There are plenty of self-help books and motivational gurus out there that will tell you success is an attitude. You just need to act a certain way and dress and present yourself a certain way for the wonderous riches of the world to fall into your lap.
Life has unfortunately taught me that it’s not quite as easy as that. I’ve found more that success cultivates the attitude, not the other way around. Unfortunately for my already wavering self-esteem, SevenFriday very much disagrees – and their watches speak a hell of a lot louder than I ever could.
You’ll have seen SevenFriday about; there’s no way you could miss them. They’re a veritable tour de force on Instagram, enough to put most of the watch industry to shame; plus they’re loved by fashionistas and serious watch collectors alike. What’s more, they even seem frustratingly unable to put a foot wrong.
So, what’s their secret? It’s not much of one really. It’s the exact one those hundreds of motivational speakers spout at every opportunity: attitude.
What do you see when you look at most watch brands? A few nice watches, sure, with maybe a few genuinely iconic pieces here or there. You might see their name on billboards behind Simon Baker feeding a horse or George Clooney being… George Clooney. You’ll see them timekeeping at Wimbledon, too. Look at SevenFriday and you’ll see a tattooed, bearded chap smoking a cigar, wearing a watch inspired by Queen Victoria’s personal train. Probably while hot rod racing. They’re as well-versed in conformity as I am the rules and tactics of American football. As you can imagine, that’s not very well. Not very well at all.
Just look at their watches. Ever since the first P1/01 back in September of 2012 SevenFriday have had a unique look. Their cushion-shaped cases are nicely bulky and fit with dials somewhere between an art installation and an industrial accident, all the while showing flashes of the movements inside.
It’s a style that’s evolved over time with various versions inspired by the steampunk industrialisation of the railways (the Q2/03 Choo Choo), vintage sailing yachts (the P3/06 Yacht Club) and most symbolically the uncompromising nonconformity of punk rock. If you want a nice, classical dress watch please go somewhere far, far away.
That, however, is just it. There are more dress watches out there than you can shake a stick made of money at and after a while they become much of a muchness. The same with diving watches – there’s only so many submariners you can see before they all blur together. Try finding something else like a SevenFriday.
Now, it might seem like I’m lauding the merits of SevenFriday a little too much. You might be right; I own a few myself so a tiny amount of bias is natural. But the key to SevenFriday’s success isn’t just that they stand out from the crowd – it’s that they’re not even competing with them.
What I mean is a SevenFriday is not there as a replacement for a Patek Philippe. They are not feats of extraordinary haute horlogerie. They keep time with decent Swiss movements, of course, but they are not a watchmaker in the traditional sense. The key difference between SevenFriday and numerous others of their ilk out there is that they don’t pretend to be. Most SevenFridays are around £1,000 – £1,500 and they’re worth it. They might look insane but complication-wise they’re incredibly simple, with nary a chronograph in sight. Where other watchmakers invest time, effort and ludicrous sums of money in revolutionising the balance spring, SevenFriday just carries on with their borderline insane designs.
It’s not just the prices that are accessible, however. SevenFriday has styled themselves as a lifestyle brand as much as a watchmaker. When they launched the M1/04 Punk Rock they did so at the legendary 100 Club with a Colt 45 gig. It wasn’t about the watch, it was just lovers of the brand having one hell of a good time in a dark, dingy club.
The same of course goes with the SevenFriday Space in Jakarta. Yes, it’s branded and there are plenty of watches to look at, but the focus is just on food, drinks and having a good time. More than any other watchmaker could hope to, when you buy a SevenFriday you buy into more than a brand; you buy into a lifestyle.
Speaking of which, if you needed any more convincing about SevenFriday’s nonconformist attitude, just look at their latest release, the P3/07 Kuka III. In a pumpkin orange fitting for the season, it’s the third iteration of the brand’s successful robot watches. In a limited edition of 750 though, I wish you luck getting your hands on one.
Still, when talking about why SevenFriday created the new watch, CEO Dan Niederer said something that pretty much sums up the brand: “Why not?” Now that’s a winning attitude…