When we heard that LUM-TEC Watches was making custom watches, only one thing came to mind: The Secret Entourage watch by LUM-TEC. So we decided to call Chris Wiegand, the President of LUM-TEC Watches and see if we could work together to design the watch we had envisioned. Chris is extremely passionate about his watches, therefore made it a no brainer to showcase how one man made all his dreams a reality.
While Chris Wiegand was helping us design our watch, we took a few minutes to discuss his vision and passion for his company, and got a clear view of where he started but more importantly where he sees his company going. His story will illustrate how vision and determination are the main ingredients for his success. Enjoy!
How did the LUM-TEC idea come about? Who thought of it? Why?
For many years we have built up a very well respected reputation for having one of the top reluming services in the world. We already had a huge client base for custom made watches as well. Combining the custom modifications, top level luminous applications, and world grade parts at an affordable cost for the consumer seemed like the right thing to do. I came up with the idea for the brand and we had a lot of help along the way from our customers, forums, etc. All of the feedback and input on our concepts was taken into account and actually put into production. The reason we created the brand was to highlight what our company, Wiegand Custom Watch, LLC, is capable of producing for the masses.
LUM-TEC sells some nice stuff at very affordable prices. Your designs are actually as attractive as Panerai, Bell & Ross and more. Can you share what you guys go through to decide what model to make next?
Thanks! We actually make hundreds of designs and choose from the best when all side by side. We throw the top ones on our forums and let our fans tell us what they like and what to change. It is a very long and sleepless process and probably not the most efficient, but it ensures each product that hits the market is as good as it can be.
How do you offer such a high quality movement and design at such cheap prices?
This one is easy. Low overhead. Most brands are spending hundreds of thousands to millions of dollars on advertising/shows/fairs/etc. All this money goes into the price of your watch. We spend less than ten thousand dollars per year in advertising, use the money to make a fantastic product, and we let word of mouth sell our products. This keeps the prices at a level most anyone can afford. We put the extra dollars into the watch materials and quality finishing instead of the marketing.
There seems to be a very small production number of each of your watches, why is that? Doesn’t it make sense to sell more when you first start?
I don’t believe so. We keep our quantities very low (50-400 units each model) to make the watches more exclusive and protect resale value. It is a better value to the customer knowing that they may be able to sell their watch after 2 years for what they paid or more when the models are no longer available. We have already seen many of our sold out watches sell pre-owned for several hundred dollars more than what they were purchased for new.
We know LUM-TEC to make quality pieces, but can you tell our readers WHY LUM-TEC is better?
Most people will already recognize our luminous materials and applications as the best in the industry, but that is actually not the main focus of the watch. We use only the best materials we can find for each component. We take the hard route, and select the best suppliers for every individual component. In most cases we have 10-12 suppliers of parts for one watch! For example there may be a case factory that makes great casebacks, and poor cases, we may use their casebacks and use an entirely different factory to produce our case. With our limited productions, we have only one shot to make them right as there is no “next year’s model” to refine/improve. Our watches are designed with the feedback and input of the people who wear them, and expertly crafted to the highest possible standards based on the input we get for the designs. People who are accustomed to high end luxury watches will find our products finishing to be as good or better in most cases than some watches costing more than 10x the price.
How did you and your team get started?
I started working on watches about 8 years ago and experimenting with luminous materials and dial applications. I picked this up naturally and realized I had a rare skill for doing fine detail work. This quickly grew into a business within just a year. I got a name for myself after just a few years of servicing, modifying, and reluming a few thousand watches. My father in law and I decided to officially open Wiegand Custom Watch, LLC. In 2006 we also supplied custom made movements, custom components, modifications, luminous compounds, rare parts, and full custom built luxury watches in precious metals. After the first year it was taking up all of our time so we had to hire some help, quit our normal day jobs (we were working all night literally 7 days), and run it full time. We expanded into OEM/ODM/private label production and have been quite successful in making and supplying watches and components for many other brands. When we launched the LUM-TEC brand in November 2008, we sold out of every watch in just a matter of a few months! Our business has since tripled in size since we launched our own LUM-TEC brand.
Was there a particular time you felt LUM-TEC wasn’t going to make it?
