Fashion

SevenFriday for the Indian millennial

SevenFriday’s first store in the country in Mumbai brings their industrial-inspired watches and sunglasses to an aspirational generation. Founder Daniel Niederer talks about his retail and expansion plans for India

When Daniel Niederer, Swiss CEO and founder of SevenFriday (7F), launched the brand with the P series in 2012, the stock was sold out within four months. He initially produced only 1,000 watches but such was the demand that he ended up selling 12,000 pieces in the first year. This hype was attributed to its unusual visual complications, accessible price points and a strong presence on social media. “You’d think it was part of a marketing strategy but honestly, we used social media because we didn’t have a lot of money,” he says. “The platforms helped us communicate our message clearly and connect with a global audience.”

Their first experiential space in India sits among a cluster of small shops. Launched last week, it opens directly on to a sidewalk facing bustling MG Road in Fort, Mumbai. The Switzerland-based global lifestyle brand, however, manages to stand out in the heritage precinct with its neon-glow signage (‘Show me, don’t tell me’), quirky graffiti art and a showcase of eclectic watches, sunglasses and bracelets.

SevenFriday’s (7F) first experiential space in India sits among a cluster of small shops. Launched last week, it opens directly on to a sidewalk facing bustling MG Road in Fort, Mumbai. The Switzerland-based global lifestyle brand, however, manages to stand out in the heritage precinct with its neon-glow signage (‘Show me, don’t tell me’), quirky graffiti art and a showcase of eclectic watches, sunglasses and bracelets. Their designs are inspired by industrial elements like copper pipes, jumper cables and analogue audio recorders. Photo: Emmanual Yogini
Many traditional Swiss watchmakers may scoff at this non-exclusive setting for a luxury store but Daniel Niederer remains unperturbed. “I want to make this space inclusive, so we haven’t even used a door. As a young brand (launched in 2012), we’re liberated of legacies and conventions,” says the 49-year-old Swiss CEO and founder, who has been in the business of luxury watches for over 15 years. The brand’s moniker is a modern interpretation of the Latin aphorism ‘carpe diem’ or ‘seize the day’, resonating with its spirit of living each day as if it’s a Friday. Photo: Emmanual Yogini
The team is currently working on procuring an F&B licence so that the Mumbai store can join the list of 17 gastro-retail concept stores — dubbed SevenFriday Spaces — that have cropped up in Jakarta, Taipei, Dubai, Singapore and Kuala Lumpur, among other locations, since 2016. Here, you can relish rice bowls, savour artisanal coffee or pair hot chocolate with dessert while perusing the timepieces. “We don’t want people to think they can approach us only when they want to buy our products,” Niederer reasons. “The idea is to build a connection with like-minded people.” Photo: Special Arrangement
Niederer’s unorthodox thinking also reflects in the edgy product designs and unconventional promotional strategies. The 7F watches are large, about 47mm to 49mm, and have bold ‘squircle’ (an intermediate between a square and a circle) dials that are a throwback to the television sets of the 1950s. Photo: Special Arrangement
The designs feature an interplay of traditional and modern elements. For instance, the V3/01 watch is an ode to speedometers. With multi-level grey steel plates on the dial, the M3/01 model resembles a futuristic spaceship. The M2/02, a popular choice for Indians, we’re told, is inspired by the copper pipes integral to the industrial revolution. Models with denim straps, hand-painted pieces and a limited-edition customised for India with green, orange and white components and the number ‘12’ designed in Devanagari script are also part of the 7F roster. Photo: Special Arrangement
In a span of about seven years, 7F has forayed into 91 countries with 700 points of sale. In 2014, their watches arrived in India at luxury watch boutiques in the metros. This year, Niederer also plans to retail in non-metros like Pune, Bhubaneswar and Chandigarh. Later this year, the Mumbai store will also stock caps, hoodies and T-shirts. Internationally, the apparel is designed by artist Tomyboy of Rocketbyz. A collaboration with a local designer is also on the cards. Niederer plans to launch a new ‘T’ series of watches in September but refuses to divulge details. “I don’t want to produce in mass volumes. Our exclusivity lies in the number of pieces we make,” is all he adds. Any plans to launch models designed specifically for women? Niederer laughs, “I’m a guy. I don’t understand women!” On a more serious note, “It’s difficult to crack the designs but we’re working on it.”
While the watches are made in China, they contain movements from Japan. The prices range from ₹88,000 to ₹1.5 lakh. Interestingly, each piece has an NFC (near-field communication) chip that can be scanned via the 7F mobile app to register its ownership and access warranty details. “The chip also helps identify our watches from the fakes in the market,” adds Niederer. With prices starting from ₹23,000, the sunglasses are chip-enabled, too. Photo: Special Arrangement

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