Mr Hiromitsu Endo founded watch brand Knot in 2014 in the fashionable Kichijoji neighbourhood of Tokyo, with the aim to produce high-quality, expressive watches at a reasonable price. He has achieved just that, and along the way established an Asian answer to the trend of beautiful, affordable, instagrammable watches, spearheaded in Europe by the likes of Daniel Wellington and Kapten & Son.
Knot are also surfing on the trend of direct-to-consumer service, with a similar model to brands like Viu Eyewear and Away Luggage. First and foremost, by cutting out middlemen and wasteful distribution (their factory is also in Japan), this keeps quality up and prices down. Very down. 1/3 of the market price. But, more than this, it also allows the essence of the brand – individuality and Japanese quality – to stay pure. ‘Knotting Japan to the world through Japanese quality,’ as their almost charmingly clunky tagline puts it.
But one area in which they by no means follow trend, an area, in fact, in which they innovate, by nailing what no other watch brand has managed well yet – is customization.
Perhaps the biggest key to the brand’s success is a tiny little piece of functionality they call the ‘easy lever’. All it does is allow straps to be easily attached and detached from the watch. But thanks to this simple device, Knot offer over 8,000 combinations of strap and watch. One can customize the case, the face, the dials, the crown, an engraving, even the optional giftbox. Essentially, customers have the ability to create something personal and unique. Something that can be changed according to day, occasion and mood. Something fun and expressive.
This kind of customization seems possible only online. And yet, by questioning tradition once again – the tradition of watches behind a glass case, of white-gloved shop assistants and that disconcerting quiet that deems the act of watch-buying not just dull but daunting – Knot’s ‘Gallery Shops’ bring this playfulness also to their stores. Everything is displayed openly, on big tables that lay everything out in front of the customer to try on, to mix and match at will. These gallery shops are designed to promote ‘experiences’ rather than ‘things’. To be fun and create memories that will forever be attached to the watch.
There are seven Knot Gallery Shops in Japan. Taiwan has two, Thailand, Singapore, and Vietnam each also have a branch. None have made it out of Asia yet, though, and while their online store makes the product available worldwide, we certainly hope Knot ‘gallery shops’ will pop up in Europe soon – to teach some of the stuffy European brands a thing or two about innovative service. Not to mention invigorate the market and wrists everywhere with their unique and expressive watches. Their branding certainly makes clear an interest in the global market, so we will just have to wait and see how far they take it.
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Image credits © Knot Official Website