Please join me in welcoming IntoWatch owner Jun Kim to our circle of NTH retail partners. Jun works out of his shop in South Korea, and I caught up with him recently to ask him a few questions about his business. This is what he had to say:
What made you want to open an online watch boutique?
I was kind of like Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany’s. I loved looking at expensive and complicated watches through the window of local shops when I was in my early 20s.
I started off buying a watch after I got my first job and then bought a few more along the way. I joined a watch community and found out there are actually thousands of brands that I can actually afford. So I did some research and some of those brands were good while others were disappointing.
However, during the purchasing process, I had doubts about these brands because of clunky websites and a lack of information about the pieces. I wasn’t able to try the watch before I bought, so having trust in the brand was crucial. Not to mention, the language barrier before and after the purchase.
I saw an opportunity for business.
When the time came, I quit my job of 10 years to pursue my dreams. I wasn’t the most knowledgeable watch enthusiast but I knew my passion for watches would carry me until I learned everything I needed to know.
I just love that working automatic and manual movement is like giving life to the nonliving mechanism. And I admire its complication and craftsmanship, something man developed and mastered.
How do you decide which brands you want to carry?
I should say that the fun of owning your own business is that I get to hand pick every watch I carry. It is entirely my preference that curates my collection. However, there are a few things I always look at.
- The design has to make my heart beat and stay in my head days after I’ve seen it. The watch has to look stunning and it has to make me buy one otherwise it’s out of my portfolio.
- The watch must be high quality (no quartz) and needs to be exceptional in the industry. It also needs to be automatic or mechanical. I’m a believer that microbrands are not inferior to luxury brands. Microbrand designs have a great influence on the entire watch industry.
- The brand’s owner has to have a vision. Without a clear vision, a watch will become lifeless. It’s the brand owner who gives the watches life.
What’s your “grail” watch? And why?
There are too many to pick. But if I had to, my true grail watch would be the Panerai 360, aka BBQ. I have to admit that I’m a Paneristi. I know it’s a luxury brand but it was the watch that helped me fall in love with timepieces. I love its simplicity. But at $12,000, it’s a luxury I will never (and honestly don’t want to) afford.
One interesting fact about your business?
I only handle microbrands in Korea and I really like my market. I have a good sense of what people want and what will sell quickly. I also make straps to order. I love leather straps and leather goods and have started making custom straps for a few elite customers. It’s just the beginning but I expect to expand that part of my business in the years to come.