“I am Yvo Staudt and I play the accordion. I also made a watch.” That was Yvo’s sales pitch for a long time when visiting retailers, at the beginning of Staudt Watches, in 2013. Before I jump to the new Staudt Praeludium Chronograph, first a bit more background on this young watch entrepreneur and Staudt Watches.
Playing classical music, tango and jazz on his accordion since he was 5 years old, Yvo had one dream: move to Italy and study the accordion in Pescara. The conservatory there had one of the best accordionists as a teacher: Claudio. When Yvo turned 18 he moved from The Netherlands to Italy and his music showed a lot of progress from the start. It was a dream come true.
However, after a while, Yvo felt he was alone. Alone in Italy, far away from friends and family. Life existed only about studying accordion, there was little room for anything else. That’s when he started experimenting with crafting leather goods. Etuis, pouches, and so on. Just to pass time. He became unhappy. To fight his loneliness, he found an escape in his passion for mechanical watches. Besides the accordion, he started studying mechanical watches and soon it became an obsession.
His goal was to create just a watch for himself, to wear. So he did. A mechanical watch, with a beautiful blue dial. Soon after, people started asking him about this watch. And how much it would cost to have one as well. So in 2014, he created 45 of his first watch: the Staudt Praeludium. Financed by taking a maximum student’s loan. They all sold. He reinvested the profit in his watch workshop, so there was nothing left for a next project. A pity, as he was full of new horological ideas. With the financial help of a happy customer, he was able to pursue these ideas.
Below, a video – with subtitles – in which Yvo Staudt (now 26 years old) explains how it all started.
A bit of a long introduction, but I want to introduce Yvo Staudt and his company, Staudt Watches in the best possible way before I jump to his latest introduction. Why? Simple, because I like Yvo Staudt a lot. He is one of the most genuine guys I’ve come across in the watch industry. There’s no hidden agenda, there’s no made-up story and he does this because of his genuine love for watches. Yvo is a very authentic guy, down-to-Earth and very sensible about things. He is no new Grönefeld or Van der Klaauw, nor does he pretends he is. Staudt Watches is a brand for people who can relate to his story and who likes his classic looking watches. You could say that Staudt is a microbrand, which is fine, but other than most microbrands who tend to run from project to project, Yvo Staudt is aiming for the long run. Building a brand, creating and developing watches based on his own ideas and thoughts about the industry. For example, you can’t buy his watches on-line if you are in The Netherlands. Sure you can (soon) order one online, but you will always need to go to one of the retailers who represent him.
Last week, Staudt Watches held 3 days of ‘BoekeloWorld 2018’, a nod to BaselWorld of course. Boekelo is beautiful small (population of about 2500 people) village in the east part of The Netherlands. Actually not far from where I was born, raised, went to school and where my parents still reside. Boekelo is perhaps best known for its international equestrian event (“Military Boekelo”) that is being held there every year and its history in the Dutch textile industry in the 19th and early 20th century. Staudt Watches added a small event called BoekeloWorld, to introduce their company to retailers, press and collectors, but also to show their new watches.
Hosted in the Staudt headquarters, from which Yvo operates and takes care of all design, sales and marketing efforts (watchmaking is done on another location, nearby), we were welcomed by a team of Staudt watches. Besides Yvo, there was his managing partner Loek Oprinsen, his head of sales, and Yvo’s girlfriend and mother as wonderful hostesses.
After Yvo opened the event with a beautiful performance on his accordion, he spoke to the guests about his motivation and reason to start making watches in 2013. In the video above you will get a similar explanation basically.
Interesting was one of the remarks he made about selling online and via a network of retailers. During his research on distribution, he realized that it was ‘not a nice business‘. Admitted, a lot of them had an easy business for a long time and made a lot of money. This changed when companies started to sell watches online, via their own webshops but also via marketplaces. After hoping (and some even being convinced) that the internet would go away at some point, they start to realize they needed to do something. Or not. Some traditional brick and mortar retailers became creative and re-invented themselves, you probably know some of them as they now also made ‘fame’ online. But besides the fact that end-consumers were suddenly able to see the ‘entire market’ and started shopping around online for the best price and service, a lot of brands started to squeeze their retailers to the fullest. As Yvo put it: ‘Brands come to retailers and basically slap them in their faces that they don’t sell enough and should do better, and next day the retailer needs to sell watches from this brand with a (fake) smile again to consumers. Try to stay enthusiastic when you just recovered from the slapping.’.
