Marcella dolan stella watches
Marcella Dolan, Stella Watch Company.

Q&A: Next steps for Stella Watch Company

Creativity and business acumen collide to deliver a potent cocktail for the fledgling watch brand.

Stella Watch Company is a New York based independent brand, founded in 2019 by co-owners Marcella Dolan and Stephen Rowley, who both have many years of experience in the watch industry.

Dolan gave WatchPro some of her time to explain how the brand came to be and what the next steps look like for a growing company.

WatchPro: What possessed you to create your own watch brand in the first place?

Marcella Dolan: Starting my own watch business was a natural evolution of my passion for designing watches and my desire to create something truly unique and special. With over 25 years of experience in watch design and a background as an artist, I have always approached a watch as more than just a timekeeping device – I see it as a canvas for artistic impression.

Throughout my career, I have had the opportunity to work with various watch brands and gain valuable insights into the industry. However, I felt a strong calling to channel my creativity and vision into a brand that reflected my artistic ethos. By starting my own watch brand I could fully embrace the role of creator and bring my distinctive perspective to the world of horology.

As an artist, I view watches as wearable art, and each piece I create is a testament to my dedication to pushing the boundaries of design. No element of the watch is excluded from the overall design consideration, from the crown and buckle to the tip of the second hand. The selection of each component’s shape, color, texture, etc. is meticulously curated to contribute to the holistic design of the watch. It is a quality, I believe, that defines the uniqueness of Stella.

Additionally, having my own watch business allows me to create a more personal and direct connection with my customers, something I missed in the corporate world. I wanted to create an intimate experience where enthusiasts and collectors could appreciate the thought and creativity behind each piece.

This personalized approach is not feasible within a larger company structure, and starting my own business was the ideal way to connect with a community that shared my passion for horology and design.

Stella ellis blue cuff

WatchPro: What made you do it in partnership with Stephen [Rowley]? What are your respective backgrounds?

Marcella Dolan: Choosing to partner with Stephen was an easy decision based on the recognition of the complementary strengths we bring to the table. While my passion and background lie in the creative realm of watch design, Stephen possesses a brilliant business mind that perfectly balances the equation. His ability to navigate the financial aspects, marketing strategies, and operational intricacies has proven invaluable in establishing and sustaining our business.

Together we form a dynamic duo where my creativity finds a solid foundation in Stephen’s business acumen. But underneath all that, our shared passion for horology forms the base of our partnership and creates a synergy that goes beyond professional collaboration. We can both say that we actually love what we do.

WatchPro: What makes Stella different from other watch brands?

Marcella Dolan: Stella stands apart from other watch brands in that every piece we develop embodies over a quarter-century of experience in the watch industry, drawing on my understanding of

craftsmanship, precision, and the artistry of watch design. Not many start-ups can match this depth of knowledge.

Beyond this, Stella offers a unique perspective by incorporating a rare female point of view into our designs, challenging an industry often dominated by male sensibilities. This female approach can be a nuanced appreciation for color and detail, a desire for of harmony and balance, and a heightened awareness of diversity and inclusivity.

Take, for example, our thoughtfully designed watch straps, available in both longer and shorter versions to ensure comfortable wear for individuals with smaller wrists. These additional details reflect Stella’s dedication to providing a personalized experience.

From inception, our commitment was unwavering – to deliver something genuinely unique and exceptional to our customers, and I firmly believe we are doing that.

Stella ellis black mirror

WatchPro: How would you describe the typical Stella customer?

Marcella Dolan: Stella’s customers are a diverse group, including both men and women who span varying age groups. What sets them apart is their shared appreciation for watches that blend functionality with beautiful design.

Their appreciation for timepieces goes beyond simple timekeeping; they want a watch that reflects careful craftsmanship and aesthetic appeal. Whether someone is a seasoned watch collector or a first-time buyer, Stella customers value the intricacies that go into creating a watch, making their choice about style and design rather than just a tool to wear on the wrist.

WatchPro: How do you see your company evolving over time? Do you think you’ll explore new channels to market, like wholesaling via authorised watch retailers?

Marcella Dolan: Looking ahead, the evolution of our company lies with our desire to maintain the uniqueness that defines Stella.

Unlike the constraints of mass production, where designs are tailored to the masses, Stella thrives on the concept of crafting a select number of special models each year. Our vision involves preserving the personal approach to watchmaking, ensuring every piece remains a distinctive, well-thought-out design rather than a mass-produced commodity.

By focusing on smaller production runs, we aim to continue offering our customers something truly special – timepieces that stand out for their beauty, craftsmanship, and the ability to resonate with those who appreciate a more personalized experience in the world of watches.

Stella ellis caseback

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