It has been a while since we did a post on ‘ A Moment with’ section. The last interview we did was with the founder of Roue Watches. Today we have a new addition to this section. We have had the honour to interview the founder of Sternglas Watches. You may remember the review we did the Sternglas Automatic 38mm, unfortunately the automatic models have been discontinued and replaced with 4 brand new models. the Naos, Junis, Zirkel and Topograph. We will be reviewing the Topograph model soon, but for now, do enjoy the interview we did with Dustin Fontaine, the founder of Sternglas Watches.
Who is Dustin Fontaine
My name is Dustin Fontaine and I am the founder of Sternglas. I have founded Sternglas in 2016. When I was in highschool I was earning some money at a famous German watch company. That was the first time when I got in touch to the art of watchmaking. The wish to establish my own watch brand came in 2011. Today, we are a young and passionate team of eleven which I am very proud of.
Why did you create Sternglas Watches?
I was always very interested in Vintage watches. When I design watches, I am always trying to get inspired by them. But more importantly, it was Bauhaus that made me want to establish my own watch brand. Bauhaus design and its principles were always were remarkable for me. I always thought, that Bauhaus design has a calming effect for the eye as the clear lines and minimalistic shapes do not strain the eyes. All Bauhaus designs appear harmonious to me. However, Bauhaus design watches belong to luxury goods in the watch market and are therefore very expensive all that says little for the state of the Bauhaus principles: a design for everyone. With Sternglas, I wanted to get back the Bauhaus principles to the watch world.
What makes a Sternglas watches desirable?
I think what makes Sternglas watches is their clean and minimal design, combined with high-quality materials such as sapphire glass and valued clock movements. But most importantly, it is a delicate and sophisticated Bauhaus watch for an affordable price.
What has been your best day at Sternglas Watches?
My best day was the day when I held the very first Sternglas watch in my hands. That was in August 2016. For me that moment was already everything to me. However, the beginning was the hardest for me as I did not know at all how this will turn out. Therefore, it was such a lucky day cause when I held the first watch because I immediately know: this is going to work.
What has been your worst day at Sternglas Watches?
That was the 22 December 2016. There was a production error in the first batch that I have received and I had to send all the remaining stock back to the factory. The remaining watches had to fit into approximately one moving box and I had to drive through the typical weather of Hamburg with cold pouring rain. Initially, it was my plan to celebrate the Kickstarter success by Christmas…but that obviously did not happen.
What has been the challenges in starting Sternglas Watches?
To find the right manufacturers that you can truly rely on. Also, to optimize the products in a way that satisfies my claims and expectations. One would not suspect how much detail work lies within one product. Finally, to market and to sell the product. It took some time until the customers knew our brand and trusted in our quality.
How did you raise money to start Sternglas Watches?
With the help of the crowdfunding platform Kickstarter and also I have worked as a web designer before Sternglas. In that job I have saved a lot of money in order to start this business.
How you do find the inspiration and design for the watches?
As already mentioned, I find inspiration with vintage or old Russian vintage watches. However, most of my inspirations I find when I travel. I went to Mallorca last month and both nature and architecture give me all the creative energy I need in order to create new designs. That is why I also work all the time. I will go to Lisbon in November to create new models for 2019.
Are you a creator, innovator, businessman or entrepreneur?
That is a difficult question. I guess I am combining all four types. However, I would see the creator as the most suitable description for me. Building and creating new products is my biggest passion.
What do you prefer, quartz or automatic?
I think that both quartz and automatic have their reason to exist. Both types have their pro and cons. An automatic watch us of course very exciting with all its small cogs and its techniques. With regards to manufacturing, the quartz watch has the benefit that it can be constructed flatter and cheaper as well. For customers who prefer to focus on aesthetics, the quartz is the perfect fit for them. I really like both, but I have a tendency to prefer an automatic.
What is the plan for the future for Sternglas Watches?
To create good and convenient watches. I want to create a fascinating collection of exciting and individual designs. When visiting our website, it should mean pure happiness when clicking through all the different exciting “individuals” for all watch enthusiasts. I am aiming to not leave out the smallest angle of watchmaking, of course, on the premise of affordability. Currently, we are already working on watches with Swiss clock works, a Chronograph… but now I am opening my mouth too wide…
Apart from Sternglas, what is your other favorite watch brand?
I love the British brand FARER. Totally different from Sternglas, but really exciting models. I am a huge fan. Also, the vintage brand Poljot which is the first Russian watch brand. Back in the days, simple and honest watches were manufactured for ordinary people. My biggest role model however is the company MeisterSinger, in which I worked for a couple of years. Manfred had created a completely new category, for example with the one-hand watch. A really great unique selling characteristic. What I like the most however, is the very humble and technical character of the No 1. A genuine timepiece.
What advice do you have for people starting a new business or watch brand?
Please stop with Daniel Wellington knock-offs. I always see people who are still trying. It really does not work and is a waste of effort. Have a good and individual concept combined with the courage to pull it off. Be brave and courageous, and really dare to challenge yourself to start your business.
We wonder who famous German watch company is? We would like to say a huge thank you to Dustin Fontaine to take some time from his busy schedule and answer some of our questions, we really appreciate it!
We hope you have enjoyed reading the interview and found some useful tips. Do look out for the review of the Topograph coming soon!
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