This is an interview written by me, the founder, but the questions are actual questions from different people I`ve met. Let me start by introducing myself;
My name is Rune Drange, and I'm a 39 year old guy from the small town of Kristiansand in Norway. I`ve been working in the watch industry for about 5 years now. I have a wide background from different industries, but that`s for another conversation. Now we`re here for the watches.
What drives me isn`t just the passion for watches itself. It`s everything involving the process of building a brand. I have a constant thirst for learning new things. And designing watches has been a creative outlet for me for a long time. Verdandi is the second brand I've launched and I have about 5 more designs I'm working on. Verdandi is however my main focus at the moment.
Are you a watchmaker?
No, I wouldn`t define myself as a watchmaker, even though it`s an unprotected title. I think it should be. Some of the watchmakers I`ve met has such an in depth knowledge about watchmaking that it blows my mind. I would rather define myself as a watch designer and a brand creator.
I do have some training though. It was actually pretty random. My former neighbor got married a few years back and as it turns out her new father in law is a retired watchmaker. He`s well respected in the watch community and has a tremendous knowledge about watchmaking. His name is Alf Abrahamsen.
So I got his number and I called him. You`d be surprised how helpful people can be if you just ask them. Alf has been in my home several times passing on some of his watchmaking skills and knowledge.
You can`t just start your own watch brand, can you?
Of course you can! You just have to do it.
Ok, it`s not that straight forward. You have to be willing to put in the time and effort, and you have to be willing to take some risks. Both personally and financially.
When I started from scratch, I just figured out where the worlds largest watch fair was. Learned a couple of polite phrases in Cantonese and packed my bag. Next up was the Hong Kong Watch and clock fair.
In the picture above you`ll see the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre. This is a great place to start if you want to start your own brand. But make sure you have a few days to spare. The yearly watch exhibition is insanely huge. It goes over several floors and it`s packed with everything imaginable when it comes to watches. Everything from huge machinery to small components, movements, dials, hands, cases, complete watches and so on... Anything your looking for, you'll find it here. If you`re reading this, and is actually considering attending the next watch fair, then send me an email. I`d be happy to show you some of the hidden spots in Hong Kong. This city truly never sleeps...
Where do you produce your watches?
When attending the watch fair in HK I learned a lot. I learned that Shenzhen, which is just 15 minutes away from HK using a speed train, is the Mecca of watchmaking. There are over 3000 individual watch factories in the area. And I'll let you in on a little secret; Most Swiss Made watches are actually made here. At least the parts are before they are shipped to Switzerland for assembly.
When working with factories in Shenzhen you can get all types of quality, from bad to the absolute best. Choosing what factories to work with is crucial for the end result of your brand. And there is one more thing that can`t be stressed enough; You have to travel to the factories yourself and establish a good contact with the factory owners, and the people working on the factories. This is how you make sure that you get the best quality products available.
So when it comes to production I get the case and the sapphire glass made in Shenzhen, and the solar powered movement is made by Epson in Japan. Everything is then shipped to Norway for final testing and quality control. I have yet to visit the Epson factory but it`s on my list for things to do when Covid is over. For now I've just met the Epson representatives at the Watch fair in Hong Kong.
In the picture above you`ll see the "small" industrial town of Shenzhen. This is an amazing city that's been growing rapidly over the last 30 years. There's about 12,5 million people living here now and it`s still growing fast. In 1991 there were only 1,1 million people living here. And for those wondering, Yes, there is a huge nightclub in the top floors of the tallest building. First time I was there I met this Russian DJ that showed me around in Shenzhen, but that's also a story for another time.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
I have many partial goals when doing what I do. I know that I sometimes refer to "We" "Us" "Our" when talking about my brand. When I do that, I'm talking about everyone I'm collaborating with and everyone that helps me out now and then. Because as of now, this is basically a one man operation.
One of my first goals is to create local jobs. It`ll be a proud moment for me when I can afford to hire someone full time to keep developing the brand.
And in 10 years from now? Have my own watch factory here in Norway. I mean, why not? All I have to do is do it:)