos' route and contact Flico maybe they'll get a good deal on Horween.

    Galuchat is stiff and hard unless they go true custom and the edging is usually prone to cracking.
     

  15. Riva

    Riva Distinguished Member

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    Horween is only famous for their irreplaceable no 8. Other than that I prefer the italian tanner resellers use as there are more exciting colors.
     

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