Franck J. from Techne

Den ( Please tell about company history. Company mission and future plans.

Franck J. (Techne): I studied Industrial Design and after starting to work in the watch industry in 2005, I privately followed training in goldsmithing and basic watchmaking. I registered the brand Technéin 2007, and I released my first collection through direct marketing in 2009. Since then, and I have begun shifting towards partnerships with online and brick-and-mortar retailers. After Switzerland and France, Techné watches are now sold locally in Belgium, the Netherlands, Norway, Tennessee and Virginia. The last reseller (Ardent Watch) has been unofficially selling our watches to personnel of the U.S. Special Operations Command.

Techné’s mission is “To blend ergonomics and style to create original, affordable and dependable watches for professionals and collectors”.Besides the development of my own collections, I design Private Label watches and I help entrepreneurs set up their watch company.

Alongsidea natural expansion of the collections, I have three objectives for the future:
1. Strengthening the compliance with ISO and military standards
2. Creating a mid-range Swiss brand and a “low-cost” high-end brand.
3. Getting representation in cities like New York, Paris, London or Milan.


Den: Some words about the process of creating a product. How do you choose suppliers? Do you plan to use Chinese movements or maybe Swiss. Or you are fully satisfied with the Seiko movements?

Franck: I try to work with suppliers that are flexible (small quantities or additional services) and capable ofproducing watches that meet ISO standards (water-resistance, shock-resistance and anti-magnetism).

One of my core values is “dependability”, and I only have experience with 2 Chinese movements with a very high-quality balance spring thatcan easily be fine-tune to -4/+6 seconds per day. The first one is the Seagull ST-1901, used in the SparrowHawk original(Ref. 373). The second is a 11 ½ line hand-wind movement that I have recently taken under consideration.

We will never know precisely how Japan movement compares to Swiss ones because since 1968, non-European movements have been excluded from Swiss chronometric competitions. This didn’t deter a prestigious company like TAG Heuer from negotiating the license to use a mechanical chronograph from Seiko Instrument in 2006, and from sourcing Seiko balance springs in 2012. I personally think that Miyota’s 9015 or Seiko Instrument’s NE20 are nicely engineered and built, and they can easily be fine-tuned to the same performance as Swiss movements.

Another core value of Techné is “affordability”, so I think it will be difficult to use Swiss mechanical movements while maintaining a price tag below USD 500.For that reason, I am planning to develop a new “Swiss Made” brand in the middle-price range.

Den: Don`t you think that current European economic problems are «good» for companies that sell affordable watches?

Franck: Absolutely. We offer 2 things that the consumer can particularly appreciate in the current financial climate:
1. Our watches offer a lot of style for the price tag.
2. Our watches are produced in limited quantities (which makes them highly-sought), so they retain a good value on the second-hand market.

Den: What is better for a small company: to make a Rolex-style watch (or IWC for example) or to build your own style of watch?

Franck: My experience is that there is more risk in releasing original designs, but the reward is that the brand can easily be recognized.

Homages watches are a “safe bet” for the developer. He enters know territory, so there is very little risk in using a design that is already popular. The problem is that it becomes very difficult to differentiate the brand from the competition. If a customer wants a diving or a pilot watch, there are plenty of alternativesinspired by the same iconic watches.

With original designs, the developer is taking more risks: maybe the idea will meet with success, or maybe it will be a total flop. This is unknown territory, so the developer can only rely on his own taste and experience.

With the small budgets we start with, I can understand if someone prefers to limit the risks. Like many of my peers, I released a homage watch (under the Tärnan brand), but I see that more and more brands are no longer afraid of taking risks by putting their own ideas into shape.

Under the Techné brand, I have taken the risk of shaping my own idea of a military watch. Like more prestigious brands, my inspirations are aviation instruments and the Bauhaus philosophy, so there will always be similarities in style.But I am very proud of having been the first to make style choices that I see prestigious brands make later.

Den: Are you thinking about other types: divers, dress watches?

Franck: A lot of my peers are specialized in diving watches, and there is a lot of choice to the consumer, which is a great thing. The one thing I noticed is that only one of those brands certifies that their watches passed ISO 6245 certification. Should I enter the competitive diving watch market, is where I would start.

For dressy watches, I am not sure that the visual finishing of Miyota movements, Seiko movements or ETA clones is high enough. I would like to offer something more exclusive, so it will certainly be “Swiss Made”, andprobablyreleasedunderanew middle-range or anew high-end brand.

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