This week in the Studio we sit down with founder Andrew Jennings to find out how Larsson & Jennings got started and the journey which has taken the brand to where it is now. From a youthful fascination with watches to thousands of orders within an instant of launching, the first chronograph and beyond. Meet our CEO and Founder and see what keeps us running.
What made you want to start your own business, in particular a watch brand?
I spent many of my younger years dreaming up entrepreneurial ideas and it wasn't until I was in my twenties that I merged my love of vintage watches with my entrepreneurial drive.
I have always had a fascination with watches, the first watch I actually owned belonged to my uncle. As an army radio DJ who was obsessed with cars he was something of a hero to me. When he’d got his first radio job in 1962, my grandmother bought him a Rolex 6239 Daytona cosmograph for £250, so that he could time his live radio shows because it had the cosmograph timing function. It was actually the first Rolex Daytona ever to be released and my uncle wore it until he died in 1994. When I was 10 years old, he left the watch to me but I was banned from wearing it until I was old enough to look after it. In 2001, when I was still at school, I read an article in GQ on vintage watches - it showed a full-page image of my late uncle’s Rolex Daytona. The watch was valued at around £20,000. I frantically called my dad, who put it in a safe where it stayed for another 10 years.
At twenty-six I was working in finance and searching for an entrepreneurial idea to leave the City and I saw a gap in the market for modern yet classic dress watches at a great price point and went with it. I actually almost sold my Rolex to buy our first batch of watches - which I managed to fund with savings and credit cards so now the watch is safely locked up and apparently worth even more - not that I ever want to sell it!
How did the brand start to take off?
While working in finance as a 9 to 5 (actually 7 to 7!) I knew I needed a shoulder operation that would take me off work for two months, so I timed it to fall over the Christmas period, when I hoped Larsson & Jennings would be busy. I had no employees, my arm in a sling and was fulfilling orders from my apartment – attaching watch straps to watch heads by hand to keep stock levels low and bombarding the local post office with sacks of parcels to post. We turned over £100,000 that December (2012) with the help of social media so I went back into my finance job after Christmas, quit on the spot and began to work full time on Larsson & Jennings that January.
What separates Larsson & Jennings from other watch brands?
We have managed to offer a very luxurious product that features exceptional materials and features at an affordable price by working closely with our supply chain and by not over diluting our distribution which means we can pass the margin savings onto our customer.
Our unique approach to design across product, stores and communication has been key to our growth and success as we are always looking for new ways to challenge the industry - I started Larsson & Jennings to offer an alternative to the many look-a-like watch brands in our price segment so remaining independent and challenging traditions is very important to me.
As we grow organically we value the importance of establishing a clear message through our content messaging, collaborations and affiliation with great brand ambassadors, focusing on design and the highest quality for a product that cates for both men and women and most importantly, is affordable.
Which model is your personal favourite?
That’s a tough question but our LJXII Lugano40mm with a silver Milanese band will always have a special place in my heart as it was our first offering and was inspired by our founding nations of Stockholm and London; Swedish minimalism meets British heritage. However this year, after five years of success we launched the Rally, our first chronograph and was a nod to my Uncle’s Rolex which inspired me from the beginning. I am so proud of our offering as there is truly something for everyone, our LJXII range is our classic whereas the Velo and Meridian offers something new for us, aesthetically.
What have been your key achievements over the years?
Selling our first watch to a complete stranger was a phenomenal feeling, as well as launching our flagship store on the iconic Seven Dials in Covent Garden with a pop-up in New York along the way too. We are also stocked in some iconic retailers globally. Watch-making is such an important part of who we are as a brand I am proud we are bringing something new to the millennial customer by always reimagining classic design and staying true to our Anglo-Swedish roots.
What’s next for Larsson & Jennings?
We have some big plans for 2019, and beyond, which includes some exciting new products and unique store experiences. I don't want to give too much away now but keep posted...