Luxury timekeeping is a complex world with a long-standing hierarchy based on legacy, stretching across hundreds of years and purposes. It’s noteworthy when a new player pops up in the space looking to leave their mark on the world of horology.
Introducing VIEREN, the Swiss made, meticulously-modern watch designed to inspire. The four-watch collection ranges from matte white to black and white diamond. We spoke with co-founders Jessica Chow and Sunny Fong about their launch piece, the OG Automatic 2020. Priced reasonably for the introductory watch collector, the OG Automatic is a timepiece that conveys elegance without being boastful.
You've mentioned momentum as an inspiration for the OG Automatic 2020. Can you elaborate on that?
Fong: I started wearing my dad’s automatic watch five years ago. It was my daily reminder to keep moving, because when I didn’t wear it, time stopped. Automatic watches are powered by motion, and that concept stuck with me. It seems as though everyone is wearing technology on their wrists these days, and Jess and I felt like we could come together to create a powerful timepiece that could be worn all the time, last a lifetime, and inspire others to keep moving, too.
Chow: I’ve always been interested in the intersection of art and science, and watches are just that: a celebration of design and precision. When we first started working with the team at our watch studio in La-Chaux-de-Fonds, Switzerland, we learned so much. Each microscopic piece of our automatic timepieces is handcrafted by expert watchmakers who build them together with the utmost, meticulous precision. Even if you’re off by 0.1mm, the whole piece won’t fit together. The craft of watchmaking has been passed down by generations, which is inspiring in its own right. With VIEREN, we wanted to share this story with others while supporting the next generation of watchmakers in this historical region known as Watch Valley. [It's been] recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Centre for its exceptional contributions to horology.
How did you get into watchmaking? What parts of it were the most appealing to you?
Chow: My family has actually been in the luxury watchmaking business for more than 40 years. I never thought it would be for me, though. I spent years as a management consultant for advising brands but always knew I wanted to start my own business one day. When I met Sunny, I felt we had the opportunity to combine my consulting experience and network of Swiss watchmakers with his eye as a fashion designer to create a brand of powerful, handcrafted timepieces with the highest marks in quality, precision and performance, but [one] that is also approachable, straightforward and transparent.
Fong: I’ve been in fashion for two decades, and designing a watch was always a dream of mine. My design style has always been the blend of handcrafted detail and wearability from runway to sidewalk. This made designing a quality timepiece that can be worn every day the perfect next step for me. Considering everything, I felt it was a good time to focus on creating something meaningful that preserved the storied craft of watchmaking rather than contributing to the world of fast fashion.
What do you hope people will take away when they see one of your pieces?
Chow: We hope they will be inspired by the power of time, and the fact that we ultimately power our own time. We want people to prioritize their passions over paychecks and be inspired to make the most out of every second of their life, especially after this year. We also want people to see the value in our watches, what they’re worth today, and how they will wear over time. I’ve seen how the industry has changed over the years; how it’s becoming more intimidating today to experience a luxury timepiece. We’ve focused on creating the highest quality timepieces while explaining what to look for and how they work in an approachable way.
Fong: Every design detail of the watch was considered, from the rectangular case to the gold minute ring, to make it a truly signature watch, [something] distinctly VIEREN. We learned that a lot of watch companies source parts from the same manufacturers, so it was important that each component was custom designed just for us. We wanted to create a genderless timepiece, so we spent a lot of time experimenting to find the perfect size and fit. Our collections are built to last a lifetime, and we hope they inspire those who wear our watches to power their time.
How did you go about creating your capsule collection? How did you land on diamonds?
Fong: I approached designing our first capsule watch collection like I would a garment; focusing on structure, texture and details. I thought about who would be wearing it and where they would be wearing it to. I want them to feel powerful in my pieces. That’s why we went straight to Switzerland, so that we could merge traditional Swiss Made craftsmanship with modern design. Our first watch was the Matte White, because we wanted to reinvent a classic timepiece that makes a statement. Inspired by the modernist architecture of Mies van der Rohe and the monochromatic sculptures of Louise Nevelson, this stark white-on-white timepiece was the design that started it all. Playing on the tone-on-tone, monochromatic design, we then created the Matte Black watch by plating the entire watch in black diamond-like-carbon (DLC).
Chow: Then, we thought, "wouldn’t it be great if it was all matte black with black diamonds?" Our Black Diamond and White Diamond styles in our OG Automatic Collection each feature 31 hand-applied diamond indices and a geometric pattern on the dial to add a layer of depth and dimension exclusive to our diamond series. It’s an ideal blend of subtlety and sexy that’s versatile enough to wear every day.
Can you tell us more about the components and the movements of the watch?
Chow: Similar to a car, a watch movement is like an engine. An automatic movement is one of the most complex and sophisticated mechanisms available, with over 160 microscopic components working together in perfect unison to tell time. It’s a mechanical device that is powered by the wearer’s momentum. When worn every day, the rotor (weighted semi-circular disc) on the back of the automatic movement swings back and forth, winding and therefore powering the watch. It uses only the energy stored in the watch mechanism and does not require a battery like a quartz watch.
Fong: Swiss Made is a coveted designation given to only the world’s most well-crafted and accurate timepieces. For a watch to be certified Swiss Made, it must meet a strict set of legal standards set by the government of Switzerland: a quality Swiss movement, the development of the watch must be in Switzerland, and the value of the watch head must be at least 60 per cent Swiss. Since quality is really important to us, we used long-lasting materials, including 316L high-grade stainless steel for durability, scratch-resistant sapphire crystal, and precious gemstones. It’s a collection we’re proud to share.
What's in store for the next collection?
Chow: Our next collection will feature quality Swiss ETA-2671 automatic movements -- an iconic rectangular watch case -- and our signature 18K gold minute ring. It takes over six months to craft an automatic watch that is certified Swiss Made, which is why we only create 100 limited edition timepieces of each style in our capsule collections.
Fong: With this first collection, we played with modern, matte and monochromatic to create contemporary automatic timepieces. People really loved it, and we’ll be continuing this concept of seamless continuity and exploring different materials and textures in our next collection. Excited to share more in the new year!
Learn more about VIEREN and shop the collection via vieren.co.
Photography by: Courtesy Vieren