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HK Watches’ founder sets sights on becoming the world’s most individual premium brand

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Named after Alain Kobler’s late grandfather, Hermann Kobler Watches, also referred to as HK, was born out of a passion and fascination for the Swiss-watchmaking tradition.

With an urge to become a part of what he describes as a brilliant industry, Alain enhanced his knowledge studying business at University while earning extra money in one of the most well-renowned watch retailers in the country.

Based out of his hometown, Lucerne, the brand is located right in the centre of one of the largest selling hotspots for exquisite, world-class timepieces although it was an observation of this and the young tourists flocking to the area that sparked the idea for HK.

Kobler describes how due to the incomparable selection of luxury watches, customers from all around the world head to the city to purchase a watch but many of them, specifically those of a younger generation, sometimes struggle to go away completely happy and satisfied with their experience and purchase.

He explains: “Often, they would find themselves stuck between different models as they preferred a specific dial of one watch but desired the case or the watch strap of another one. Further, the high price often was an issue.

“The intriguing exchanges and memorable discussions with customers brought me to a so far unsolved issue which inspired me to create a product that would fulfill the increasing demand for customisation. Since the different components are not easily interchangeable, the customer was forced to make a decision. The idea for the HK Watch was born.”

The issues raised here also brought forward a number of problems which had not been solved yet for Alain. Firstly, the statement of quality as well as the design appearance of these offered watches were not in line with his standards. Secondly, Kobler says there was a remaining lack of customisation and respond to customer’s needs.

He elaborates: “To solve the first problem, the design of the HK Watch stands with its simple lines as an homage to some of the great classic designs of the Swiss watch industry. The high-quality standard of the watch is also be portrayed in its design. In order to create an outstanding timepiece, it was essential that the heart of the watch is produced in Switzerland. Therefore, a cooperation with a local movement producer was established.

Adding: “The same counts for the assemblage and the last control of the watch which is done in Southern Switzerland to ensure excellent quality and precision.”

The more challenging part though was when Alain and his team were faced with the second problem of ensuring a high level of customisation. In a timespan of over one and a half years, Kobler, alongsided a Lucerne-based watchmaker, created a unique mechanism they say challenges the status quo in two ways.

Firstly, it allows the customer to not only exchange the watch strap but go a step further by enabling the watch owner to exchange the entire face in accordance to the specific occasion the watch is intended to be worn to.

Secondly, it opens up a new way of customisation and an easy way to adjust your watch for each occasion and fashion trend. In other words, there are no limitations and countless variations of how a watch can be customised to become unique.

“I personally think, it’s a fun way to easily adapt the appearance of your timepiece and try maybe more daring colour combinations,” he comments.

With help from a local watchmaker to develop a mechanism to change the dial and after many hours of prototype development, the first Hermann Kobler collection, the Nautic Timer 01, was born,

On what makes a HK watch unique, Alain details: “The Hermann Kobler Watch consists of three individual components: the case, the TIME CAPSULA, and the bracelet/strap. The introduction of a modular system allows an extensive customisation of the watches according to specific needs.

“The TIME CAPSULA is a self-contained and closed watch system consisting of a Swiss quartz movement, as well as the dial, hands, crown. Each TIME CAPSULA gives the Nautic 01 wearer a completely different look, different hands, colours, and indexes. With only a gentle push of your fingertips any TIME CAPSULA can be inserted into or released from a Nautic Timer 01 case, and voila the Nautic Timer 01 has a totally new look.”

Regarding the details and intricacies, all HK timepieces are Swiss Made and are powered by the Swiss Made RONDA powertech calibre 502 quartz movement.

Cases are currently available in silver, PVD rose gold or PVD titanium while the Nautic Timer 01 has a diameter of 40.5 mm (a 36 mm case will be available later this year), a lug-to-lug measurement of 53mm, and a thickness of 5.36mm. The TIME CAPSULA is currently offered with a white, green, blue, or black dial, with Roman or Arabic numerals or plain indexes.

Looking to the future on both a short and long term basis and to meet the demand for individualisation, HK is pursuing the vision of becoming the world’s most individual premium watch brand.

Kobler explains: “In order to achieve our vision, we focus our efforts to establish our brand in a first step on the European and in a second step on the global market. In the first instance, modern marketing measures such as influencers and social media are used to open up the market for us.

Concluding: “However, traditional sales channels, whether online or offline in specialist shops, will also play a central role. This comes as the modular system encourages the customer to try and play with the mechanism as well as the different options in reality and not solely with help of our configurator. In that sense, retailer channels will be a crucial point for us to sell our watches through.”

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