Ola E. Bernestål describes himself as a multi-passionate entrepreneur. With a master’s degree in economics, he’s run businesses focused on everything from marketing and branding to jewellery and card games.
— What it all boils down to is my enormous curiosity and passion to drive change, he says.
He started TID Watches six years ago together with Petrus Palmér, founder of contemporary furniture brand HEM and design studio Form Us With Love. The ambition was to continue the journey the latter had started; to explore the future of Scandinavian design.
— At the same time, we wanted to explore and celebrate creativity. Put those two ambitions together and TID Watches was born with a mission to explore time through products and creativity.
He describes the launch of the No.1 watch six years ago as a huge ”a-ha” moment. It sold out almost immediately and attracted huge interest from retailers and press as well as consumers. The feedback gave him a clear feeling that he’d just created something that was really missing from the market.
— It is still our best-selling watch. The No. 1 watch was designed in line with classic watches from Braun, Mondaine et al — timeless pieces created with great craftsmanship. And these values have been in focus for all product launches ever since.
— Our collection fuses a practical mindset with forward-thinking designs and we are offering timeless watches with minimal branding. Our mantra is that we’re aiming to be your faithful everyday companion, says Bernestål.
On a regular basis, the company collaborates with artists and a wide variety of other creatives in the special project, Exploring Time. They interpret both TID’s products and tid (Swedish for time) as a phenomenon. And the passion for creativity is the key differentiator between TID and other watch brands, Head of Marketing Communications My Morinder claims.
— For us, it’s all about providing the consumer with something more than simply the product. Our drive to explore time via different creative expressions comes down to offering something additional, an experience more or less. It’s an essential part of the TID brand. We’re not just creating iconic timepieces to be worn every day, we’re celebrating creativity.
The brand store at Torsgatan in Stockholm really embodies TID’s ”Scandi minimalistic” design values. Since the opening in 2014, it has been an extension of their office space as well as an important gathering place for friends and partners.
— Apart from meeting customers on a daily basis, we often arrange events and parties here, says Morinder. I would say that it’s a hub for creative meetings and a place where we exchange creative ideas on a daily basis.
Last spring, the store was relaunched through a new in-store concept, giving the opportunity to present the watches in a new way. Last fall, that same concept was then introduced when TID continued their expansion through the opening of their first shop-in-shop at retailer Fredmans Ur in Stockholm.
— It carries a carefully selected range of niche and well-established watch brands. We’re happy to have opened our first one there and to be a part of their qualitative assortment. Through this new shop-in-shop concept we’re able to offer a new shopping experience and a novel way to present our watches. It’s giving us the opportunity to meet our customers with greater power, says Bernestål.
Sustainability is built into TID Watch’s DNA and it’s not an uncomplicated matter for the brand to handle.
— For me personally, I am allergic to ”greenwashing” and I see problematic aspects when it comes to the current discussion around sustainability. I think it’s a complex dance between actually encouraging consumption and claiming high levels of sustainability, says Bernestål.
— We are not encouraging fast fashion and we are not part of the fast-spinning fashion circus based on fast collections. We believe in products with longevity. As a small brand, we do everything we can in order to offer as sustainable products as possible, says Morinder.
This spring sees TID launching several new special projects. One of them is the Limited Edition 005 ”A moment in time” collection. It is a creative collaboration with London- based creative studio Builders Club, founded by Julien Simsäuser and Jonas Hegi.
— The collection is based upon our No.3 watch and consists of a black and white watch head with matching silicone wristband and watch hands in red, yellow and blue, says Bernestål, adding,
— As mentioned before, we love creativity in all forms and that’s why we have worked with talented creatives for more than six years in order to create interpretations about time. To see these interpretations come to life in the form of physical products is great. For us, it’s important to give the creatives complete freedom when it comes to the interpretations they create. The result is genuine art pieces that truly inspire us. Although we’ve done this for six years, we’ve just started and only time can tell what will inspire us next. We’re also introducing TID No.3 Summer Colors — an addition of four new colourways to our existing No.3 collection: Wood Brown, Ocean Blue, Dandelion Yellow, and my personal favourite, Lavender Purple.
With that said, the most important step for TID Watches this season is the one to towards the Far East. For a couple of years now, TID has had a good distribution of watches in pan. Last fall, they launched in South Korea and it is now time for China.
— China is such an important and complex market where we see huge opportunities. Along with our new Chinese partner, we have bold plans going forward with the ambition to invite a bigger audience into our universe. The goal is to introduce TID to the Chinese market on a large scale, to meet their consumers and tell them about our Scandinavian design heritage, says Bernestål. He continues,
— At the moment, we’re making an effort to deepen our connection to that heritage and where we come from. We are definitely a proud part of the Scandinavian design scene and we want to highlight that Stockholm is an important part of the brand. The official name of the company is actually TID Stockholm.
And the choice of partner for this expansion could hardly have been better. Michael Hong is the founder of ZSTime, a professional distributor for European premium fashion watch brands in China. It is part of ZSTime Group which, since its foundation in 2009, has co-branded with UBER, McDonald’s, Only and other internationally renowned brands. It is also the brains behind many successful marketing events in the watch industry. The team of over 200 people has previously helped the likes of Bering, Olivia Burton, and other European and American watch and accessories brands enter China.
— The reason why I choose to become an expansion partner for TID Watches is because of what I consider being a unique combination and balance between product focus and philosophical interpretations, Hong says. The products show a strong Scandinavian style, with functionalism as the first element, and they acquire a new balance between function and appearance. TID Watches not only have practical design functions, but also a modern appearance. They also offer insightful content through the ”exploration of time philosophy”. The focus on the interpretation of time is something unique that caught my attention. Although the watch market in China is increasingly competitive, they really stand strong with unique and creative product design.
Reflecting on the advantage of being a Scandinavian brand in China, he continues,
— Well-known brands such as IKEA, H&M and Volvo’s products are all loved by Chinese mid- to highend consumers. With a perfect balance between functionalism and design, they have become the love of Chinese consumers who are looking to upgrade their consumption.
With celebrities having strong fan appeal and power in China, his ambition is to make an exclusive ”celebrity plan” for TID Watches. And his strong belief is that the exposure of fashion products should not be limited to online stores.
— We will also establish direct contact between consumers and products through offline marketing activities and offline stores so that consumers are able to directly experience the products.
Back in Stockholm, Form Us With Love’s Creative Director and TID Watches’ designer, John Löfgren, prepares for TID’s next major launch of a new model in September.
— It stays true to our design DNA while pushing our boundaries and broadening the collection. The overall design is rooted in the rational form of TID Watches but with this new release, we’re taking it to the next level in terms of sleekness and definition.