There is always time to follow your dreams. After facing redundancy, Swedish entrepreneur Kalle Sax decided to become a professional watchmaker and turn his into reality.
Spurred on by a life-long fascination for technology and mechanics, Kalle became interested in watches as a teenager. He gained further insight into its complex mechanics when he worked in a factory producing cogwheels. Kalle bought a few watches and started to open them up; curious to what he would find.
“It is like opening Pandora’s box. There is a small but very fascinating world inside,” he explains.
From dream to reality
For years, Kalle worked in construction and production in heavy industry whilst maintaining his watchmaking hobby. When he was faced with redundancy after a big organisational reconstruction within the company he was working for, Kalle felt that it was his chance to follow his true passion.
Kalle’s love for watches took him to Switzerland and France, where he established good contacts. He learned the ways of the trade but also realised that there was always room for growth.
“I gained a valuable insight into the industry and soon learned what was feasible and not.”
After making a prototype, he contacted a specialist watch company in Switzerland which agreed to collaborate with Kalle despite his small scale business. It would be the first collaboration of many. Kalle soon established a sizable network of different manufacturers, all supplying him with the tiny but crucial components which when all put together combine to make a watch. Kalle was finally able to make his very first timepiece.
The making of a watch
Sapphire crystal, bezel, lugs. In a way, the world of watches is greater than its final product. Delicate parts of miniature dimensions are put together with precision so that they are able to endure decades of pressure, wearing and tearing.
“When I sit down with the loupe and look into the tiny world inside the watch, I get a sense of complete serenity. I find it highly meditative.”-Kalle Sax
“A watch is still one of the most complex machines there is,” says Kalle.
He has chosen to work with original 19th-century tools when constructing his watches, which he does in his home in Bjärred, Sweden. Not for any nostalgic reasons, but merely because they are still the best and serve their purpose.
Watchmaking is a big job which requires a lot of patience. Working methodically is key.
“You have to be completely focused and not stress the process.
“If the screwdriver slips, you have ruined the component and have to start over again. Nobody wants a watch with a scratch on it.”
Kalle compares his watch making to meditation; something that calls for absolute focus and peace.
“When I sit down with the loupe and look into the tiny world inside the watch, I get a sense of complete serenity. I find it highly meditative.”
Not only do the different parts need to be treated correctly, put together they also have to show the accurate time.
“In 24 hours, there are 86 400 seconds. According to the international chronometer standard, you are allowed a minus four seconds or plus six seconds error meaning that the watch can either be maximum six seconds too fast or four seconds too slow in those 86 400 seconds.
“It all tallies down to a fraction of a millisecond, which a watch is allowed to be inaccurate. Precision is absolutely vital when it comes to watches,” says Kalle.
To help him proceed with his business dream, Trygghetsrådet (Swedish foundation which offers assistance to redundant staff in the private sector) advised Kalle to consider protecting his trademark. His brand of watches, which he had named Vincent & Scales, was not covered by any trademark registration. Through Trygghetsrådet, Kalle was put in touch with IP firm Awapatent and Patent Consultant Julia Mannesson and Attorney at Law Niclas Dahlberg.
“I panicked over the fact that I hadn’t protected my trademark after putting so much work into it. It wasn’t a difficult choice. I wanted to be able to sleep at night,” Kalle laughs.
The EU trademark registration for Vincent & Scales was approved in December 2016. This was a milestone for Kalle and his business.
“It inspires me to keep on going. It feels very real now.”
So far Kalle has sold four watches with leather straps, all delivered to their new owners in beautiful wooden boxes with warranty and certification. He wants to expand his business in the future and develop his own clockwork with date and year.
“This is what I want to do in life. Watchmaking is my passion. I love making something that other people will use. It humbles me to see somebody actually wearing my watch on their wrist.”
Kalle wants to work further on his brand Vincent & Scales, which should stand for absolute quality and symbolise the balance between mechanical perfection and artwork. Despite his doubtless talent for watch making, Kalle remains humble:
“Success to me is when you feel satisfied with your own performance and it is also appreciated by others. You don’t have to be the biggest and best in order to be successful.
“And for me, following my dream is to succeed.” ■
Photo: Andreas Winblad