After the first initial models launched, more than half sold in the first 45 days as many were pre-ordered. After that it was rather slow for sales for a bit. 3-4 sales per day only during the holiday season. We were a bit concerned but would not give up. After the holidays, a website called uncrate.com did a product review and we saw close to 30,000 hits on our website within 3 hours and more orders than we could imagine were coming in from every direction! Things picked back up stronger than ever after this huge boost in exposure to the mainstream and we quickly sold out of everything we had available. After hundreds of product reviews all over the internet started showing up, we knew we had good brand exposure and felt comfortable enough to triple production for the next year.
What inspired you to start your own watch line? What keeps you motivated?
I have always been a watch collector and had the dream to own my own watch brand since I was 14 and got my first watch (I quickly stripped it to pieces and refinished every individual part for fun). The great reviews we get for our products, nice emails and phone calls from our customers, and knowing we have thousands of people watching for what we will bring out next keeps me motivated to keep going! I want to give our fans more than they ask for and I am very driven to do so. I love my work, I love our customers, and I enjoy every minute of my job! I prefer doing watch design or talking to customers over watching TV, going out at night, etc. It’s just what I do!
What is your definition of success? Do you feel successful and why?
To me, success is happiness, enjoying life, worldwide recognition, financial security, and achieving personal goals. I feel very successful in these regards. Every goal I set to happen in 5-10 years seems to happen in 1 year or less. I work extremely focused towards the goals I set and just love every minute of it no matter how much work needs to happen to get there. I am living my own dream so of course I feel very successful.
Is there any particular day, you wish you would have taken a different path?
Any major plans for the next 5 years for LUM-TEC?
We plan to work a bit more on distribution and get into more retail stores and into different countries as I feel our products would work in many different markets. We also plan to start attending some of the big fairs and shows as well. Every year we will continue to have all new products.
Tell us about yourself, your background and hobbies.
I am 31 years old, born in Ohio, no college or special training on anything. I quickly learn and pick things up by intensely reading, practicing, and studying them. For example, I learned and nearly mastered Solidworks 3D CAD in just 2 days after not being able to enroll in an 8 month college course for the program. I focus and learn. Besides watch design and running our business which I almost consider a hobby because I like doing it so much, I love cars, motorcycles, and anything mechanical is of great interest to me! I started racing Motocross when I was 13, and built and raced my first car when I was 16. I love tearing into perfectly good cars and building them how I feel they should have been built.
Tell us about your passion for cars and watches.
I love cars! I currently drive a modified 400+hp EVO X MR. I am looking for a new ZO6 next since I’ve never had a big block muscle car. I do lots of track events and driving events. I think I have driven almost every performance car at some point and I do all the track events. I had a huge watch collection but have sold them all except for our brands which I like to keep serial #1s for my own collection. Some regulars in my watch box are always Bell & Ross, Panerai, Rolex, Omega, and IWC. I have some inspiration from all of these brands since I always liked the look and feel of them.
If you could buy one watch company out there and re-market or re-design their brand, who would it be and why?
Swatch Group. There was a time not too long ago when this company readily supplied unfinished movements (ETA) and components to other brands. They have been phasing this out and spiking movement prices out of control to eliminate smaller brands from being able to access them and make it in the market. I would go in and open the doors back up to help everyone out! I would make it the way it was just 5 years ago. The watch industry in general needs it to happen. I would cut prices in half as they are not realistic (Please make your vote for Chris Wiegand to be CEO of Swatch Group please ).
We have asked you to exclusively make a Secret Entourage version of your latest piece, what can you tell us about that particular model?
This will be a very limited edition of our upcoming Bull45 A7 with the Secret Entourage logo on the dial and special case back markings as well.
More to come on this for sure as we unveil The Secret Entourage LumTec in August 2010.
We want to thank Chris Wiegand and the LUM-TEC team for creating some great watches and helping inspire all entrepreneurs out there. We really enjoyed hearing their success story and also understanding more about their excellent watches. We look forward to seeing them grow into an empire that competes with Panerai and IWC, which we are sure they will reach in no time with Chris’s vision of LUM-TEC.
Visit their websites to see and order their collection of watches:
Use coupon code ‘secret2′ for additional savings on your LUM-TEC order online.