Looking back at 2020, and what’s in store for 2021

Looking back at 2020, and what’s in store for 2021

My struggle to find a watch that spoke to my style and design preferences whilst still being reasonably affordable led me to start Sekoni Original back in 2019. My budget was around SGD250 (USD185) and at that point, I wanted a dress watch to match my semi-formal to formal wear. 

Don’t get me wrong, there are many great watch brands out there that’ll work- Seiko, Casio, Swatch, and a few microbrands that I’ll be happy to wear even now. My search for this “perfect timepiece” (I’ll probably write a blog about why I think this doesn’t exist) went from scrolling through e-commerce sites, to chatting with suppliers, and actually thinking of creating my own timepiece. One thing led to another and 6 months down, Sekoni was born.

This article isn’t about why Sekoni was founded (I’ll write a blog about this too), rather, about what we’ve been up to in 2020 and what we have planned for 2021. I’d admit, the amount of interactions we have with our buyers and community is lower than desired. I intend to change that with weekly blogs released. For those of you who are interested, sign up for our emails and we’ll send you an update when a blog is released. 

2020- Venturing into the unknown

2020 has been a slow year for Sekoni. 

Having launched our e-commerce store in December 2019 after our Kickstarter campaign, we got off on a great start and had plans to expand the brand locally and internationally. 

(We partnered with a Japanese crowdfunding agency- they sold Tidal Moonphase for SGD520/USD385 on a popular Japanese crowdfunding site)

 

At this time, I was constantly pondering about the next design for Sekoni. The possibilities were endless. Analogue or Digital? What design direction should we head towards? 

I started tinkering with the idea of bridging the disconnect between the smartwatch trend and the incumbent occupier of wrists - analogue watches. 

Why did I have to go with one or the other? Why not have the best of both worlds, creating a product that blends the best in fashion with the best in technology? 

These thoughts led to a product roadmap for a customizable hybrid smartwatch.  

Thrilled with the potential of this idea, , I pitched to friends, onboarded team members, and subsequently also joined SMU IIE (link)

Here’s a short pitch I made to SMU IIE:  

 

I dived headfirst into creating this product, spending most of my time liaising with manufacturers, working on design, hardware, and software, alongside the team. In November, 8 months into it, with prototypes of the hardware and design sketches of the final printed circuit board (hardware that’s found in smartwatches) in hand, I asked myself a few questions:

  1. How long more before we can release this product?
  2. Can we be 100% sure of the reliability of the hardware and software we create?
  3. Is this what we want to be doing in 2021?

There’s a saying about how a carelessly planned project takes thrice as long and a carefully planned one only takes twice as long. 

We were behind on all of our initial product roadmaps and were realistically 9-12 months away from launching. I took a hard look at our timelines and reflected on how we can best achieve...

In the end, we concluded that creating a functioning prototype is viable, however, creating a commercially viable product is something our small team currently lacked the expertise to achieve. 

Failure was not something that I had considered before starting. It’s clear that no one goes into a brand new venture expecting or preparing for failure. There comes a point where the possible rewards from a venture are far outweighed by the opportunity cost.

The struggle is with the intangibility of these factors- it's tough to decipher what the right decision is or whether you've made the right one. Personally, what made the most sense for Sekoni at that point was to put an indefinite pause on that project, and get back to making honestly good watches.

2021

December 2020 was spent assessing Sekoni’s entire journey and where we wanted to go. 

Sekoni had a simple start- with me stumbling from one step to another, eventually ending up with Tidal Moonphase which is loved by wearers from over 30 countries. There isn’t a world-changing problem we’re solving- what we provide is a “want” not a “need”. We’re not producing revolutionary technology (we tried and failed, for now). 

What we do is share with the world our take on watches and on fashion. If you love our take on it and believe it will suit you, buy from us. If not, buy from one of the many reliable watch brands out there. I am confident that Tidal Moonphase is a strong option for dress watches below SGD300/USD230 and would love for anyone who resonates with our design to buy from us. 

With this thought in mind, we move forward in 2021. 

We will be releasing 3 new watch design series this year, all with a different theme. Each design is targeted at a specific segment. 

As a brand, there isn’t a specific gender or age group I am very keen to target at the moment. How I would describe our ideal audience is through their youthfulness and discernment.

As a watch collection, each theme will inevitably lean more towards one gender and speak more to a sub-category of individuals within our brand’s target group. 

All great brands require a great vision/mission statement and to be honest, we’re still in the midst of deciding on the exact phrasing of ours. I don’t believe in one-time successes, more so in iterations so here is our current: 

Vision:

We want to see a world where youthful and discerning individuals feel emboldened through representation.

Mission: 

100 million individuals. Over the next century, we want to tangibly impact 100 million unique persons through our brand. That’s a million lives a year. This is no easy feat but chasing dreams of a better world, taking the road less taken- that’s the only way we know how to do things and that’s who we are. 

A random write-up:

We’re starting with watches because we believe that watches tell a story that many other products can’t.

They last.

They’re functional. Not just a pretty face.

They’re everyday pieces- you won’t get judged for wearing the same watch everyday like you would for a shirt.

They’re symbolic. They can represent a specific moment, or just be cool.

We’ll do our best to create a brand which can represent you, a brand you can trust. Who do we speak to? Young people, people who dare to dream big, people who are different, people like ourselves.

When you put a Sekoni watch on your wrists, when you see it lying on the table, we want you to feel represented. To know that there’s a group of individuals out there just like you, bold, boundary-breaking, and different. We find comfort in recognising our differences, unity in our uniqueness. Go find a Sekoni that represents your style. If you don’t see it yet, you can be sure we’ll build it soon.

Road Map

In 2021, our goal is to release 3 new designs (maybe 4). Here is a schedule of the product launches:

  • May 2021- New watch design launch (Athleisure) and rebrand
  • July 2021- New design launch
  • September 2021- New design launch
  • (Maybe) December 2021: New design launch

  • Over the past 3 months, we've been working hard at creating this new design series. We’ve identified athleisure as our main theme and I will be writing about this very soon. 

    (Sneak peak of our athleisure watches ;) )

    These new design series will be launched with limited pieces, with only a few hundred pieces in each of the initial launches. Tidal Moonphase has and will continue to serve as young people's preferred moonphase dress watch and she needs more pals- a casual fashion watch, a sporty watch, a minimalistic watch, and more.

    What you can be sure of is that we will only release products that  we are madly in love with and are 100% confident of in its reliability. Our battery-operated watches will continue to come with 5-year warranties because we strongly believe that a good watch endures and creates memories with its wearers.

    Conclusion

    1 million unique stories a year. To be honest, I'm not exactly sure how Sekoni will get there. What I do know is that the Sekoni team and I will build it one watch component at a time, one blog at a time, one marketing campaign at a time, and eventually with consistent perseverance and good execution, I’m confident we will get there.

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