Q&A with Hans Heuvelman, founder of Florijn Watches
In December 2014, Hans Heuvelman has officially launched FLORIJN, a watch brand grounded in the tradition of Dutch design. The name of the brand too has Dutch origin; the first guilder was called Florijn, after Florentine lily on its back. As I had the chance to take a look at two of the pieces from the Florijn’s debut collection, I was curious to learn more about Hans and his brand.
How did you got into watches?
Hans: I always liked watches from when I was young. I remember my first Swatch watch from mid-eighties, which I still have. At that time I would not call myself a so called WIS. My passion for mechanical watches came around 10 years ago. I bought my first “real” watch, a Tag Heuer Kirium and started to learn more about the techniques behind it. Not only the designs and looks, but also about mechanical power, springs, screws etc. all these things used to keep time so accurate. The fact that time is one of the most precious things on earth (and everyone here seems to be in chronically short supply of it). This wealth deserves to be carried around in a way that fits its value, with mechanical ingenuity.
Working in IT, which is often very abstract, it is great to spend time with something that is so tangible and can be seen, touched and worn.
So the combination of designs, craftsmanship and mechanical ingenuity has grown my passion for watches.
Who is the designer? Is it you or you worked with someone else?
After buying, selling, collecting, staring at many Jewelry shops, reading magazines, visits to Baselworld, I decided it was time to put my own ideas into a design.
I found the right partners to help me during this process. Mainly to translate all my ideas, mood boards and wish list into a first design that actually can be made. This was an iterative process and many sketches were exchanged and changed and re-designed. I could not have done this without that specific watchmaker expertise. I think we were a great team and worked really well to come to a final design which I feel is completely meeting the result I had in mind. I had the design ideas and philosophy and my counterpart the technical expertise of what was technically possible (and still affordable).
As a Dutch brand I am inspired by Dutch Design, something we are famous for worldwide. In general, Dutch Design is described as ‘simple and powerful’, without being simplistic. This is expressed in clean lines and functionality without any frills. The objective is to offer a pleasant, comfortable, affordable and reliable watch; clearly indicating the time and date and suitable to wear in any circumstance. Quality and reliability is established by using materials like stainless steel, sapphire glass and also our choice for a reliable and durable mechanical movement, so no batteries are needed anymore. Since the watch is waterproof to 300 meters (30 ATM), it can be used in all humid circumstances.
I travel a lot, so I wanted something that could indicate a second time zone. Next to that my goal was to build a watch that solves my problem on business trips and vacation… which watch shall I take with me on this trip? A single watch that can be worn in many circumstances: at the office and at the hotel bar; in the airplane, in the swimming pool or on the beach.
We see many new brands using crowdfunding websites, why did you choose not to use them?
Of course I thought about crowdfunding or use pre orders to fund the first batch. I decided not to use this way of financing, since I have heard from many other microbrands that the road to the first model is not easy. It took me around 2 years from idea to having received the watches from the factory. I did not want to put any kind of pressure on the project.
People can be disappointed in not meeting expected timelines. Or even could be disappointed that the production watch looks somehow different from 3D photo renderings.
That is why I only want to go live when I do have realistic photos of the actual watch. And if people see and like the watch, I do not want to keep them waiting but be able to ship next business day.
It prevented me from taking decisions based on time pressure or other expectations set so that I could focus on getting the watch right and meeting quality and design standards. It gave me more freedom in the whole process.
Downside is that the financial risk is a bit bigger. But I am optimistic and I think, I can offer something different to the watch lovers around the world. I hope that was a wise decision to take and many people agree with me and will take the opportunity to order their own FLORIJN.
Now that the debut collection is out, what’s next for Florijn?
I am full of ideas for new models. Especially, I’m thinking of a model with a special way to indicate the second time zone (not via the bezel). Also, I would like to make a “clean” chrono. All with the same consistent design ideas and vision. I still have 200 cases left to be used for new projects and that does ideas can become reality as well. But since this is something I do next to my day job, the focus is now on getting the current models to new owners.
For our hands-on review of Florijn Twee and Florijn Drie, click here.