Weird Ape, a watch company created by two Yorkshire-based entrepreneurs, is expecting to be stocked by around 100 stores by Christmas after it signed an agency agreement with ALM distribution.
The company, now in its third year, started life producing ubiquitous Scandi-design quartz watches, but discovered the market for the sub-£100 watches saturated and re-focused its efforts on skeletonised mechanical pieces.
Using Chinese-made automatic movements has allowed Weird Ape to manufacture finished men’s watches that currently sell online from its own website for £159 on a range of leather straps and £169 on steel bracelets.
Minimalist quartz collections are still available, priced at under £100, but they are being outsold by the skeletonised automatics by ten-to-one, according to Weird Ape co-founder Callum McVickers.
Making the move into wholesale distribution to 100 retailers may require a re-think on price, to give retailers and middlemen a margin.
Weird Ape could smooth that transition by creating additional lines with higher prices, possibly using Japanese movements, Mr McVickers told WatchPro. He also showed a prototype for a ladies skeletonised automatic, although he did not give any indication of a launch date.
Retailers will be encouraged by the sizeable base of over 200,000 followers and fans across social media platforms where the watches are modelled by target-market men. “We don’t want to be too mainstream. You’ll see men with tattoos drinking craft coffees,” Mr McVickers said.
The company also claims to have been the first watch business in the world to deliver one of its timepieces to a customer using a drone.
More of a stunt than a business model, the company’s founder Stefan Kozikowski adapted a drone so that it could carry and release a packaged watch.
The technology was put to a test with a customer who lived down a long country track. This meant the drone could get to the house without over-flying any built up areas, which would have broken Civil Aviation Authority laws.
This sort of fresh thinking combined with mechanical watches priced to compete in the fast fashion end of the market should appeal to retailers looking to bring younger customers into stores.
There are already 20 doors committed to take the watches in September, including three Market Cross stores.
Along with a target of 100 doors by the end of the year, Weird Ape is also looking for international distribution, particularly in Germany where it already has strong ecommerce sales and social media reach.