We caught up with Daniel Niederer, Founder and CEO of Seven Friday, goes by the moniker @SevenFridayGuy, aka Danimal. Dan was in town to launch the SevenFriday Kuka P3/07 and to open the Seven Friday Space in Raffles City recently, and had a fun time chatting up with him. Eavesdrop into our lively tête-à-tête.
We first began with Dan’s thinking about the what SevenFriday represents to him. What are the values? We started off to a good start when Dan expounded on the philosophy of SevenFriday. Imagine getting up on a Monday but you feel so invigorated and excited with your work that it feels like a Friday. That is the spirit of what SevenFriday represents. Fun, attitude. Fun. It is a lifestyle brand, and remain so, for those who seize each day. And it is so evident in the person of Dan…full of vigour, bursting with fun. See for yourself in the photographs.
Of course, SevenFriday started with industrial looking watches which captured the world’s imagination. A square in a round, with electic colourful designs, and ineresting elements. Like the Kuka, which was launched when Dan was in Singapore, and where we caught him for this chat.
Dan revealed that it just so happened that the first product is a watch, but it could have been anything else. He loved watches, and that’s where they started. But they always had the intention to branch out. and so they did:
In 2016, they collaborated with a Shawn Stockman of Boys II Men and Reto Fürst to offer a limited series of 10 guitars. Fürst has been building custom guitars with chart topping quality for over three decades. Over a whiskey one evening, Dan floated the idea of a partnering to produce a SevenFriday guitar. And they did it!
And the following year, they collaborated Susudio leather jackets and artist Rocketbyz who hand painted the jackets in a limited edition run of 23 leather jackets.
But these projects were one off, and offered very special limited editions.
How were the products selected? Whatever had interested Dan then. And here was the principle…do what you like best.
But after the initial success of the two very limited collaborations, what’s next?
Dan conceived the idea of a fun bracelet, and planned this as a more strategic product. And this was announced in summer of 2017 after 2 years of development. A series of sunglasses also began its introduction in 2017 during the SevenFriday Games in Chiangmai, and for 2018, a whole collection of sunglasses will be introduced.
So anything goes? Not really, says Dan. If it fits the attitude, if it has an industrial inspiration, perhaps. What other products are in the plan? Perhaps jeans. Maybe sneakers. All things close to Dan’s heart.
Go to market strategy
The early success of the SevenFriday brand, especially in watches owe much to the base philosophy of promoting using an online strategy. The brand first caught the world’s attention due to this strong start with social media. Viral from the earliest days, it caught on a sub-culture of its own, and quickly grew. The moniker @SevenFridayGuy was played to perfection by Dan himself. He threw in the Danimal nickname for good measure, and the names
stuck worked like a charm.
Today, Dan says the strategy remains online focused. However, he is also a firm believer that products, especially lifestyle ones need to be experienced. And to this goal, Dan came up with idea of the SevenFriday Space. The idea was not to replicate a boring boutique concept, but to provide a concept space. A lounge, restaurant, a space for customers to chill out and a space just to experience the SevenFriday concept. No sales, no pressure to buy. Just chill.
So the first SevenFriday Space began. The first was a restaurant Space…in Jakarta. And more being planned. The space had to be localised. For example in Hong Kong, the SevenFriday Space is a coffee bar pop up store in Queens Road. In Zurich, took a different persona, and was designed to serve Vietnamese Street food. And for people to chill and hang out. And the space in Singapore, while watches, bracelets, sunglasses were still offered, they also include a bar to dispense coconut water. And location of these spaces are also critical. They had to be in places with high traffic.
Of course, we don’t forget to talk about the watches. Dan offered that the watches are designed to offer a visual complication, instead of the traditional haute horlogerie mechanical complication.
And they try to use technology in a special way. Like the NFS chip embedded in every SevenFriday watch.The NFS chip project was initially fraught with challenges. The original idea was give the watch a life of its own. “Like Facebook for your watch”, Dan exclaimed! Coupled with other technology like GPS, it could geo-tag the locations the watch, and hence the owner has been, and become the social face of the watch. The rollout is still underway, but the first application is to register the watch with SevenFriday.
Compared to “Facebook for your watch” the use of NFS technology to merely register your watch may seem boring. But nonetheless, it is critical to fighting fake SevenFriday watches. Fakes began popping up all over as the SevenFriday watches became more popular. And the chip provided a way to check the authenticity of the watches.
Fighting fakes is almost a full time job, given the initial success of the SevenFriday watches. Dan told us that in one 4 month period, the team took down 20,000 links selling fake SevenFridays.
The watches also sport a range of accessories to fulfil a function. An example is the HDB, or the Heavy Duty Box. A perspex box, created to take the SevenFriday watch under water. But proofed to be a hit in making a statement. The HDB was huge, and stood prominently on the wrist when attached. The first generation did not even fulfill the water proofing intent, as it was notorious for leaking in the field. But Dan and team worked swiftly and a second generation, the HDB2 managed to allow the watches within to be taken for swims, and snorkeling trips.
Dan is famous for saying, “Don’t buy a SevenFriday because it is easy to read the time”. It is neither the most accurate time piece ever made. But buy it for the lifestyle aspect. The fun dimension. And that it pokes fun at itself and the establishment by going against the grain.
This attitude is a reflection of Dan’s character. Fun loving, easy going and always willing. For some reason, Dan professed, the watches appeal to people from all walks. From the student looking to buy the first mechanical watch to seasoned collectors looking to add some fun attitude. And for people who already have everything. Many clients come with Richard Mille and Hublots on their wrists, and walk away with SevenFridays.
Don’t be square
SevenFriday watches are designed from the onset to take on the norms of the horology industry.
- Square watches don’t sell. So SevenFriday based their watches on the basic square shape.
- Chronographs are popular. So SevenFriday vowed never to make chronograph.
- Make watches easy to read. So SevenFriday made the P03, which required some basic arithmetic to tell the time.
And thus it continues. SevenFriday continues to buck the trend. Heavy on Social Media platforms like Instagram, like Snapchat. Heavy on experiential spaces. Heavy on attitude. And creative products.
We see SevenFriday as an interesting brand, with a strong attitude. One which is fun. One which is different. And to be frank, even though it does not totally fit into our comfort genre of haute horlogerie, we really love the products. And wish Dan well, and that the SevenFriday brand continues to be successful. Bravo!
Actually… I was the one that started calling Dan ‘Danimal’ at the SevenFriday Games in 2015, inspired by ‘Stanimal’ (Stan Wawrinka). He’ll confirm that, hehe.