It has been a while since the last episode of Building A Watch Brand. In fact, that was a full month before the big launch, which took place on March 7th. As you may have gathered elsewhere, the VPC Type 37HW presale was a success, meeting the threshold number of sales over the first weekend. It wasn’t smooth sailing, though! A lot has happened since, so an update from my end is long overdue. 

Production is now in full swing, and the prototypes received some crucial updates. All in all, there’s plenty to cover. Let’s dive in!

The presale of the VPC Type 37HW

The presale was just about the most nerve-racking thing I have ever done in my life. For about a week prior, I could hardly sleep. I was nervous because, although I have had great exposure here on Fratello, success was far from a sure thing. Two years ago, almost any release was met with an instant sell-out. The market isn’t like that anymore. Also, my watch sits in a very atypical segment for a microbrand, and I made a couple of not-so-commercial choices in concept and design to stay true to my taste. Those three things made me increasingly anxious as March 7th crept closer. Was I heading off a cliff? Or was I days away from running my dream watch company?

VPC Type 37HW Dove Grey

March 7th did not bring much relief. Yes, VPC was off to an amazing start. Several major media titles published their content exactly at the embargo time of 14:00 CET. My website flooded with traffic, and several dozen watches were sold in minutes. But then sales slowed down. It looked like I wouldn’t make the threshold to start production (not to be confused with the break-even point, which is still far in the future). 

The watch received a great response from the media and many collectors and aficionados, especially those who handled a prototype. Of course, there were also critics and detractors, but that was to be expected as mine is perhaps not an easy, crowd-pleasing concept. Besides, every watch release gets harshly criticized nowadays; it comes with the territory. Some snarky comments and the thought that I would fail did put me in a rather dark place for a moment. Luckily, orders kept coming in slowly but steadily. After the first weekend, it was clear that it would be enough to push through. I could initiate production and just leave the presale window open. It isn’t an overnight success, but slow and steady wins the race.

VPC Type 37HW Forest Green on wrist

Giving the go-ahead on production

With the crucial threshold met, I could give the go-ahead on production. This is a huge weight off my shoulders. I can now take my time to sell the remaining presale slots while everything is underway. At the time of writing, all suppliers are still perfectly on course to deliver within the promised 7–10 months after launch. At this point, it seems we are headed for a November delivery, which I am ecstatic about. 

If, like me previously, you have never done anything like this, you may not realize how challenging it is to meet such deadlines. Running a production process with multiple interdependent suppliers is complicated under the best circumstances. As a complete newcomer who is painfully low on suppliers’ priority lists, it is extremely tough. It requires constant checking in and applying just the right amount of pressure. Too little, and you get overlooked; too much, and you overstep. 

Luckily, I spent a lot of effort upfront finding suppliers who share my enthusiasm and drive. If I felt I had to chase quotes and deadlines before, I moved on. The result is that I now have a group of suppliers around me who seem eager to perform. A lot can still happen, but so far, so good! I notice this aspect is often underestimated and easily criticized. Simply put, there are only two ways to avoid such lead times. One is to sell a watch made largely or completely of off-the-shelf parts. The other is to have massive financial backing to allow production before launch.

VPC Type 37HW case flank update

The new case flank (left) and the old one

Updates to the VPC Type 37HW prototypes

Although the prototypes were very close to the final production watches, some parts still required work. As I promised on the product pages, the green dial and the case flank would be improved. Starting with the green dial, its applied solid lumeblock indices came out slightly translucent. This revealed the texture underneath, resulting in a slightly spotty look. I wanted the indices to match the hands perfectly, so we set out to improve them.

The old green dial (left) and v2 with a more opaque solid lume compound. V3 is underway, with the white lacquer added to the underside.

In the end, the cadranier (dial maker) succeeded in making the compound more opaque. However, the C3 Super-LumiNova green markers still weren’t quite as solid as the white BGW9 ones on the gray and blue dials. Finally, we found that the solution was to apply a white lacquer to the underside of the markers. As you can imagine, this is a tiny stripe of white lacquer, applied by hand, that nobody will ever see. The resulting indices, however, are perfectly even pale green. It is an effort that is well worth it if you ask me. Additionally, the compound of the markers has been purified on all three colors to shine even brighter than the prototypes. 

Simultaneously, we worked with the case maker to improve the crown-side case flank. On Max Resnick’s original design, the conical crown sat inside the case flank. This gave a neatly integrated look, resembling very shallow crown guards. The prototype cases did not quite match this look, so we decided to tweak them some more. The cut-out in the flank now echoes the shape of the crown, and the oversized screw-in tube sits deeper to allow the crown with its newly shortened stem to come in closer. The result is a more stabilized crown and a much more cohesive look. I am delighted to report we managed all updates without causing delays. Note: the images here still feature the old case, but all production models will feature the new case.

What is next for VPC?

While the watches are in production, plenty of other work remains. Naturally, I am working on the packaging and certificates. These have to be ready well ahead of time as the last thing I want is to postpone delivery when the watches themselves are ready. I am also working on more exposure outside of Fratello and more content to share. After all, there is still all to fight for. The prototypes have been on something of a world tour ever since I received them, which will result in more external reviews soon. 

VPC Type 37HW Forest Green

Type 37HW in Forest Green with the old translucent prototype lumeblock indices

Next, I am looking into partnering with independent watchmakers as service agents. The aim is to stock a handful of trusted service points globally with decades’ worth of spare parts over the coming years. This should alleviate some people’s worries about the future serviceability of a small-scale watch company’s watches. This is a long-term project requiring a lot of research and investment, but it is a key priority within the first five years of VPC. 

Lastly, I am preparing plans for the second model, a VPC diver. This will be a slightly larger, automatic model in the design language we set with the Type 37HW. I have secured an extension of my business loans to provide some air, but I need to be a little further along with Type 37HW sales before we can commence the design stage. This is one for 2025, then. Right now, my full focus is on following through and over-delivering with the Type 37HW. 

VPC Type 37HW Dove Grey pocket shot

Closing thoughts

The past several months have been extremely intense. I have to admit I underestimated the psychological side of it. Putting everything on the line and letting it come down to a single moment like this is quite taxing. Learning to deal with unsolicited input and detractors also takes a little time. I always have to remind myself that everyone stepping into the arena will get tomatoes flung at them.

But I am over the moon that VPC is now truly up and running. I am so proud to be wearing my creation and to see people from all over the world spend their hard-earned money on an object that I willed into existence. It is a humbling experience that fills me with determination to repay them later this year with the best watch I can make.

As always, thank you for tagging along! It is a privilege to share this journey with you!

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