Interview with Studio Underd0g watches founder – Richard Benc

Today I’m gonna have an interview with Studio Underd0g founder Richard Benc! And he has a very exciting watch project on Kickstarter right now! Why I approached this brand? Becuase they did it differently! Especially with the watermelon coloured watch! I like when companies don’t care about anything and just makes what they love! I know that the watermelon coloured model isn’t for everybody, but in my opinion wristwatches need more colour!

I really love this project and they have gotten a great success! I like the design, the colours and everything! They truly do it differently! Specs wise they are quite great with a case size 38,5mm, Seagull ST1901 movement, sapphire on front and back, super luminova and an Italian leather strap. Hopefully when they launch the watch in for a productions we can get a watch in for a review!

You can check the Kickstarter project here: www.kickstarter.com

1. Introduce yourself
Hello. My name is Richard, and I’m the founder of Studio Underd0g. I’m a young designer / entrepreneur based in London.

2. What started your watch passion?
My passion for watches was a complete accident. When I finished my University studies (Product Design Engineering) I took the first job in London that was offered to me. This role just so happened to be designing watches. Initially I was designing character watches such as Mickey Mouse watches, or Star Wars watches – but as I developed my skills I starting working for larger brands, primarily Braun. This role essentially introduced me to the world of watches, and through my research, opened my eyes to the Microbrand watches community. I’ve always had an entrepreneurial mindset, so it was only a matter of time before I started to develop my own ideas.

3. What makes a good wristwatch to you?
A wristwatch, especially a mechanic wristwatch is something quite unique. It’s a technology that at one point in time was cutting edge and the pinnacle of technical advancements. Now, functionally, they’re defunct – yet the interest in mechanical watches only seems to be growing. That means defining a ‘good watch’ is very much in the eye of the beholder. A good watch is simply a watch that resonates with you!

4. What watches do you have in your personal collection? And maybe you could list them or tell an interesting story about one particular one?
My collection:

  • Star Wars STAR476
  • Braun AW10 (1989 re-issue)
  • Tudor BB58
  • Christopher Ward Moonglow
  • Studio Underd0g Watermelon

A watch that is ‘not like the others’ is the Star Wars STAR476. This was one of the first watches that I designed as briefly mentioned earlier. In terms of specs, its nothing more than a fashion watch – but it was one of my first designs too be introduced into the market, and so it will always be special to me! I learnt a lot from this project and in some way it has influenced my creative process. One element that I was very proud of was the detail of the crown which represented Yoda’s lightsabre. I enjoy designing subtle design references that may not be noticed on first inspection. I used a similar design-process for my ‘Watermel0n’ watch where the hour markings are shared like watermelon pips!

5. Who is your ideal customer?
It may sound strange to say, but I don’t have an ideal customer!

I started designing my Studio Underd0g concept at the start of 2020. Like many people around the world, I had a lot of free new-found free time due to the pandemic / lockdowns. I decided to develop my concepts as a passion-project and was not really focusing on a commercial concept. I was simply designing a watch for myself that I liked! I presented my concepts to the enthusiast community on Facebook and was suspired to receive so many positive comments. This made me realise that maybe there was an appetite for my playful approach and motivated me to pursue this idea.

6. Tell about what you like to do outside of watches. Where do you find inspiration for your work?

I have a number ofpassions unrelated to watches, primarily Skiing and a recent love for sneaker culture.

I am an intermediate skier at best, but that hasn’t stopped me from loving the sport. I’m patiently waiting to get out of the city and onto the white slopes – hopefully soon!

Sneaker culture is something that is relatively new to me, but over the last 3 years I’ve enjoyed the community aspect with those that share this niche common interest (much like the Microbrand watch niche)!

7. How do you see your watch brand in the future?
I’d love to be able to introduce a collection of Studio Underd0g watches, and already have some ideas for some new watches. Despite my playful approach, I do want my watches to be taken seriously by the enthusiast community. Hence for my initial introduction I wanted to ensure that these Chronographs were an honest tribute to vintage watches of the past, but with a modern and interesting twist.  

One key part of my branding going forward, will be collaborating with people in the creative industry. I’d love to work with some artists / designers who share my vision and create some unique (and limited) pieces in the future!   

8. Why the watermelon?
I wish I had an interesting story here, but to be honest – I have no idea where the idea came from…!

One possible inspiration was an article by HODINKIEE, where the team created some visuals of a watch that was conceptualised by the 8 year old son of the Director of Product at HODINKEE. The idea was to use a yellow and green bezel in the iconic Rolex GMT and they simply named this project ‘Sprite’. This playful concept really resonated with me and I really enjoyed the playful approach. I decided to take this playful approach and incorporate it into my design process. I liked the idea of poking fun in an industry which is typically very serious.

9. What was the hardest part of creating a microbrand watch company?
Creating a microbrand has been fun, rewarding, exciting but very stressful! I’m usually quite a relaxed person, but I’ve been so focused on ensuring my ideas can become a reality that it can at times be quite consuming!

10. Any suggestions to someone who wants to start their own microbrand watch?
Go for it!
We live in an age where answers are simply a google search away. Creating a microbrand is not easy, but now is an excellent time to start. If not now, then when?

Imagine how difficult it would have been to try and develop a watch brand 20 years ago?!

One thought on “Interview with Studio Underd0g watches founder – Richard Benc

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