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Kind of a big question, right? A dream maybe? I have modded and built from bits of this and bits of that in the past. I love putting a watch together and making it "mine". It has always been a dream of mine to start a micro watch company, and it is now sink or swim time! A possible midlife crisis is looming and the idea of taking control of my own destiny and doing something I love vs. just earning a paycheck is continuously humming around in my head (does this sound familiar to anyone else?).

So here we go... Business plan - check. Start up capital - check.

The big need is a source for dial, case, bracelet and hand manufacturing. Oh yeah, and MOVEMENTS! When I say big, that is kind of a understatement. I literally need a source for everything. Is there any hope? Can anyone help point me in the right direction? I figured not knowing anything myself, that the kind and knowledgeable members of WUS would be the place to start.

Some of you might believe I am crazy and you might be right, but I think it is time to turn a life long passion into a fulfilling enterprise. Time for me at least, to stop saying what if and just do it. Any help that any of you kind folks on the board can offer would be greatly appreciated! Thank you so much in advance!
 

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Well, I applaud you for the guts to try it. If you're not a watchmaker you will need to hire one, if only for warranty and service work. If you are a watchmaker, your mat supply house will be able to supply movts and parts. Outsourcing things like dials and cases is smart, you can't do everything yourself, if you do, it will take forever to get the product out. There are dial restoration and replacement companies in the US, so I assume they can manufacture dials, and you may want to look to Japan, China or Asia for cases, etc. To a lot of people, Chinese and watch mean low quality, but you get what you pay for. There are a lot of Chinese companies that are producing top quality components, including movements. I know a man in Montreal who gets killer Titanium cases from Hong Kong. It also depends on what niche you are trying to fill. I believe it is very possible to do what you are doing and be successful. I waited 30 years to become a watchmaker, but at last I'm doing what I love.
 

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Outta time! I am glad to hear that you have followed your dream as well! It is definately something to be admired. Thanks so much for your kind words and advice as well. Any names of some of the manufactures you speak of would be a huge help! Right now the design is up in the air. Stay tuned!
 

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Kind of a big question, right? A dream maybe? I have modded and built from bits of this and bits of that in the past. I love putting a watch together and making it "mine". It has always been a dream of mine to start a micro watch company, and it is now sink or swim time! A possible midlife crisis is looming and the idea of taking control of my own destiny and doing something I love vs. just earning a paycheck is continuously humming around in my head (does this sound familiar to anyone else?).

So here we go... Business plan - check. Start up capital - check.

The big need is a source for dial, case, bracelet and hand manufacturing. Oh yeah, and MOVEMENTS! When I say big, that is kind of a understatement. I literally need a source for everything. Is there any hope? Can anyone help point me in the right direction? I figured not knowing anything myself, that the kind and knowledgeable members of WUS would be the place to start.

Some of you might believe I am crazy and you might be right, but I think it is time to turn a life long passion into a fulfilling enterprise. Time for me at least, to stop saying what if and just do it. Any help that any of you kind folks on the board can offer would be greatly appreciated! Thank you so much in advance!
Best of luck to you, :-! Might be worth checking around the U.S.A watch repair/parts sites, there are at least 2 that I've come across where you can have a watch built to your own specs. Pick out a case, movement, dial, color, band, you name it. Didn't enquire about cost. Cheers.
 

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Forgot to ask, have you checked out Blancier, Lottermann & Sohne on the whatchuseek home page. Fantastic, shows just what is available.
 

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Forgot to ask, have you checked out Blancier, Lottermann & Sohne on the whatchuseek home page. Fantastic, shows just what is available.
Actually, you don't have to fool around with any of this at all. Just look under "private label" and you'll find any number of watch manufacturing companies ready to make any watch you want. Bel Air, which NEVER gets mentioned on this forum, because it's an American watch manufacturing company that has been in business (in New Jersey) for over 50 years, will do private labels from five pieces on up. And yes, they do mechanical watches too.

All you need is a checkbook.
 

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Actually, you don't have to fool around with any of this at all. Just look under "private label" and you'll find any number of watch manufacturing companies ready to make any watch you want. Bel Air, which NEVER gets mentioned on this forum, because it's an American watch manufacturing company that has been in business (in New Jersey) for over 50 years, will do private labels from five pieces on up. And yes, they do mechanical watches too.

All you need is a checkbook.
While Belair Time Company has offices in New Jersey, they actually assemble most watches in the US Virgin Islands in a some tax haven. They also contract out assembly for some of their higher end watches with assemblers in Switzerland.

One of the nice things about Belair is they usually mark the actual Eta movement they used in small type at the bottom of the dial or on the caseback.

How to start a watch company for people who have never run a business:

  1. Start with a large fortune.
  2. Build a watch company from scratch.
  3. End with a small fortune. :-d
 

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Discussion Starter #10 (Edited)
How to start a watch company for people who have never run a business:

  1. Start with a large fortune.
  2. Build a watch company from scratch.
  3. End with a small fortune. :-d
Eeeb, I will take that to heart!

Thanks to everyone for the suggestions. Sorry it took me so long to get back to you guys. Been busy with a new baby, lots of 9-5 work and very little sleep. As of right now, I am still hunting around trying to figure out who really does what, and jobs this out, etc.

