TRUE ROMANCE

WHAT'S LOVE GOT TO DO WITH IT?

by Angus MacFadyen, CEO and Founder Alsta Watch

Why do we say that Alsta was resurrected to bring the romance back to watches? Romance. Now there is a word to misconstrue. What has that got to do with watches? Isn’t that what happens in Jane Austen novels?
When you Google the word romance, you get two meanings. The first one, which is the one perhaps most of us think of when we hear the word; a feeling of excitement and mystery associated with love. It is, however, the second one that we are most interested in; a quality or feeling of mystery, excitement, and remoteness from everyday life.
In our world these feelings of mystery and excitement refer to the back stories of watches. Military watch collectors, for example, are seduced by the scars of war and the patina of a time long past. They are relics of previous lives and when we hold them in our hands or strap them onto our wrists we let our imaginations take us back to what the watch has been through, who wore it, when, where and we visualise the battles and the historical events it must have witnessed.

PURE ESCAPISM

Synonyms of romance include; mystery, glamour, excitement, colourfulness, exoticism and mystique. These could all be used to describe the 1950s, ‘60s and ‘70s with its jet-set and Hollywood icons, many of whom were collectors and flaunters of well-known and lesser-known wristwatches.
Of course, we all know the early Submariners worn by James Bond, the Speedmasters worn by the Apollo Astronauts, the Heuer Monaco worn by Steve McQueen and Paul Newman’s Rolex Daytona. There are also countless lesser-known watches that epitomise the glamour and mystique of those times that make interesting and desirable collectibles for those who don’t have unlimited means; such Jacques Cousteau’s Doxa, Aquatimer or Seamaster, Cary Grant’s Cartier Tank or indeed Matt Hooper’s Alsta Nautoscaph.
We desire these watches not because they are better made or are more accurate time-keepers than their contemporary cousins but because by holding or wearing them we are seduced by their back stories and maybe even transported in a daydream back in time to the set of To Catch a Thief, the trackside at Le Mans or the deck of the Calypso. Don’t you? We do.

These feelings of excitement and escapism from everyday life, of course along with timeless design and robustness of materials and manufacture, are what excite us about watches and in our view there are few watch makers whose ethos encapsulates romance along with quality of design and manufacture. One of our favourite watch makers is Schofield. We love them as they are all about the romance of the sea and in particular lighthouses but apart from them we can’t think of any other true romantics in the watch making world.
So, bringing the romance – the mystery, excitement and escapism - back to watches became our mission before pencil was put to paper to plan and design the first model of the newly-resurrected Alsta Watch Company. It has been a thrilling adventure so far and we have barely started.

 

FUTURE

The whole of 2023 was dedicated to assessing the vision, mission and strategy of Alsta and the brand values and purpose were more clearly defined, although more work still has to be done on these.
The PPT deck gives a good introduction to the mission and values of Alsta and in 2024 and 2025 I would like to start to work with a co-founder who will help me to build a strong, credible and successful heritage brand that has history but is contemporary. A brand that is sophisticated and sexy but authentic and relevant.
My vision for Alsta is for it to be a key part of the lives of style conscious, sophisticated and discerning people who enjoy beautiful things and aesthetics. Perhaps unrivalled engineering is less important to the Alsta customer than the sense of experience and style of owning and wearing an Alsta.
The brand purpose is to remind the wearer to be authentic, to be purposeful and to be proud of their sophistication. This has still to be fully explored and nailed down as I realise that asking a customer to remember to be something could be at odds with authenticity. If you are something, you don’t have to be reminded therefore perhaps these purpose statements need some more work.

All brands give the customer a feeling of something. I would like Alsta to make the customer feel sophisticated, authentic, and purposeful if this is possible through messaging and brand experience.
The customer experience should be a way to stand above the others, including the top brands such as Rolex. With those brands, ownership is often not easy or pleasant. I know this as I used to be a collector. Servicing is slow, anonymous and expensive. I want this to be disrupted by Alsta. Changing a strap or bracelet is easy for watch nerds and watch people but for stylish individuals who do not have a lot of watch knowledge but love their Alsta changing a strap or bracelet may require a visit to the jeweler. We should make this easy and pleasurable.

 

Angus McFadyen, CEO and Founder Alsta Watch

 

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