Here, at AUGUSTMAN, we love our watches. If we had been blessed by the lottery, either genetically or by the statisticians at Singapore Pools, we would be sporting a new timepiece on our wrist every few months. Unfortunately, we can only save up for one watch every year and look longingly at the pictures of our holy grails on our Instagram feed.
Three men – a personal trainer, a lawyer and a business development expert – is making our dream possible with TenTwo Club, a membership programme for watch lovers who don’t have the net worth of Gotham City’s masked vigilante. For a fee starting from $179 a month, you get to wear a new watch every month.
The idea is not new. Older players such as Watch Gang and Eleven James have been in the business for quite a while.
We chatted with the founders, Dan Kruimel (DK), Ronald Chew and Dan Mills (DM) regarding TenTwo Club and asked them some difficult questions, including what makes them different from their competitors.
(left to right) Dan Kruimel, Ronald Chew and Dan Mills
How did the three of you meet?
DM: I met Ronald through a watch appreciation group. We have similar taste in watches and have stayed in contact ever since.
DK: Dan Mills and I met through a group of mutual friends a few years ago. Despite confusion caused by having two Dan’s in the group we get along quite well (laughs).
Ron: I’m a watch-loving personal trainer. My love for watches started in 2013 when I was shopping for my wedding watch and it’s grown from there. Dan Mills is a lawyer and Dan Kruimel works in business development.
How did the idea for TenTwo come about?
DK: I’ve always liked watches, but never knew much about them. Meeting Dan Mills (who is watch-obsessed!) was eye-opening and unfortunately for me, pretty wallet-opening too (laughs). With his advice, my first watch buy was a Tudor Black Bay, which I absolutely love.
And just like that I was hooked. I wanted to start my own personal collection and Dan Mills was selling a Seiko MM300 at the time. He loaned it to me for a week to see if I’d be interested in buying. It wasn’t right for me, but I really enjoyed having a different watch to wear. I mentioned this to Dan and we started thinking, “Is there a business idea in this?”
Are the watches from your personal collections? Or were they bought specifically for the business?
DM: All the watches were bought specifically for TenTwo Club – it was the most fun I’ve had shopping in a while. Seeing the collection come together, watch by watch, was awesome.
How were the watches selected?
Ron: It’s a combination of instinct and experience. Dan and I are both avid collectors and have so many friends who are into their watches, so we knew exactly what we would want to see in a collection like this.
DM: We wanted the collection to appeal to watch junkies like us but also a first-time buyer (or renter in this case!), who’s just starting out.
DK: I think I was the guinea pig for the TenTwo Club. Ultimately we wanted to create a collection with proper variety that our members would never get bored of.
Are there any plans to expand the collection?
DK: The expansion is going to be driven by our members so we can build the collection around feedback. If members are dying to wear a particular watch, we’ll add it if we can.
What happens if a member accidentally breaks the watch he’s wearing? Or scratches it? Or God forbid, loses it?
DM: We want every member to treat the watch as if it’s their own. Obviously over time, the watches are going to pick up a few scratches (or “patina” as it’s known) and we’re okay with that – after all, watches are for wearing and not keeping in boxes.
DK: This is all covered in our membership agreement which we personally go through with our members upon application.
From a business perspective, $179 over a year equates to $2,148, which is a hefty amount to pay to temporarily borrow a watch and not own it.
DM: Having access to a collection like this is something that a lot of watch lovers dream of, but most will never be able to afford. Building my own personal collection took many years, more money than I care to think about and more than a few mistakes. So being able to wear this calibre of watches from day one is something I wish I could have done.
Ron: For a first-time buyer, the biggest mistake we see over and over is buying badly. Something that looks great in the shop might not fit under your cuff. Or you might not like the watch as much as you initially did after a few weeks. That’s why we made a monthly membership – it’s a perfect amount of time to really try out a watch. You can easily lose several thousand dollars when you buy new. You’re better off spending that same money figuring out what you like and what suits you.
DK: We’ve priced the membership to be accessible (it’s around the same price as a gym membership) but also covers our costs including servicing the watches, personal delivery and expanding the collection.
What if a member wants to cut short his membership?
DK: We get that circumstances change so we’ve allowed for this scenario in our membership agreement.
Will you be offering a consignment programme? Or is there a different direction that you’re hoping to take the business to?
DM: We think the consignment idea is awesome. That said, for now we are focusing on creating the best watch subscription service in Singapore.
DK: One of the big differences for us in Singapore is how much more immediate and personalised the whole service can be. The other players in this space are offering two- or three-monthly rotation, but we wanted to get a new watch on our members’ wrists every month.
Ron: This isn’t about getting large numbers of faceless subscribers for us; we’re looking to create something that has an exclusive community feel.