Please join me in welcoming our latest retail partner, FIVEFORTYFIVE. Co-owners Ryan McKenzie and Malcolm Brow are our newest retail partners, serving Australia, New Zealand and the rest of Oceania. Once you check them out, you’ll understand why.
They are based in the newly refurbished Maguires building on one of New Zealand’s finest streets, Cuba Street, the most vibrant retail area in Wellington, surrounded by some of the best cafes and restaurants in the Capital.
These guys know how to run a retail space, which feels more like a lovely home than a shop, furnished with antiques, art, and other curiosities. Among them, handmade watch rolls, or horological literature, beautiful cufflinks, fine Japanese knives and hundreds of watches with a mixture between new, pre-owned, and vintage.
We caught up with Ryan recently to ask him some questions so you could get to know FIVEFORTYFIVE (or 545) better. This is what he had to say.
- What made you want to open an online watch boutique?
We played with a lot of ideas prior to opening the doors. Ultimately we decided we wanted to have the doors open here in Wellington to anyone who wanted to look at watches. As New Zealand is a small place, we thought we’d have a lot more reach with an online component as well. My previous experience with selling had been purely brick and mortar with restrictions to selling overseas. But with an online boutique, we can bring interesting watches that we find to a global audience.
- How do you decide which brands you want to carry?
I’m very fortunate to have a very supportive group of friends and clients who love watches as much as I do. If they hadn’t shown me the high quality of some of the microbrands we carry, I may have overlooked the whole category. It’s a great position to be in when we can bring brands into New Zealand and Australia that no one knows about.
- What’s your “grail” watch? And why?
Outside of watches, one of my other passions is history, specifically US Presidential history (I also collect US Electoral memorabilia). The ultimate grail watch would be one of the Patek Philippe models commissioned by Lyndon Baines Johnson as gifts. First and foremost, these are beautiful dress watches, and despite their age they are a very wearable 36MM and are inscribed with the 'Golden Rule’ on the dial. As far as I see, there could not be a more perfect combination of two of my interests.
- Tell us an interesting fact about your business.
Our shop here in Wellington carries a mixture of Watches and New Zealand art. It’s been a great opportunity to show people who are interested in the watches the appeal of the art (and vice versa). It adds an interesting element to the business and thanks to having the art here, I’ve met people who otherwise might have given the store only a passing glance.
- What buying trends are you seeing internationally?
Buying trends are always evolving. We do a lot of business in Australia and the United States and I’m often surprised by what we sell to overseas customers. For instance, I’ve sold so many Mechanical Seiko Models to Texas that I’m starting to think that opening a Seiko Boutique there might be viable.