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For Zeitwinkel, the right angle has 273°

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June 2015


What does it take for a small, independent watch brand to succeed? One is a producing a quality watch. The other is approaching the business from the right angle.

All brands have an angle. For some, the angle is maximizing profit through volume and pricing at low profit margins. For others, it’s producing limited edition collections that come with a hefty price tag. Whatever the business angle of a brand, all of them have a marketing angle as well. This is particularly important for the new, challenger brands. The inclination is that usually they need to sell some kind of story - and not just the timepiece – in order to differentiate themselves.

For the relatively young brand Zeitwinkel - it was conceived in 2006 - the angle is time… literally. Zeitwinkel translates to “time-angle”, and the philosophy of the brand is to produce high quality timepieces that are a great value over time. They don’t necessarily over-produce or under-produce for their size.

Quality Production

The fabrication of the majority of Zeitwinkel watch components – including the movements –happens in Switzerland. For the few components that the brand does not produce in-house, they rely on traditional mid-sized family businesses hailing from the watch-making regions of Southern Germany.

Zeitwinkel 273° model watch
Zeitwinkel 273° model watch

As a result of their focused approach, Zeitwinkel currently offers eight different models, which come in two sizes: the “Midsize” collection (39mm diameter) and the “Classic” collection (42.5mm diameter). All dials have a special galvanic coating that produces the characteristic black, silver, rhodium and blue coloured shades which are unique to the brand.

Their watches are equipped with exclusively manufactured movements - the ZW 0102 and ZW 0103 – both of which are constructed with German silver plates. In fact, the ZW0103 movement was specifically developed for their flagship model 273°, which was released in 2015. It offers a semi-integrated date module, reserve power display (72 hours), a self-winding feature, and a large date display with quickset feature.

The benefits of independence

Because the company is independently owned, it does not respond to the usual pressures to produce high volumes of timepieces. As a result, it can focus on quality manufacturing. This results in a relatively low annual output of timepieces, usually in low four-digit figures.

Zeitwinkel 273° model watch
Zeitwinkel 273° model watch

Another benefit of having no corporate affiliation is that the two co-founders - Prof. Ivica Maksimovic & Peter Nikolaus - have more control over the direction of their company. They are watch enthusiasts first and foremost. They look to implement their designs and to produce watches that last a lifetime, rather than standing out only through glamour and marketing.

But that’s not to say that the duo have no business savvy. Ivica Maksimovic has a professorship in communication design. As a marathon runner, Maksimovic is also well aware that succeeding in the watch industry requires competitiveness, and a bit of a sense of humour. He is all too aware of the challenge ahead. But he also knows that it’s a marathon and not a sprint:

“Zeitwinkel inspires me alone because of the endurance that a mechanical watch so ideally represents. Of course, our customers still won’t be able to save the world with their Zeitwinkel watch, but it does symbolize at least that its owners make very deliberate decisions.”

Zeitwinkel 273° model watch
Zeitwinkel 273° model watch

For his part, co-founder Peter Nikolaus has been in the business of watches for over a decade, distributing high quality watches throughout Asia and North America. He agrees that integrity and a substance are important for success:

“For me, the most important thing right from the start was to create an honest product and make a clear commitment with our philosophy. No high gloss, no unnecessary sparkle, and you are still allowed to use your head.”

Being a small, independent watch brand is sometimes a selling point. Customers like the exclusivity. Sometimes they even like cheering for the underdog. But those sentiments alone are not enough. The question is whether the brand has an independent philosophy, and then whether that philosophy is implemented. In the case of Zeitwinkel, it seems like that’s the case. With their grounded business focus and quality designs, Nikolaus & Maksimovic seem to be looking at the watch world from the right angle. (VJ)