A Love of Watches
A few years ago, I started to feature campaigns relating to menswear and great design on The Man Has Style. Called Kickstart Monday, it was a great way of sharing those inspiring finds on Kickstarter and helping the designers get the word out there for their passion. Back then, it was fairly quiet in menswear, so much so that I struggled to find great campaigns – but the ones I did find were fantastic! Now in 2016, I am seeing more success with the crowd funding campaigns. As more people saw success from these campaigns they realised it was a way they could fund their projects. In turn more people looked at it as a serious option to get things moving. I find it such a wonderful avenue for designers to get their work out there to a global audience. It’s by no means an easy way of doing it and there is a huge amount of work that goes into launching a campaign, not to mention all the marketing and PR to go with it. I take my hat off to all those who venture down this path, it’s a challenge, but a challenge that is so wonderful to be an option for so many. I’m often contacted by designers who are launching campaigns in the future.
If you have been following The Man Has Style over the years, you may know from past stories and interviews, I am particularly fond of timepieces and when I see a watch about to launched, I like to look closer and talk to those involved. When combined with a reference to one of my favourite places in the world, and one I grew up around, the Great Ocean Road, I had to find out more! Jesse Cusworth, co-founder Zion Manufacturing Company and The Apollo Watch, which will be launching on Kickstarter soon had a chat to me about the up and coming release.
Exclusive Q&A with Jesse Cusworth, Co-Founder, Zion Manufacturing Company
TMHS: I’m a huge fan of watches – actually, all forms of keeping time! For you though Jesse, why watches? What do you love about these timepieces?
JC: For me, watches are the men’s equivalent of expensive shoes, or jewellery. The options are endless, there are so many amazing watches available and there really isn’t any limit in what is able to be created. I love that a watch makes you feel something, it could be nostalgia; a piece that’s been passed down your family. It could be adventure; a rugged versatile dive watch, or it could be an obscure piece that gives the owner a sense of indifference. It’s amazing that one accessory, can fuel so many emotions and memories.
TMHS: The design is quite beautiful, what inspired you to design The Apollo watch?
JC: The inspiration for the Apollo came from a number of things. First of all, I really love classic, elegant timepieces, I really wanted to create something timeless and versatile. The Tourbillon movement is incredibly complex and intricate, I wanted to create something simple and classic which would contradict, but also compliment the Tourbillon movement. The design is also heavily inspired by life on the Great Ocean Road. The road itself if amazing intricate in design and engineering, but the lifestyle down here is relaxed and laid back. I felt that the design and concept of the Apollo really incorporated those ideas. It’s simple by looks, but complex by design.
TMHS: Tell me more of the features of The Apollo, especially the Tourbillon and the Kangaroo Leather and why these are important to the overall design and quality of the watch.
JC: The Tourbillon is not something that a start-up company has endeavoured to do before. When starting the original designs of the Apollo, using the Tourbillon seemed like a distant dream. After a few months of research, I eventually found that the Tourbillon movement was genuinely within my reach and that it wasn’t necessary to spend tens-of-thousands of dollars to experience the complexity of the Tourbillon. The Kangaroo leather is also something that I haven’t seen before from any watch brand, let alone a start-up. I’ve seen Kangaroo leather used for a variety of souvenirs and other products, but I really wanted to show the world the high quality of Kangaroo Leather. It’s soft, yet rugged and has 10 times the tensile strength of any cow-hide leather. It sits comfortably and really moulds to the shape of the owner’s wrist. The Eastern Grey Kangaroo is a staple of the Great Ocean Road, and we’ve used their leather as another reminder of our amazing part of the world.
TMHS: I love you have the Great Ocean Road as an inspiration for the collection. I grew up in this area and the coastline is one of the most beautiful places in the world. How does this area relate to you?
JC: You’re exactly right, the Great Ocean Road, and entire Surf Coast is truly one of the most beautiful places in the world. I’m lucky enough to have grown up on the Surf Coast, and continue to live down here. I used to spend my time adventuring through bushland on my bike and going searching for secret beaches. These days, I spend my weekends surfing the beaches along the Great Ocean Road, and enjoying the cafes, food and produce that the Surf Coast has to offer. The lifestyle down here is so laid back and relaxed. When starting this project, I really just wanted people to experience a piece of the Surf Coast for themselves. The Apollo is not only representative of the awesome views, secret beaches and iconic landmarks, but of the lifestyle lived down here.
TMHS: You are launching on Kickstarter soon. Over the years I have written about many Kickstarter campaigns. What are you wanting to achieve from this crowd funding and what can people expect?
JC: I’m really looking forward to launching this Kickstarter Campaign and letting everyone experience the Apollo for themselves. Obviously, producing a watch as complex as a Tourbillon requires is a large amount of work and investment, especially when considering minimum order quantities, manufacturing fees, etc. Therefore; the funding goal for the Kickstarter campaign will put the Apollo into production, deliver an amazingly high quality product to my supporters and help start Zion’s journey into becoming an established watch company. People can expect to receive their Apollo and be overwhelmed with the quality and design of the Apollo. They can also expect the Apollo to be the first of many watches released by Zion Manufacturing Company.
TMHS: How did you concept your design? Being a designer myself and having worked in many different areas of design, I found that I would work in different ways depending on what I was designing. Do you find yourself drawing by hand ideas or are you quite technical in your approach?
JC: The Apollo came about through a number of approaches. I generally spend a lot of time designing in photoshop and illustrator for my other projects, but for the Apollo, there were often aspects that i couldn’t express very well digitally. I had to use a culmination of my skills to truly express my ideas and communicate them to my manufacturing partner. This included drawings, texture examples, meetings and notes scrawled on scraps of paper, generally in the middle of the night. Designing the Apollo definitely pushed the limits of my skills, but also helped me to become a better designer in the process. There are things that I’ve learned through the process, that i’ll do differently next time, I never want to become complacent as a designer, and will continue to develop my skills and push boundaries.
TMHS: How can people sign up to be notified when the campaign is launched on Kickstarter? Also your website and social media links.
JC: All updates on our Kickstarter campaign will be released through our mailing list. A sign-up form is available through our website www.zionmanufacturingcompany.com, we’ll only be releasing the exact time and date of the release via the mailing list, this gives our subscribers the best chance of getting an early-bird slot at $999USD. We’ll be releasing other details about the campaign via www.facebook.com/Zionmanufacturingcompany and our Instagram @zionmanufacturingcompany
UPDATE: The Kickstart Campaign is now LIVE!! Show your support – https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1337913330/the-apollo-automatic-tourbillon-watch-surf-coast-a