Few products have undergone an evolution as dramatic as the watch has over the years. From being a useful tool for telling the time, it became a fashion accessory and post-that, a wearable communication device. Today, the Burberrys, Fossils and Calvin Kleins watch in dismay as Apple and Google make a forays into the market. It was in this scenario that two entrepreneurs with an artistic bend of mind dared to launch a wooden analog watch brand recently. Tsar (meaning Emperor in Russian) is a lifestyle watch brand that sells wooden watches.
Driven by the passion for introducing eco-friendly and sustainable products, the Tsar founders advocate craftsmanship and vintage fashion. Based in Indore and Mumbai, Tsar Watches sold 72 watches within four months and had a revenue of Rs 3.15 lakhs in that period. “Today, we get around 300 visitors on our website and around 80 collaboration requests every day,” shares Co-founder Abdul Kadir Bhandari (23). Abdul, along with his friend Haider Ali Lashkar (23), founded the startup in September 2015. Most of this traction has been from India and the Middle East and recently, they started operations in Africa. For the Southern India operations, however, they roped in their well-wisher and guide Abbas Akbari who was with the Ford Motors Company earlier.
“People prefer a brand while buying a watch. So we created a brand that sounded European, conveying Middle Eastern values and paid a lot of attention to craftsmanship,” adds Haider. Tsar Watches are made of koa wood from the USA, dark sandalwood from Africa and walnut wood from Canada. “Each wood has a different kind of characteristic, like walnut wood helps us in developing clarity and focus. When you wear wood, you notice its color evolving over a period of time. Unlike metal watches that wear down over time, wooden watches actually look even better with age. The natural oils on their skin personalize the wooden watch to its owner,” adds Abdul.
But anything to do with wood is directly related to trees and the environment. “For this, we have a policy of planting a tree with each sale. We have tied up with a noted national NGO ‘Grow-trees’ that works in the field of environment conservation. This forms our core values and also fulfills our CSR activity,” informs Haider.
Tsar Watches has a simple revenue model of online and offline selling channels. Apart from its own website, Tsar is available on Amazon, Paytm and Flipkart and with certified Instagram retailers. “We have agents or channel partners across the country like in Delhi, Chennai, Mumbai, Kuwait, Dubai, the UK etc. They are responsible for heading the operations in various cities. They not only stock the products but also bring in institutional sales, facilitate various collaborations, grow dealer networks and help in buzz promotion and directing the feedback. In addition, we have offline retail outlets that form the major chunk of our sales. We don’t give any kind of credit to the retailers but sell to them on full-cash. If any retailer is not satisfied with the purchase, then he/she may return the remaining products within 60 days from the date of sale and claim for refund. This way their money is also safe,” informs Abdul.
The Indian watch market grew by 19% in 2015 to reach total sales of Rs 76.7 billion in India alone, thanks to the role played by urban consumers and growing luxury consumerism (Source: Euromonitor). “Although the Indian watch market is mostly dominated by global brands like Timex, Fossil, Diesel, Cartier and Tag Heur, the likes of Titan are giving stiff competition to these MNCs. Yet India lacks indigenous watch brands in this sector,” shares Haider.
Tsar Watches prices range from Rs 3500 to Rs 5000. “In International markets, we do have competition in wooden watch sectors where Jord, We-wood and Original Grain are established brands. Their major operations are in the U.S. and Canada only. However, these brands are also not older than five years,” he adds.
They don’t seem intimidated. Abdul says, “We would appreciate more competition as this would generate greater buzz about this concept.” Tsar has plans of building a team of professional designers, marketers, PR professionals, artists and expanding in various other cities of India like Ahmedabad, Hyderabad, Bangalore, Kolkata, Jaipur and Chandigarh, as well as other Tier II cities. There’s international expansion on the cards too in Saudi Arabia, Iran, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore and Egypt.
“We currently operate from Indore, Mumbai and Kuwait offices while our allies are present in Chennai, Delhi and Dubai,” says Abdul, adding “We are working on more designs which are not just attractive but also deliver the TSAR experience. We have plans in the pipeline to increase the collection and offer more choices to our patrons.”
Abdul, an alumnus of Shishukunj International School Indore, did his BMS from Narsee Monjee College, Mumbai and M.Com from the University of Mumbai. He has worked in Home Décor and ezzybazaar.com. Haider, on the other hand, has done his BMS and M.Com from Hinduja College, Mumbai and has worked in Al Jawhara Press, Wood Ware and New Carpet House. The two believe that “brand is not created overnight but after a gradual series of multiple functions which should play simultaneously.”