DESTINY: HOW THE TRIUMPH CHANGED THE COURSE OF MONTA
Over the last five years we have made such advances in our brand and watch lines. MONTA has built five watch references that have caught incredible accolades and continue to delight fellow watch lovers every day. However, it hasn't always been easy. Let me tell you a story that few people know.
It was May 2017. I was standing under a big oak tree at the entrance to our office parking lot with Michael, my soon to be business partner, a few weeks before we had returned from the largest watch show (Baselworld). To be honest, the show was a major bust.
The outlook for MONTA was not as good as we knew it could be. Michael was beyond frustrated and he had a tough choice to make: fold or double down. In this instance, that means throwing hundreds of thousands of dollars down the proverbial drain and shuttering a new watch brand the world only knew existed a few months ago, or investing more money and pivoting to an online-only business model with a new business partner: yours truly.
At this point, we had only one watch model completed, a dive watch known as the Oceanking, and but we did have one glimmer of hope with a model called the Triumph. As a brand new watch brand, The original MONTA Oceanking came with many challenges, some of which we wrote about here. Little did Michael know that naming our latest creation a field watch “Triumph” a year earlier during that prototype phase would prove to be quite serendipitous.
Back under that oak tree I told Mike I knew we could sell 1,000 Triumphs. If we focus our efforts on social media, watch collecting groups, and customer service, we can build the brand we dreamed of without a retail presence. Get the product in customers hands and let the quality speak for itself. As passionate watch collectors we wanted to provide the very best customer service, especially to those who trusted us in the beginning as a new, unknown brand. We wanted to be personally involved with our customers and their experience. The more we talked, the more we knew we could do it with the internet. We knew that the customers would prove to be the best advocates for the brand. Within a few days we agreed to do just that and dove in head first.
When we made the move to online-only sales, we were able to remove the margin earmarked for traditional retailers which therefore we lowered the price of the original Oceanking for our customers. To be completely fair to our loyal customers, we simultaneously offered those initial Oceanking customers the choice of a refund or a discounted Triumph. This was unprecedented in itself, but the response was even more unprecedented.
We were absolutely overwhelmed when we realized that the far majority of these customers chose a discounted Triumph instead of a refund of the Oceanking price difference. At that moment we knew that even through all of the ups and downs with the Oceanking, we had a loyal and enthusiastic customer base that loved our brand and trusted us completely. We knew we had a quality product with longevity. We felt, well, triumphant.
With the Triumph, we began our business partnership with Sellita and we still use their incredible movements to this day. The Sellita movements would remove the uncertainty of reliability and allow the Triumph to shine for its dial colors, size, and comfort.
We launched the preorder for the Triumph in June on that year and the rest, they say, is history. And “Triumph” we did indeed. The preorders started coming in slowly at first and then they picked up. We had media outlets and YouTube accounts reaching out to use for a hands-on review. We threw a big launch party here in St. Louis and attended our first Wind Up watch fair in New York City. We delivered the watches to customers in November as promised and everyone was completely blown away. For all intents and purposes the Triumph truly saved MONTA. Without it, we maybe would be a forgotten name on the forums.
This morning, Mike and I walked over to our old office a few blocks away from our current one and stood under that oak tree just as we did four years ago. We reminisced about our choice words that fateful day (those remain confidential) and how proud we are of each other for persevering and following our passion.
We still have tough decisions to make on a regular basis, but fortunately they don’t involve the anguish we felt the last time we stood there. The lessons learned have been carried forward and still shape the company to this day. I’ll be honest that the global pandemic of 2020 was as challenging, if not more so, than those days in 2017. But as fate would have it, the Triumph proved to be yet another beacon of light. The Noble, which is based on the Triumph, came along at just the right time and ensured our success for many years to come.