RENARD is smart, seductive and confident. This Thursday, the Amsterdam based watch brand will launch the new Elite Day Date collection at Hutspot Van Woustraat. We took this opportunity to have a conversation with Ashwin Blauw, one of the founders of RENARD and distributor of many beautiful watch brands in The Benelux. Expect design talk, a bit of French heritage and valuable tips on how to prevent a bad bargain.
Hi Ashwin. Where does the name RENARD come from?
‘Renard’ is French for fox. From the early start, we knew that we wanted to create a product that is both classic and refined. We felt that a French connotation was appropriate, so we started looking into names and places that connected with what we felt RENARD should be heading towards. My business associate Paul was cycling through the dunes on a weekend when a fox passed by.
What is it about the fox that connects so well with what you are trying to communicate?
First of all, it is a beautiful name to look at. It sounds chique and elegant. More importantly, the fox is a very interesting animal to study. They are clever, seductive, sexy and very independent. We aim for our watches to evoke this same feeling. Furthermore, when studying old mythology in Japan or Ireland, the fox is often portrayed as a human guide. A watch can also be seen as a form of guidance.
Can you name some of RENARD’s distinctive features?
All RENARD watches are designed with a vertically brushed dial. When wearing the watch, the dial catches light what results in a dynamic shine. Next to this, we have made the indices and hands mat. They absorb light to make the watch less bling, resulting in a more subdued style. Furthermore, all watches have a slightly domed glass. We have done a lot of research into the past and tried to find elements that could still be relevant today. Subtle details can really make a huge difference and it is interesting for consumers to continue exploring little details that make their watch feel more unique.
Is there a specific time or era that is interesting to study when looking at design inspiration for watches?
Nowadays, an increasing part of our industry is starting to focus on SMART technologies. However, we like to see our watches as more of a style accessory. Functionality and quality is important, but the way it makes a person feel is even more key. Looking at original time keeping from the 50’s, 60’s or 70’s can therefore be very valuable, because it creates both a feeling of nostalgia and gives you interesting design ideas.
How does working as a distributer for other well known watch brands influence the way you approach RENARD?
Both roles actually compliment each other very well. Doing the promotion and distribution for other watch brands has created new ideas on how to do things differently in this industry. Paul and me consciously waited many years until we finally gathered all the knowledge we needed to launch RENARD back in 2015. Working for your own brand is obviously more challenging, but it is also more creative and very rewarding. As a distributer, we only work in The Benelux. With RENARD, we have started to also sell in other countries such as France, Canada and Japan.
How do people in France react to the brand?
I was very interested to find out myself! Luckily, people have responded very positively to both the brand and the name. If we would have named our brand ‘Vos’ in The Netherlands, people would have probably not had the same romantic connotation. Luckily, the animal ‘Renard’ in France does have a similar romantic value to it.
Can you tell us something about the new Elite Day Date collection?
The Elite Day Date collection is a new series of watches that indicate both time and date. This feature was revolutionary when it was debuted back in the 50’s. Nowadays, this function has been replaced by other technologies and, therefore, we do not really see it often in our watches any longer. This is a shame, because it can add a lot of aesthetic value when designed nicely.
The watch is very refined in size, having a dial width of 38,5mm. You can choose to view the date in either English or French, which we thought was a nice little nod towards our French name.
Choosing a watch is obviously a very personal process. Do you have any tips on what to keep in mind when making such a decision?
Some people tend to wear a lot of jewelry, so I would definitely advice to make sure that they both still match. Moreover, small and slim watches work better than large and bulky ones if you aim to keep it stylish and sophisticated. A wrist has a small surface and you can easily go too big. Furthermore, I would never go for a color that is close to my own skin. A bit of contrast is always important, I feel.
Any personal do’s or dont’s?
You can never go wrong with a clean black dial, silver case and steel strap. Our new Elite Black Silver Day Date watch is a good example. It is elegant, but also has a lot of character due to the sturdy milanese strap.
Where would you like to see RENARD in the future?
Commerciality is important for RENARD, but I would not necessarily want to see the brand becoming a huge machine. I like it’s authenticity and how it caters to a group of people that is a bit more niche. That is why I think we are such a good match with Hutspot. We are currently exploring the opportunities of expanding our international audiences further. A lot of people need to start linking our values such as mature, progressive and confident with RENARD. Ultimately, having an authentic connection with our consumers is most important!