IT’S being shipped to 50 countries, gained the attention of big UK publications “GQ” and “Men’s Health” and is in the midst of creating a new line – luxury watch company Erroyl is making waves across the globe and it’s based right here in Canberra.
The ACT’s first watch company is led by Wes Knight, Michael Phanprachit and Brad Wilton. Erroyl produces luxury automatic dress watches “designed for elegance and crafted with precision”.
After gaining financial support through crowd-funding site Kickstarter – which raised them $20,000 and a good “PR boost” – the company launched its first collection of men’s dress watches in December, 2014.
Since then its popularity has grown; from its initial launch shipment to 18 countries, Erroyl watches now go to 50.
Not bad for three Canberra blokes who still run the business as a side project from home.
“Not many people hear about Canberra internationally and it proves that you don’t have to be in the big cities [in Australia] to be seen,” designer Michael Phanprachit said
“We didn’t intend to get such big visibility internationally. We launched hoping to make an impact in the Australian market… however, it was the European market that caught on because they really liked our aesthetics.”
According to CEO Wes Knight, tapping into watch blogs, watch forums and social media have been the keys to success for Erroyl.
“Our second collection, which we released in November, was picked up by a Norway watch blogger who then wrote about it in the second largest newspaper in Norway,” Knight said.
“And from that, Norway just exploded. Who knew Norwegians were so interested in watches from Australia?
“We seem to ironically do bigger overseas than in Australia, which is not overly surprising because the local Australian market is a bit of a challenge. You have to make it elsewhere, I feel, before the Australian market accepts you as their own.”
Now, Erroyl’s biggest markets are in the UK, US, Norway, Germany, Netherlands, Singapore and Australia.
Erroyl is the brainchild of Knight, who has collected watches since he was about five years old.
“I’ve always been fascinated by watches since I was a kid,” he said.
“So it seemed to be something that I knew, and something I understood.
“I was looking into doing a business that was a little bit different, a little bit creative and I thought if you are going to do a business you are going to have to do something that you understand and something that you know and something where you understand the psyche of buyers and what they are potentially looking for.”
He called on the help of friends Phanprachit, who heads all things design for the company, and Wilton, who heads logistics and shipping.
For Phanprachit it was a chance to push his creativity into a different direction.
“The exciting bit for me is composing the watch from the different parts,” he said.
“It’s not just about looks. It’s looking at the watch as a whole – its function and movement.
“We try and source the best mechanisms coupled with our own style and personality.
“It’s subtle, but also really detailed. We try to be innovative in little niche ways.
“We try to plan six to 12 months in advance the style we want to portray.
“Once we select the movement we dress it up in our own style and nail down the design.”
Currently, the trio is designing a new line for women, which is hoped to be manufactured in Switzerland – a different approach to the men’s collections, which are manufactured in Hong Kong.
“We don’t see ourselves moving out of Canberra, we see Canberra as part of our identity as a business,” Knight said.
“Longer term, five to 10 years down the track, because it’s a huge capital investment, is to look at what elements we can produce in Canberra or what elements can we manage as far as assembling.
“So, realistically, long term having the watches manufactured in Switzerland and assembled in Australia.
“There’s just not the expertise here and that’s something we have to grapple with over time… We’d love to have someone here assembling them. It’s just the expertise and having that expertise here in Canberra.”