One of the great things about the watch industry is its versatility. You can find brands in literary every price range and timepieces in every size. Whether you want a complicated piece or a simple one, or a model from a prestigious manufacturer or an up-and-coming brand, there’s something for everyone. The world around these brands is equally diverse, from the press to the retail side of things. Worn & Wound is a household name in this sphere. They are a watch media platform with a touch of e-commerce. They also organize well attended WindUp events all over the US. I was lucky enough to catch up with Zach and Blake, two of the company’s founders, at the most recent WindUp event in New York City. The schedule was tight, and they had a show to run, but they were kind enough to answer a few of my questions about their business, the event, and the watch industry in general.
To start off, do you mind telling me about the idea behind WindUp and how you guys ended up with this amazing event?
Blake: We’ve been doing Worn & Wound for 8 years now, and WindUp is about 5 years old. We had been in the industry for a few years just going to watch events. As you see, we are still pretty casual and young. We felt like a lot of the events we went to were just not our style, nor were we comfortable at them. And our friends who were not necessarily super die-hard watch people definitely wouldn’t be comfortable at them. Meanwhile, we were going to pop-up shows that were really casual, fun, and engaging. So, we wanted to take that style and bring it to the watch world.
Zach: And it also gives an opportunity to brands that could never have access to organizations and events like Baselworld. Since they’re not traditional retail brands, they’re certainly not on the scale of what you’re going to find at Basel.
Blake: Exactly. And, for a lot of the brands that you see here (especially some of the smaller, independent brands), there was a hesitancy to do events with bigger brands because they would be overshadowed. So, we wanted to make WindUp as democratic as possible. You can see that all the booths look similar because we want visitors to come in and start engaging with watches.
So, how has WindUp developed over time?
Blake: We started WindUp in Soho 6 years ago, and then, a year after that, we moved here to Chelsea Market. Three years ago, we did our first event in San Francisco. For now, we are in San Francisco and New York, but the plan is to do more events in 2020.
That’s awesome and actually a great segue into my next question: What is the difference between San Francisco and New York? Perhaps in terms of the watch crowd, brands, or the event as a whole?
Blake: I would say that the brands are pretty similar in terms of style, and there is a lot of overlap between the brands that attend. I think one of the big differences between New York and San Francisco is that New York has really become the epicenter for watch stuff in America. You find a lot of journalists out here; there are a lot of brands with boutiques out here; you have a lot of events, and so on. In San Francisco, there really was very little going on. In fact, when we first did San Francisco, we got feedback from guys here [in NYC] who said they really didn’t know how well a watch event would do out there. But we did the event regardless, and then the feedback was: Thank you so much for coming and doing it in San Francisco! Nothing like this event happens here, which is crazy because San Francisco is a huge city.
Zach: The New York show is the bigger story – people travel from all over. San Francisco feels a little bit smaller but with a concentrated, die-hard audience.
What are your long and short-term goals for WindUp?
Blake: Our short-term goal is to do another event in the summer, so 3 events in total. We’d like to keep New York and San Francisco and then add a third location, which we’ll announce soon. The long-term is simple: We want to leave the US and do something abroad, possibly in London.
Zach: We’d love to have a more Europe-focused version of this. There are a lot of brands that we know of that cannot travel. It’s expensive for them to bring the products and people over, so it would be much easier for them.
Blake: Not to mention that, even though we have friends all over the world here, the show has a very distinct, American micro-brand flavor. All the major American micro-brands are here, and I hope they would come overseas. However, I think we would get all the major European micro-brands coming to the show, as well as small independent brands. So, I think we are definitely going to try to do that at some point in the future.
Let’s talk about the industry in general: Is there anything that surprised you or that you like that came out recently? Anything memorable?
Blake: I think the last year or so has been the year of the GMT. Especially the well-priced GMTs. That’s been really cool. Just look at some of the brands here, who really try to push the envelope on what you can do at a decent price. The Farer World Timer is a great example. That watch could cost way more than it does.
Zach: What I love to see is that the quality in our price range has grown so much. Brands that started out with great, honest products are slowly elevating to the level of some of the larger brands. That’s awesome to see.