For as long as he can remember, Andreas Dobler has always been passionate about watches. While combining his profession as a user experience designer and his interest in the watch industry, he decided to use digitalization as an opportunity to have in one (digital) platform the main players of the watch ecosystem: the passionate users, the Swiss brands, and the retailers.
With Crownos Andreas wants to create a community where watches are accessible to all watch interested people: from enthusiasts who find inspiration in unique timepieces to beginners into the topic. All of that, by giving them guidance to find the right product that fits their personal requirements and expectations. He advocates product diversity and aims to individualize the visitor experience through intelligent matching of unique timepieces and customers.
Crownos is currently gathering watch brands and retailers who might be interested in the service, explaining to them how the platform works and its benefits so that watch prospects can expect the first inspiration of authentic timepieces by autumn 2022, when the beta phase is planned to be launched.
Learning about no-code tools like Bubble.io was the final push of empowerment that Andreas needed to start building Crownos and make his idea a reality. Andreas was part of the first cohort of students who joined the No-Code Academy from HuggyStudio. Even though the 12-week program finished by the end of August 2021, Andreas stayed in touch with the company —joined some events and knew about different projects— until six months later, when he officially joined the HuggyStudio team as a Full Stack Designer.
"The name Crownos is made up of the terms 'Crown' and 'Chrono'. The so-called watch crown is a small ribbed knob that gives you control over the watch. Its primary purpose is to wind the mechanical watch's mainspring, which powers the entire functionality and breathes life into it. The second term, chrono, comes from the Greek chrónos, meaning time", Andreas Dobler
For generations, Andreas Dobler’s family has been active in the watch industry. His grandmother worked in a big watch movement manufacturer; his father was a watchmaker for a well-known Swiss company, as well as for an independent brand; and also his mother is still employed in the watch industry. “If you grew up in Grenchen, a small town in the city of Solothurn, where many watch brands are at home, is not that unusual”, says Andreas.
After finalizing his studies in Computer Science, Andreas was interested in going deeper into the creative process of finding different ways for design interaction. “As a UX designer in a digital agency, however, I did not deal professionally with precision mechanics (like in watches) but support various companies with the digitalization of products and services”, says Andreas, who also confesses that he always liked combining the technical and creative side of things with the design one.
"There is something magical about watches that automatically draws you in if you study the subject sufficiently. I want to give a platform for the old-school values of watchmaking and the craftsmanship behind the watches. Something for watch fans and enthusiasts. I hope to create a magical place where they share a hobby and a passion”.
For many people, the search for the right watch is anything but easy. Crownos' main idea is to accompany watch passionate on their journey while offering inspiration through an individual and tailored selection of high-quality timepieces that perfectly fit their needs.
After joining the Minimum Viable Conference organized by HuggyStudio in 2021, Andreas was fascinated by all the case studies that were shown, the power of no-code tools, and the diversity and speed of the projects that were built. He then decided to be part of the first batch of students who joined the No-Code Academy the same year.
What was Andreas’ first idea when joining the academy? “My concept brings different stakeholders —Swiss brands, watch retailers, and users— digitally closer together. It’s a marketplace for all of them to learn, buy and exchange experiences in one place. I want to help people by bringing more diversity to the watch industry; inspiring them, guiding them, and providing a digital shopping experience that is quite individual” emphasizes Andreas.
While learning more about Bubble.io during the no-code academy, and after investigating the influence of digitalization on watch sales, he saw a variety of opportunities that came with it and how to contribute. From supporting smaller independent watch brands, who were having a difficult time surviving during the COVID19 pandemic with their stores closed; to giving watchmakers an opportunity to reach out to new prospects/interested users.
Crownos analyzes users more closely. For example, by filling out a questionnaire of what are they looking for when searching for a watch, the style of it, what is the motivation behind it, etc. With that information, the system can take a look at which brand/products fit them best. “Normally many people just know big brands, like Rolex or Omega, and on this platform, I want to try to bring many unknown and high-quality ones to other potential clients”, says Andreas.
“For me, as a designer, no-code allowed me to bring my ideas very fast to life. Not only to create prototypes and small things, but I could bring them to life without paying a developer in the end. Because I am the developer. It is super powerful! No-code empowered me to keep working and developing ideas by myself and finding different ways to support other entrepreneurs!”
The watch industry is anchored in tradition, which has evolved in one way or another, over the past century. With Crownos, Andreas Dobler wants to apply different possibilities and leverage the potential of new digitally-driven solutions. For primarily small and independent companies, adapting digitally —both the marketing and sales departments— is a major challenge.
For that reason, Andreas’ first step with Crownos is finding out the interest of small and independent watch brands and retailers to sign up on the platform, start learning how it works, and understand its benefits. “My goal is to have an inclusive platform. It doesn't matter if you are a very big corporation or if you are just a micro-brand, in the end, it should just be a place where watches are at home, and where users can find a watch that fits their needs”, explains Andreas.
Once Crownos has built up the basis of watch brands —after onboarding them into the platform— Andreas will start to reach out to first users (watch prospects) for the beta phase where the launch is scheduled for autumn 2022.
“I am facing the classical chicken and egg problem: do I start with prospects or with the other side? In my case, it is smarter to start with the supplier side – brands and where the products come from. Until I have a set amount of resellers and brands, then I can test it with the users” says Andreas.
Andreas Dobler knows that sometimes searching for the perfect watch can be difficult. For him, Crownos is the sparring partner that will accompany users on the journey and inspire them with an individually tailored selection, once they are on the platform. Users will get watches from Swiss manufacturers, which are committed to the passion and tradition of watchmaking.
“During the first quarter of 2022, I want to generate confidence and trust and find out the brands and retailers that are ready for a platform like Crownos. Afterward, I want to see how the watch passionate users will react to the site. My goal is to bring the beta version to life by autumn 2022, and in the best case, with a big portfolio and as many active users as possible”, explains Andreas.
”In the long term, Crownos should be the online platform where users go to find watches online. In my dream, it becomes a leading marketplace that shares the emotion behind selling and buying a watch. Similar to the journey you experience physically when going to a store! I want to take that over into the digital world, and I know there is a long way to go”.
You can also contact the founder of Crownos, Andreas Dobler, via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.