Belair sounds very interesting. Thank you so much for the lead! Looking at their site it looks as if they want to work with B&M jewelers only. We will see. Does anyone know if they produce custom cases?

As ancy as I am to get this off the ground, it will take some time to get it right! Cheers!
 

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Discussion Starter #11
How to start a watch company for people who have never run a business:

  1. Start with a large fortune.
  2. Build a watch company from scratch.
  3. End with a small fortune. :-d
Eeeb, I will take that to heart!

Thanks to everyone for the suggestions. Sorry it took me so long to get back to you guys. Been busy with a new baby, lots of 9-5 work and very little sleep. As of right now, I am still hunting around trying to figure out who really does what, and jobs this out, etc.

Belair sounds very interesting. Thank you so much for the lead! Looking at their site it looks as if they want to work with B&M jewelers only. We will see. Does anyone know if they produce custom cases?

As ancy as I am to get this off the ground, it will take some time to get it right! Cheers!
 

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While Belair Time Company has offices in New Jersey, they actually assemble most watches in the US Virgin Islands in a some tax haven. They also contract out assembly for some of their higher end watches with assemblers in Switzerland.

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I'm not sure how many of their watches are assembled in the V.I. or whether they do assembly there at all. The watch industry in the V.I. seems to have fallen on evil days lately, but I haven't heard too much about it lately so my information may be well out of date. The V.I. were purchased from Denmark in 1911, and as a result watches assembled in the V.I. are sometimes subject to US tariffs when brought into the USA. So it's not exactly a tax haven. I'm not sure of the actual details because it's somewhat complex. Because the V.I. were purchased from Denmark, the V.I. has a customs union with the EU, and this at one time was highly adventageous to the watch industry there. At one time Orient and several Swiss companies had assembly factories located there to make watches for export to South America.

It would be interesting if someone could ask Belair about this. They're one of several watch companies in the USA that have been around for a long time (Croton, while solely an importer, springs to mind) . With the dollar going the way it is, the strictly financial arguments in favor of American assembly are growing.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Sorry for the double post above. I was trying to edit it before posting and somehow I fat fingered it.

Somewhere Else - I have emailed them. I will let you know what I hear back.
 

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I'm not sure how many of their watches are assembled in the V.I. or whether they do assembly there at all. The watch industry in the V.I. seems to have fallen on evil days lately, but I haven't heard too much about it lately so my information may be well out of date. The V.I. were purchased from Denmark in 1911, and as a result watches assembled in the V.I. are sometimes subject to US tariffs when brought into the USA. So it's not exactly a tax haven. I'm not sure of the actual details because it's somewhat complex. Because the V.I. were purchased from Denmark, the V.I. has a customs union with the EU, and this at one time was highly adventageous to the watch industry there. At one time Orient and several Swiss companies had assembly factories located there to make watches for export to South America.

It would be interesting if someone could ask Belair about this. They're one of several watch companies in the USA that have been around for a long time (Croton, while solely an importer, springs to mind) . With the dollar going the way it is, the strictly financial arguments in favor of American assembly are growing.
There are no duties or tariffs between the US and the US Virgin Islands (nor between the US mainland and Puerto Rico). They are all part of the US (with US area codes even!) with the legal status of Territories. Everyone born there gets US passports as they are US citizens.

Periodically tax law is changed to encourage businesses to locate to these territories. This special treatment comes and goes. For a while, all profits made from manufacturing there were not subject to US taxation. I have no knowledge of the current situation as I no longer own a Virgin Islands based company (I actually did once).

Watch assembly requires highly skilled workers. The Swiss believe it takes several years to properly train such workers. So startup costs can be high enough to make outsourcing assembly to Switzerland (or China) attractive. (The problem with China is the quality seems to be subject to wide variation causing real problems for production scheduling.)
 

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There are no duties or tariffs between the US and the US Virgin Islands (nor between the US mainland and Puerto Rico). They are all part of the US (with US area codes even!) with the legal status of Territories. Everyone born there gets US passports as they are US citizens.
I didn't mention Puerto Rico, though for a while Wittnauer had quite a large assembly facility there. It has different status than the V.I. does. I suggest you recheck on tariffs and other measures between both the USA and the V.I. It's been some years since I've been involved with the V.I. watch industry and anything is possible, but it would take a revision of the treaty of between Denmark and the USA to change the fundamental situation, I believe.

I have no knowledge of the current situation as I no longer own a Virgin Islands based company (I actually did once).
Conceivably both of our information is out of date, mine more so than yours.

Watch assembly requires highly skilled workers. The Swiss believe it takes several years to properly train such workers.
Maybe this is a matter of degree. Lots of the factories in Switzerland seem crewed by local housewives, both from the immediate neighborhood and from just over the border in France.
 

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... Lots of the factories in Switzerland seem crewed by local housewives, both from the immediate neighborhood and from just over the border in France.
I encountered a complaint from a Swiss citizen about all those foreigners driving across the border every day and taking Swiss jobs ... I guess that kind of griping is world wide :-d
 

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I encountered a complaint from a Swiss citizen about all those foreigners driving across the border every day and taking Swiss jobs ... I guess that kind of griping is world wide :-d
I guess pay in Switzerland is around 20% higher than in France. So are prices. The only difference is that the French employees go home every night to France. Best of both worlds:-d
 
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