Zurich - His project was fully funded in just 30 minutes. Now – after two months - Patrick Hohmann has raised more than 768,000 CHF. As such, his start-up, Werenbach, is not only the most successful Swiss company on Kickstarter (the world’s biggest crowdfunding platform); it has also successfully made the jump from small local business to the international market. How? With mechanical watches made from genuine space rockets.
Local project wins support from all over the world
Patrick Hohmann produces mechanical watches from genuine space rockets using material recovered following their missions into space. All production runs occur on a micro scale, with a total of around 60 watches being produced last year. Having already sold 1,230 not-yet-produced watches (768,000 CHF) via the crowdfunding platform within a period of two months, Patrick has returned to Kickstarter to present the prototypes of the new EARTH COLLECTION, for which customers will wait six months for delivery in return for a one-off pre-order discount. Thanks to this support, the 8-metre-squared Werenbach workshop in Zurich was able to be brought to life.
Crowdfunding as a third funding possibility
For small and medium-sized enterprises like Werenbach – who are not typically able to rely on the support of banks or investors – crowdfunding platforms offer an alternative way to achieve their goals. “Since Werenbach focuses on the production of unique pieces, this new and considerably more premium collection has presented a few challenges – namely that we are required to produce large numbers and yet still find a way to finance the production in advance. Kickstarter is a platform that enjoys international recognition. It allows us to access potential buyers – those who might be interested in purchasing a watch that doesn’t exist yet,” says Patrick. But there’s a flipside: less than 5% of all crowdfunding projects hit the 100,000 CHF mark. As Patrick sees it, Werenbach’s success lies in a product that is at once affordable and offers greater authenticity than others on the market. It’s also down to a refined digital strategy and a great deal of preparation work.
From outer space to Switzerland – A piece of adventure on your wrist
The base material for the new collection comes from the Kazakh Steppe, where Soyuz rockets begin their journeys into space. The route to orbit encompasses three stages, the first of which is jettisoned at a height of between 46 and 85 km. The booster and fairing fall to Earth and land in a military exclusion zone, where Patrick Hohmann recovers the material before transporting it to Switzerland and converting the outer shell into watch components. The material in the new collection originates from Soyuz MS-02, which transported three astronauts to the ISS on 19th October 2016. This is the captivating story behind the watches. What’s more, no one watch is the same as any other, since the faces are cut directly from the rocket’s outer shell and thus retain the original colour and any original traces of use. The design of the watches is partially inspired by the rockets themselves.