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Hi, I’ve been recently diving headlong into a watch design that I’d like to make a reality. I wonder if anyone can recommend a watch factory (anywhere world wide, but FWIW I’m located West Coast, USA).
I would like to work with someone who can help me produce a working prototype without the commitment to a full production run. If the prototype is successful and elicits enough interest, I’d then go onto producing more.
I have two leads with factories located in China but I’m cautious and skeptical - simply because I’ve never done this before.
If anyone can provide some advice or feedback on working with a watch factory, it would be greatly appreciated.
Thanks in advance!!
 

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Working prototype with finish one piece off .. usual bp prices in Germany.. 5 to 10 k for normal / steel material + custom dial.. 1..3 k on normal level . Custom strap 300 to1k on normal Material.. no complications and no bigger efforts on refinishing the standard Swiss Made movements. Time schedule (since you are no high prior customer with the first order.. up to more than a year) just what I heared
 

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Hi Mzinski,

One thing I strongly recommend is to start by having a prototype of your watch 3D-printed yourself. There are several online companies in the US (and elsewhere) that will 3D-print anything you want (as long as it's not a firearm. The NRA is crying). This will allow you to check that the proportions of the watch are OK.

Once you feel good with your design, my recommendation is to contact a Chinese watch factory through Alibaba.
That's what I did for my watches.
The most difficult will be to choose from the hundreds of watch factories out there on Alibaba. For me, I decided by first filtering out all the watch companies that had pictures of their fake Rolexes, AP... on their site. You've got about 2/3rd of the watch companies filtered out like this.
I think contacted some of the companies by chat, and discussed with the sales guys and girls. Again, you can filter out people that don't talk English good enough, but I'd say that 8 out of 10 speak excellent english.
Then, you filter out again on how you "feel" with the person. That's very subjective. You feel a person or you don't fell him/her.

Then, you must describe your project. You must have some technical drawings ready.

On average, I'd say that having a working prototype (in quartz) costs between 3-500 US$.

If you have concern about the Chinese company ripping you off by selling copies of your watch, this is of course a risk. But I believe that even if you go with a US or Swiss or German company to make your watches, if someone wants to copy your design, he will do it by contacting a Chinese company. But I don't think a Chinese company will copy your design just for fun.

One final word : When you realize that for a few hundred $, you can have your own, unique watch. This is insane. That would have been impossible 20 years ago.
This opens new realms of possibilities for people like you and me, who have an idea, but don't have thousands of $$ to spend on a project that migt fail.
You have an idea, you spend about 500$, you have the prototype, you show it around, you make a Kickstarter campaign, and you have the fun of your life.

Don't hesitate to contact me if you have more questions. No need to tell me about your design, if you're afraid I might steal it.

But again, don't hesitate to give your idea a try. I can guarantee you it will be the most fun you'll have with 500$ (on something legal and you can tell your wife, I mean...)
 

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Hi Mzinski,

One thing I strongly recommend is to start by having a prototype of your watch 3D-printed yourself. There are several online companies in the US (and elsewhere) that will 3D-print anything you want (as long as it's not a firearm. The NRA is crying). This will allow you to check that the proportions of the watch are OK.

Once you feel good with your design, my recommendation is to contact a Chinese watch factory through Alibaba.
That's what I did for my watches.
The most difficult will be to choose from the hundreds of watch factories out there on Alibaba. For me, I decided by first filtering out all the watch companies that had pictures of their fake Rolexes, AP... on their site. You've got about 2/3rd of the watch companies filtered out like this.
I think contacted some of the companies by chat, and discussed with the sales guys and girls. Again, you can filter out people that don't talk English good enough, but I'd say that 8 out of 10 speak excellent english.
Then, you filter out again on how you "feel" with the person. That's very subjective. You feel a person or you don't fell him/her.

Then, you must describe your project. You must have some technical drawings ready.

On average, I'd say that having a working prototype (in quartz) costs between 3-500 US$.

If you have concern about the Chinese company ripping you off by selling copies of your watch, this is of course a risk. But I believe that even if you go with a US or Swiss or German company to make your watches, if someone wants to copy your design, he will do it by contacting a Chinese company. But I don't think a Chinese company will copy your design just for fun.

One final word : When you realize that for a few hundred $, you can have your own, unique watch. This is insane. That would have been impossible 20 years ago.
This opens new realms of possibilities for people like you and me, who have an idea, but don't have thousands of $$ to spend on a project that migt fail.
You have an idea, you spend about 500$, you have the prototype, you show it around, you make a Kickstarter campaign, and you have the fun of your life.

Don't hesitate to contact me if you have more questions. No need to tell me about your design, if you're afraid I might steal it.

But again, don't hesitate to give your idea a try. I can guarantee you it will be the most fun you'll have with 500$ (on something legal and you can tell your wife, I mean...)
So your saying it is possible to get your idea of a watch designed either by yourself or paying someone, and 3D print it, then get a Chinese manufacture to make a prototype? For around $500?(for quartz)

Sent from my Moto G (5) Plus using Tapatalk
 

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So your saying it is possible to get your idea of a watch designed either by yourself or paying someone, and 3D print it, then get a Chinese manufacture to make a prototype? For around $500?(for quartz)
The $500 is only the Chinese factory making your sample watch.
If you have someone design your watch, and/or have someone make a 3D model of it (for example in Solidworks), you'll have to pay them.

