Ever since Frank Giese was a little boy, he loved watches so it was no surprise that he would one day own his own watch brand. Bavarian Watches are made in Germany and designed with passion in Munich. With sustainability at the forefront of this brand, Frank set out on a mission too make affordable, high end watches that would make any one feel special.
He has succeeded in his journey and we spent some time with him to find out more…
Tell us about the journey that lead you to launching Bavarian Watch…
I teach creatives in Munich and have done for some years now. Besides the required skills, I impart the knowledge of being an entrepreneur. I helped many people to find their own way and to establish them in their market.
I always wanted to launch my own company, but my job and daily routine stopped me from making it a reality.
I have always been a watch lover, ever since I received my first watch as a little boy.
Two years ago, one of my beloved vintage watches broke down and I couldn’t find anyone to repair it. So, I redesigned the missing part and repaired the watch myself.
Nevertheless, I wanted to buy a new watch. But I was quickly annoyed by the offer on the market.
I found that there are three main categories of watches:
Very expensive traditional German or Swiss brands, very cheaply produced watches from fashion brands and some brands that call themselves luxury brands and fake a tradition and origin.
This was the starting point of my journey. I said to myself: Hey, you’re a designer, why don’t you create your own watch?
I made some sketches, and, in a few days, I was sure that I could improve some areas easily. I wanted a sustainable watch that you can keep for decades. I have always hated the fact that a cheap watch becomes useless because of bad materials and that you can’t repair it because there are no spare parts available.
I wanted to create a unique design because every successful luxury brand has its special design icons. That is why they are copied by so many other brands. And that is also the reason why almost all watches look the same. And finally, I wanted to offer an affordable price.
I found out that many famous Swiss and German brands have increased their prices absurdly in recent years. As I have been working as a designer for years, I know that production prices have not increased that much recently. On the contrary, there are many new technologies that help to produce more precise and cheaper than ever before.
On the other hand, I know that jewellery and watch making is a very traditional industry. And many companies are still operating as they did a hundred years ago.
So, with a little more innovation and efficiency, it was clear that it is possible to become better and spend more money on better materials. Meaning it must be possible to produce a real luxury watch made in Germany at an affordable price.
At that moment I knew that this would not be just one watch for myself, but possibly the birth of a new watch brand.
So, I started to design the case of this watch. I grew up and live in Munich, a city with a rich tradition in design, art, and culture, surrounded by an impressive landscape with lakes, rivers, and mountains. A place where tradition meets high tech. So, I have absorbed all these impressions and concentrated them in the design.
What has been the biggest learning curve since launching the business?
I’m an experienced designer and I have successfully worked on many projects with the leading companies in Germany. But this challenge was different. Using the most advanced software solutions, I have designed some cases. I have tried out many solutions to find the perfect shape to wear. This was much more time consuming than I expected and at that point I understood why many companies simply copy and adopt a design. It is not easy to create a new design for a product that is about 100 years old and to be even better than the existing solutions. I spent a lot of time on testing, trial and error and detailed work.
But it was worth it. The original design language of the first sketches has been retained and the watch feels perfect on the wrist.
Do you have plans to expand your product range in the future, if so, what will you add?
Yes, I’m currently working on three other models and and a fourth one will be released also for sure. The next model will be even more sporty and very tough. One other model will have more functions, which ones depend on the development of my movement supplier in Switzerland. It will be one of the first watches with this new movement. For the current model, which I really love, I created a second version for the enthusiasts of mechanical movements. The fourth model tops the range by exclusive materials, handmade parts, skilled craftsmanship and a German mechanical movement.
I don’t have any interest in quick money making, but to establish this company as a serious brand.
Talk us through the design and manufacturing process…
All my designs start with very rough sketches. I started to build the volume around the clockwork. I hate unnecessarily bulky watches which is the reason why I created a very flat case, but robust enough to resist high pressure and shocks. I like traditional proportions which I had in mind the whole process of designing. But I learned fast why many watches are not consequently designed. I found many watches with too small hands or the dials with bad proportions. This is because hands are normally stock parts. This is the reason why they often do not fit the design, because it is very expensive to make your own hands. Only the top brands spend the money. The dials must be designed according to the specifications of the movement. For example the position of the date is strictly predetermined. If you chose the movement after you have made the design it will look strange. But this is often made, because of some restrictions of the Swiss suppliers or, if a watch company uses Asian movements, by the fact that the Asian suppliers change the specifications constantly.
I set up a network of manufacturers. Each one of them is a specialist for the part they produce. This was a challenge because it is very unusual to work this way. I had to convince some of them to work as a team, but now they are all happy with the result.
Looking back since launching the brand, is there anything you would do different?
The only thing is that I wish I started marketing the brand sooner. Looking back I would say I should have started earlier.
Talk us through an average day in your life…
I always start with a little workout in the morning. Then I take my bike and drive to the office. I’m doing some routine work in the morning, talking to colleges and have lunch with them. In the afternoon I start my creative work, the most of it after I go out for a walk with my dog. With another little workout I usually finish the day.
How much has social media played a role in the success of your brand?
Very much. The response and feedback I got over social media has helped me much to go my way and it’s for sure at the moment the best method of advertising.
What is your go-to quote when lacking motivation?
I simply accept the fact that one can’t be super productive all the time. I know myself very well and I know I need time of relax and then I also have periods of productive creativity. This is well balanced. So I don’t really judge the less productive periods as a motivation lack. It’s a sort of meditation I would say.
How has Covid19 impacted your business?
Not really much. Many people reported that they had difficulties with external suppliers, delivery and so on. I worked a long time with tight deadlines together with international suppliers, this is why I’m used to handling such trouble. But I was in doubt for a short time if it is a good idea to start a new brand in times of COVID 19. But now I’m convinced it is a good time to start a new brand. My business is online anyway, so lockdown does not really affect me.
What’s your ten year goal?
Time will tell. No, seriously I don’t think any business plan ever became reality. For a business success it is more important to see how your clients react and to predict their needs before they even know them. But my personal dream for the next 10 years is to grow step by step, making good products and making people happy.
What does self care mean to you?
Very important! I need a balance of routine and adventure. This is the reason why I’m constantly searching for little challenges in my personal life. When you master them, it makes you stronger and even if you fail you learn much about yourself. I never make compromises in nutrition and sleep. And I never skip a workout. That’s absolutely important to me. Even if I’m ill or weak I do it regularly with reduced weight or no weight. It helps me to keep in touch with my mind and body. I also spend at least one month a year in Italy. I would die without Italian sun, people and food.
Have you had to make any pivots to survive the pandemic?
Not being able to see people face to face meant I had to pivot to online only. I hate doing everything online or by phone and I hope we soon can travel and see each other again.