Visit to Dievas and Interview with Anders

 

 

It’s been two years since I last wrote about Dievas, and in that time it seems that many of you have been busy snapping up its timepieces: Vortexes, Aqualunas, the lot, which tells me that the Singapore- based watch company must be doing something right. TourBULLion is usually more interested when stuff goes wrong, but an opportunity to visit Gnomon Watches, retailers of Dievas here in Singapore and speak to Dievas’ managing director Anders was too good to pass up.

Anders is a very tall and powerfully built man, towering over my own (puny) 1.73m frame. “Hello,” he greeted me as I stepped into the boutique. I’m pretty sure I detected a hint of Bavarian in his accent… well it was either Bavaria or Bishan*. I returned his handshake with as much strength as I could muster.

Pleasantries aside, I began by asking Anders about the latest developments for Dievas. “2010 was a big year for us,” he began enthusiastically, “we had the Voyageur GMT, and also launched the 50 -piece limited edition Reaper back in November last year; the latter completely sold out within a month. Good as that was though, this year looks like its going to be even better. We have an array of watches lined- up over the next 12 months; chronographs, GMTs, the whole shebang.” He also let me in on a little secret – a 6 steel version of the Vortex was in the works and slated for production.

Exciting times for sure. However, ‘exciting’ is not always the first adjective that comes to mind when you consider Dievas’ watch designs. Functional, subdued, practical, utilitarian or even stealthy; sure – but the wow factor has not been everpresent.

On the brand’s design philosophy, Anders explained, “We adhere to the old adage that form follows function; a lot of companies profess to do so but here we are absolutely serious about it”. Caressing the limited edition Dievas Reaper on his wrist ala Ernst Stavro Blofeld would stroke his cat in the great James Bond movies he continued, “take the Reaper for instance. Everybody knows that the watchcase is the most easily damaged part of a watch, but why do companies do so little to protect them? Everything we apply to the case here in Dievas serves a particular function, brushing the steel and ridging the bezel improves grip; the plasma treatment to blacken the steel accentuates the stealth aspect of the watch and also improves the visibility of the hour- markers. Hence, it is through functionality that we also achieve the desired form and the aura that it projects”.

Which brought my mind to the Dievas’ engineering qualities. They were impressive for such a young company; almost every new release boasted one type of innovation or other. You could argue that some were pure gimmicky, but milling submarine steel for use in your watch is no joking matter. Indeed, Anders became very animated when I quizzed him on this topic. “We want to offer a watch that is right up there when it comes to engineering”. That usually means German, I think.

Continuing, Anders said, “We are continuing to produce more parts of our own. While our movements are still developed from an ETA base, we are now offering a level of customisation that frankly exceeds those presented by watch companies many times our size. We aspire to give our customers the best product from the design we have conceptualised, and that is why we have gone German and a positively Teutonic level of engineering.”

That seems ironic in the face of several established watch- companies having reportedly outsourced the production of key parts to China in order to lower costs. Commenting on this trend, Anders shrugged. “I think large watch- companies can get away with offering products that aren’t necessarily subpar but not exactly the best they can offer the customer either. But as a small start-up, Dievas doesn’t take chances and final product we put on the market is absolutely the best we can offer. Any lesser and you will find that consumers can be very unforgiving at this level.”

That strategy has served Dievas very well, and all of its products are perceived as excellent value -at present, there isn’t a Dievas that’s priced beyond US$ 1500, which means you’re getting quite a lot of watch for the money. But as with everything in this market segment, pricing has a perverse effect on the perception of luxury (or even worth). From experience, brands that have positioned their wares as ‘affordable luxury’ have not done spectacularly.

 

@ Gnomon Watches, a multibrand watch retailer: Anders and Dievas stand tall. Not many can do it in pink.

 

I asked Anders if placing Dievas on the lower end of the price scale might end up alienating buyers who tend to equate desirability with price. “I’ve often asked myself that question,” he quipped, “and you’re not the first person to suggest that Dievas is underpriced. At the end of the day though, we want to find the category that our watches are worth, and price them there. I know customers don’t always appreciate that (duh!). But I find the alternative, which is to have dealers offer deep discounts in order to move their inventories, much worse. We want to price our watches competitively so we don’t need a significant discount at the end of the day.” His strategy would seem to have been vindicated; even used Vortexes are retailing at just about a hundred dollars less than new on the forums, which would seem to attest to the competitiveness of the brand’s pricing – which was virtually unheard of in this market segment.

So it all seems good for Dievas, with exciting new designs, forward thinking, uncompromising build quality, and keenly priced. Anders offers a last comment before we part ways. “As a young company, we want to produce watches that people can use everyday and not pieces that they’d have to keep in the drawer. We want to be adventurous and break with convention. And that’s something I see Dievas continuing to do for the foreseeable future.” These visionary statements are always a nice way to end an article.

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Dievas timepieces are available at Gnomon Watches,100 Beach Road, Shaw Towers, #01-06 Singapore; also available at Carpal Watch, 35 Selegie Road, #01-09a, Parklane Shopping Center, Singapore. For more information visit www.dievaswatches.com.

* A residential district in Northeastern Singapore

 

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