Yvo Staudt wants to invest in their retailer network. Retailers need to believe in a brand and watch in order to sell it with as much enthusiasm as possible. Some retailers believed in Yvo from the start, when he pitched his watches by telling them he is an accordionist and made his own watch. Others followed later. Unless you are in a country where there is no point of sale for Staudt watches, his watches will be sold via an authorized dealer (of your choice). ‘For us, online is there to support the offline business‘, as Staudt puts it. Currently, Staudt is (offline) available at official dealers in The Netherlands, Germany and Norway. More countries will soon follow. If you are in a country without a point of sale, you can still order via the webshop.
After his musical performance, the introduction of the Staudt brand, Yvo Staudt and his business partner Loek Oprinsen took us to the ‘Staudt residence’, also in Boekelo. With a number of other members of the Dutch press (we were invited on the 2nd day of their event, the German press and retailers were invited on day 3, the first day was reserved for Dutch retailers), we were transported on a traditional horse-drawn vehicle. Enjoying the countryside of The Netherlands, and enough time to discuss watches and the watch industry. After 15 minutes, we arrived at the ‘Staudt residence’, where a lunch was prepared and where the new Staudt Praeludium Chronograph was presented.
There, on one of the first warm and sunny days here in The Netherlands, the new Staudt Praeludium Chronograph collection was displayed. Three dial versions; white, blue and black. Always housed in an elegant and sleek looking 41mm case, available in stainless steel and 18-carat pink gold (not pictured). The watch case measures 51.4mm from lug to lug and the lug width is 22mm.
The watches are available on an alligator strap (with folding clasp) in a matching colour with the dial (or whatever combination you prefer). However, it is also possible to order the Staudt Praeludium Chronograph on a beautiful and heavy Milanese bracelet. Crafted in Pforzheim, Germany, this heavy-duty bracelet gives the Staudt Praeludium Chronograph a vintage look and feel. It was actually my favourite combination, as it makes the classic looking Staudt Praeludium Chronograph a bit sportier (for me). The bracelet is beautifully crafted and finished and has a Staudt signed folding clasp.
What I personally love – perhaps – best about the Staudt Praeludium Chronograph and Staudt watches in general, is the dial. Stunning two-tone dials, using lithography techniques for the markers and numerals etc., done by a company in the United Kingdom who is also responsible for the dials in certain British high-end luxury cars. You can probably guess which car makes those are. The outer part of the dial consists of 12 layers, using a vintage lithography machine. Only this way, the typical ‘Staudt blue’ colour is achieved. The centre part of the dial is being painted by hand. The leaf-shaped hands are either blued or polished, depending on the dial colour.
The watch has a thickness of 13.6mm (including the domed sapphire crystal) as it needs to house the chronograph calibre, based on ETA’s 7753 movement. However, as always in the highest grade and modified with a custom Staudt signed rotor in plated rose gold. The movement has a perlage finish on the bridges and the rotor has the famous Côtes de Geneve finishing.
The Staudt Praeludium Chronograph will retail for €2989,-. The version with Milanese bracelet will have a price tag of €3129,-. The Staudt Praeludium three-hand watches start at €2349.-. We reviewed the Praeludium hand-wound here.
Within a few weeks I will perform a hands-on review of the new Staudt Praeludium Chronograph and then you can shortly after read about my thoughts and experiences here on Fratello. The price of this new Praeludium opens a lot of options for people who are looking for a chronograph watch, as many other brands operate in this price range. I am sure you can come up with some alternatives, therefore I am curious to see how it will hold up during a wearing test. Of course, ‘specification warriors’ aside, you also buy a watch because you just love how it looks, so in the end, it will remain a matter of taste and/or about motivations for (very) personal reasons. I can’t wait.
In the meanwhile, visit the official Staudt Watches website for more information.
Ever since he was a young child, Robert-Jan was drawn to watches, even though it were digital Casio and quartz Swatch models at the time. In the mid-1990s, his interest increased when he started to read about mechanical watches in... read more