Last year, we introduced a new microbrand called SD-09 Watches. The brand officially launched on Kickstarter, but the campaign was just short of reaching the funding goal. There was a lot of enthusiasm and interest in their UFO watches, but they just didn’t get the backing needed to reach the goal. Unlike many watch brands on Kickstarter, SD-09 built their campaign from the ground up without PR firms or campaign boosters.
For the founder of SD-09, giving up is not an option. After months of revisions and preparation, the UFO watch is back on Kickstarter for a relaunch. We took some time to speak with Sydney about his crowdfunding experiences and what we can expect from round two:
[KTT] Where did you get the idea for the UFO Spacecraft timepiece?
[SD-09] I think as a new microbrand, I wanted to bring something special to the market. I like movies and watches very much, and I remember my favorite thing when I was small were the times my parents took me and my brother to see sci-fi movies in the cinema. Some of the movies still impress me a lot even today, like E.T. and Close Encounters of the Third Kind, etc. When I wanted to design a watch, I was thinking about how could I put something on the dial relating to the movies of my childhood, and so finally I built my watch collection around the concept of UFOs. Actually, the UFO idea came from the movie of Close Encounters of the Third Kind rather than the Phoenix Lights UFO sighting in 1997.
What has been the most difficult thing about starting a new watch brand?
The character of the brand! I think every watch brand must have their own soul to show their character to attract people to follow them. This is most difficult thing to think about before starting a new watch brand for us.
How did you feel when the first Kickstarter ended without reaching the campaign goal?
I had no experience to run a similar campaign before, and frankly, I felt totally disappointed at that time.
Did you feel like giving up?
I just felt discouraged for a very short time and then started to think again about anything I need to change or ways to improve the watches for a successful relaunch of our products. Never give up! That’s me!
What advice can you give for launching a new watch brand on Kickstarter?
You must be well-prepared before launching your campaign. Do everything you can do, like contact watch magazines & watch influencers, show your watches to your friends and promote your watches using social media, etc. Self promotion is a very important thing you have to do, like introducing your watches to everyone to let them to know what you are doing. They are willing to help you to promote your watches to their networks as long as they like your concept, design & the quality of the watches.
Why did you specifically choose the Miyota caliber 8218?
I believe the quality of the Miyota movement and caliber 8218 is exactly matched with my requirement for the design of sub-dial disc concept. It was also recommended by the Miyota staff and our factory partners. It’s a reliable movement and the cost is affordable as well. Although the 9015 is good, many previous creators already used that caliber for their designs so I decided to go for the 8218 movement. Moreover, our case design and the strap is really high cost so I think the 8218 is good to balance the overall cost of the watch.
What are you most proud of about SD-09 UFO watch?
I think it’s not “proud” of something, it’s more a feeling of creating something from zero to the finished prototype, like a baby was born.
So do you actually believe in aliens?
Yes, I indeed believe that there are aliens that survive on other planets.
Do you think aliens really have UFO spacecraft vehicles?
Of course, they must have some super cool spacecraft vehicles!
What about watches?
Same, I think they have cool and high-tech timepieces that may also be one of their weapons.
Sci-fi is a lot about the future, we want to know what do you think is the future of the watch industry?
I think the younger generation will go to use high-tech smart watches instead of traditional watches in the future, but I don’t think smart watches will ever completely replace automatic or quartz timepieces as I believe men like traditional watches because of the craftsmanship and the history of the brands.
Will people still be wearing watches in a hundred years?
Just like the previous answer. People will never, never stop wearing watches! However, who knows what they will be like in the future?
Your Kickstarter mentioned that you are a fashion designer, what kind of products did you work on before?
I have experience in the leather industry designing products like bags, wallets and shoes.
Which is your favorite piece in your collection?
I like the Model B-1 especially with the black case, black dial and blue hands.
Will your next watch be related to sci-fi, or do you have ideas for another concept?
Yes, why not have another Sci-fi or maybe earth watch. However, I think vintage watches or race car watches would be my first choice if I decided to go for another concept. I like vintage watches very much and racing cars as well, so I have no doubt that I would incorporate these elements of design in my new collections in the future… that is, if it is possible for me to do after our relaunch campaign.
Microbrand and crowdfunded watches are popular in USA, but how about in Hong Kong?
To be honest, I don’t think Hong Kong watch collectors are willing to try microbrand watches!! At this moment, the majority still like to buy well-known luxury brands in Hong Kong or they already use Apple watches
Tell us about your personal watch collection…
I have many watches including Swatch, Ingersoll, Seiko, Citizen, Dufa, Toy Watch, as well as vintage Rolex & vintage Omega in my collection.
Have you flipped any watches that you regret letting go of?
Some watch company founders wear watches on each arm at the same time, would you ever do that?
Yes, I always wear two of my SD-09 watches on holidays.
Have any of your friends or family asked you for a free watch yet?
No, they just said they wanted to buy it… it’s true, those are my true friends indeed… haha!!
What do you do in your free time?
I enjoy taking my daughter to the playground, family gatherings, watching football games & window shopping… especially for watches.