I have enough knowledge on 3D software, so that I could do this part on my own. 3D printing the first prototype (in resin) was about $30.

Or you may even try to ask the Chinese company to transform your drawing into a watch. Shouldn't be a real problem for them.

My advice : If you have an idea, go for it ! Don't ask other people if they like it or not. If YOU like it, and if YOU want to have your own watch at your wrist, that's all that matters.
 

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FWIW, as a frequent watch buyer, I don’t know most of the factories assembling the watches I purchase, but do know I really like the product that are produced with many brand names by the FullSwing factory(s), including Helson, Deep Blue, Armida and others.
 

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Hi Mzinski,

One thing I strongly recommend is to start by having a prototype of your watch 3D-printed yourself. There are several online companies in the US (and elsewhere) that will 3D-print anything you want (as long as it's not a firearm. The NRA is crying). This will allow you to check that the proportions of the watch are OK.

Would you or anyone here recommend a specific printing company? I may just get a watch printed just for these reasons, but searching for 3D printing companies yields countless of results. Any one that specifically does watches or is familiar doing them?
 

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Would you or anyone here recommend a specific printing company? I may just get a watch printed just for these reasons, but searching for 3D printing companies yields countless of results. Any one that specifically does watches or is familiar doing them?
Due to the nature of 3D printing, I don't think you need to find one that specializes in watches per se, but you might want to also consider what you want you want it printed of. Some companies specialize in metal printing, others only in plastics, some larger ones may be able to do a much wider range of materials and then there are some that specialize in large scale products in a build space that spans in the metres.

If you want some high precision/accuracy results with excellent finishing, I'd suggest laser sintering.
 
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Due to the nature of 3D printing, I don't think you need to find one that specializes in watches per se, but you might want to also consider what you want you want it printed of. Some companies specialize in metal printing, others only in plastics, some larger ones may be able to do a much wider range of materials and then there are some that specialize in large scale products in a build space that spans in the metres.

If you want some high precision/accuracy results with excellent finishing, I'd suggest laser sintering.
I'm just prototyping, so I figured I didn't require fine printing. I ended up going with Shapeways and used their least expensive material (versatile plastic). With everything set to cheapo mode, it's only $5-$6 per part and came out to a total of around $30 shipped. Super stoked to use this service for rapid prototyping.
 

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The $500 is only the Chinese factory making your sample watch.
If you have someone design your watch, and/or have someone make a 3D model of it (for example in Solidworks), you'll have to pay them.

I have enough knowledge on 3D software, so that I could do this part on my own. 3D printing the first prototype (in resin) was about $30.

Or you may even try to ask the Chinese company to transform your drawing into a watch. Shouldn't be a real problem for them.

My advice : If you have an idea, go for it ! Don't ask other people if they like it or not. If YOU like it, and if YOU want to have your own watch at your wrist, that's all that matters.
I would love to do this, but am daunted by the sheer numbers of manufacturers out there. I appreciate that these things are commercially sensitive, but surely there is enough capacity out there that people could share some recommendations?
 

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I would love to do this, but am daunted by the sheer numbers of manufacturers out there. I appreciate that these things are commercially sensitive, but surely there is enough capacity out there that people could share some recommendations?
Without knowing what you are doing, recommendations can only go so far. We have no idea what price range you are aiming for, your timeline, where you're located (for support), the amount of funds, the complexity of the watch, or even the type of watch and materials you need... and that's the most basic info.

Besides, recommendations from random people you don't know aren't going to be entirely helpful. They could have not done their HW either. The best thing to do is to talk to the factories and gauge them yourself. Communication alone can be the deciding factor. Ask for references, ask for samples of projects and manufacturer's they've worked with, tell them to redact brand info even... but at least request to see some of their work/capabilities. Like you said, there are dozens if not hundreds of these types of companies. If one doesn't respond, you can move on. You want a partner that can reassure you with everything. Even if I recommend a factory, who knows? They might not work with chronographs, or titanium for instance or things YOU want done. I can only say that they are decent with a specific watch design - not necessarily yours. They could be the worst partner for you in fact. This also applies the opposite way too. Good luck with the project!
 

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Hi, I’ve been recently diving headlong into a watch design that I’d like to make a reality. I wonder if anyone can recommend a watch factory (anywhere world wide, but FWIW I’m located West Coast, USA).
I would like to work with someone who can help me produce a working prototype without the commitment to a full production run. If the prototype is successful and elicits enough interest, I’d then go onto producing more.
I have two leads with factories located in China but I’m cautious and skeptical - simply because I’ve never done this before.
If anyone can provide some advice or feedback on working with a watch factory, it would be greatly appreciated.
Thanks in advance!!
I have been looking at this list-

https://bolongwatch.com/best-private-label-watch-manufacturers-in-china/

Anybody have any experience with these companies?
 

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Any of them to be avoided or recommended based on your experience?
Unfortunately my experience is not enough to give a good opinion, but it seems one of them is behind a pretty successful micro.

MEIGEER also has some own-brand watches with a decent rep, and FIYTA has some pretty impressive releases of their own.
 

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I'm surprised to see Fiyta on that list as a private manufacturer - they're the Swatch group of China - hands in many pies - a few years ago they even bought out (well 51% joint venture) Beijing Watch Factory - a venerable "old" Chinese brand. It'd be like getting Swatch to make a private label watch for individuals :D
 
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