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A CONVERSATION WITH OLIVIER BIRAULT, FOUNDER OF WALTERI

A FASCINATION FOR THE GOLDEN ERA OF WATCHMAKING

What gave you the inspiration for Walteri?

I have always been fascinated by the golden era of watchmaking: the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s.

During this period, most of the iconic watches we know today have been created.

Be it a diving watch, a dual time, a chronograph… watches of that era were created with a professional purpose in mind: exploring the sea, beating a speed record, landing on the moon, piloting an airplane... I found this a great inspiration.

What is the philosophy behind Walteri?

At Walteri, our goal is to reinterpret yesterday’s classics. Hence the Oceaner 41 pays tribute to the most iconic swiss designs in a smart way. Walteri is all about making beautiful watches that are iconic, versatile, vibrant and accessible. Our tag line, Time is on your side, summarizes well our philosophy to consider time as a precious ally.

Talk us through the characteristics of the Oceaner 41, the first Walteri model.

The Oceaner 41 is a diving inspired quartz watch with a 3 hands-date japanese movement. The case is 41mm and it is waterproof to 3ATM. The design is contemporay classic and the twist comes from the variety of straps that are available: leather, steel and nato. The collection comprises 16 models with 2 dials, black & silver, including 11 nato straps that are easily interchangeable.

The nato straps are very popular these days...

For a good reason. They are versatile, affordable and offer a great modern look. For the Oceaner 41, they are perfect as you can change the personality of the watch in no time. Put a black strap and it is great for a day at work, put a blue one and it is perfect for a casual outing. Put an orange one and head to the beach. We propose 11 different colors so everybody can find its own. And the selection will grow…

What about the leather and steel version?

The Oceaner 41 is so well balanced that every strap fits it perfectly. We’ve designed a great mesh stainless steel strap that gives the watch an incredible look. Mesh straps (or Milanese as they are also often called) are very popular these days because they are really comfortable. They are also quite unisex and strongly appeals to women.

For the leather strap, we’ve chosen a more classic approach with a perfect black croco. It’s elegant, classy and perfect for men or women at any time of the day.

What is your business model and what are your plans for the future?

We have a click and mortar strategy where internet and retail should nourish each other. It is important that customers can touch and feel the watch for real, talk to retailers in nice shops and equally important that they can easily order online via their mobile. For the future, we will develop the collection in terms of color, size and functionality.

Who is the typical Walteri customer?

I really wanted to create a watch that everybody will want to wear: men, women, generation X, Y, Z... The Oceaner 41 fits the bill perfectly ; you can even borrow your partner’s one and just change the strap to get your “own” look.

Thanks to its very competitive price, it will also appeal to every budget including young generation ones.

Why the name Walteri?

The Walteri is a nice blue electric fish originally from the Amazon. As our first watch, the Oceaner 41 is inspired by the sea and uses a quartz movement ; I thought it was a nice “clin d’oeil”. Also blue is my favorite color and it suits very well our watches. Moreover, the name sounds great, it is easy to pronounce in every language and has a vintage feel that fits well with the brand.

You mention earlier your love of watchmaking; what are the iconic watches that stands out for you?

Again, we come back to the golden era of watchmaking. Most people will think of Rolex of course with the likes of the Daytona, GMT Master, Submariner... these are great watches. But let’s not forget Omega with the Speedmaster, Blancpain with the 50 Fathoms or Breitling with the Navitimer... Then in the 70’s, you have the incredible trilogy from Gerald Genta, a master designer and great inspiration, with the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak, the Patek Nautilus and the IWC Ingenieur. In the 80’s, the Swatch was a real game changer. Closer to us, Richard Mille, Urwerk and MB&F are really pushing the boundaries of mechanical design... I like that. And the Apple Watch is pushing the boundaries of connectivity, I like that too.

Fair enough but if you had to pick only one...

It would be difficult for me to choose between a Royal Oak 41mm steel version with a blue dial and a Submariner 50th Anniversary with a green bezel...

What is your favorite movie?

The Thomas Crown Affair with Steve McQueen

Who is your favorite actor?

Steve McQueen

What is your favorite sport?

To play: Golf. To watch: Formula 1

Who is your favorite sportman?

I have 2: Ayrton Senna and Roger Federer

What is your favorite object?

The Eames chair

What is your favorite city?

Dubai

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