What do you look for when you shop for a watch?
For myself, I don’t. I have something of a phobia of clocks and watches, and anything that reminds me that time is ticking by. It drives me insane, like Captain Hook (or was he more afraid of the crocodile?).
In any event, while I don’t wear a watch, I have shopped for plenty of watches in my time for friends and family, and I’m often struck by how inordinately expensive they can be, especially when you consider that your phone will happily tell you the time for no cost at all (and without that awful ticking sound). There seems to be a disconnect between quality, price and design where watches are concerned, with consumers rarely able to find a watch that ticks all three boxes.
Canberra Grammar student Riley Tanton clearly thought so himself when he established his company Millennial Watches. At just 17 years of age, Tanton has not only built his business from the ground up, but he has done so by creating a line of beautifully styled high-quality watches which he sells for just $59.70 AUD. What’s more,Tanton donates a percentage from the sale of every watch to charity.
Now as I have already made clear, watches sort of give me the creeps, but even I have to admit that the Millennial Watches line has style in spades. The design is beautifully pared back in a gorgeous minimalist face, the size is perfectly balanced and not clunky or cumbersome, and the straps are in a high quality leather that is simply crafted. Millennial Watches are elegant in design in a way that will always look fresh and stylish, for a man or a woman.
The specifications of the watches are of a very high quality as well. The movements are Japanese, and the batteries last for around 3 years. High grade leather is used for the bands, making them not just stylish, but comfortable to wear. The watches are beautifully presented in a black box and carefully fastened around a square pillow, not just to protect the watch, but to enhance the beauty of the display.
After hearing Fashfest managing director Clint Hutchinson speak at Canberra Grammar about his own entrepreneurial pursuits, Tanton followed the advice Clint had just given to grab any opportunity that presents itself, and asked if he would wear one of the Millennial Watches designs to Fashfest 2016. A smart move, as Clint said yes, and Millennial made their first red carpet debut on the wrist of arguably the most-watched man at Fashfest, if not in Canberra.
And smart is inherently what Millennial Watches is. Not only are we talking about a 17 year-old starting his own online business, but a young entrepreneur who had the foresight and skill to use crowd funding in order to raise the initial funds for his business outlays. Furthermore, Tanton has shown incredible business acumen in researching every aspect of his business, including the manufacturer. Fighting through the potential issues of language barriers, he selected a Chinese manufacturer, but only after he investigated each step of the process, looked at photos of the plant, and organised a skype-tour to be able to ensure that the workplace was clean, organised and safe.
And as soon as he has the funds, Tanton plans to visit the factory in China.
It is very easy to get discouraged with the world of design and fast fashion. But with talented young minds like Riley Tanton working hard to find beautiful and affordable solutions to design problems, and doing so with sensitivity to issues like the conditions of those making the product (while larger, established companies remain oblivious); I think that there is always hope for the industry. And with the announcement of new support from the Fashfest team in the form of mentoring, I can envisage a very bright future for design here in Canberra.
And what is important now is to support them. It’s not every day that you read about such an impressive young entrepreneur, let alone one that is operating in your home-city (while finishing high school, no less).
Currently Millennial Watches offers six styles in their collection, with a seventh on the cards for when business goals are met (the Royal, above, which even I am lusting after, fear of watches and all). You can purchase your own watch through the website, and for the humble price of $59.70, why wouldn’t you?