This week, an interview of us was published in the group “Watch Collectors of California and Beyond” by Travis Mickel.
Maker’s Monday Interview
Leonard Celegin, Celegin Precision Timing
10-3-22, 10:10 AM
Leonard Celegin is the founder of the eponymous brand Celegin Precision Timing. The watches are all inspired by and dedicated to Swedish aviation, military and industry icons.
1. How did you first get into making watches?
I’ve always been fascinated by watches. A few years ago, my interest got deeper and I started exploring brands and designs that were new to me. As part of understanding different designs, I tried drawing and combining various design elements. Although I quickly realized my drawing skills weren’t excellent, the thought of maybe designing my own watches one day came up and never left. Fast forward to 2021 and I finally had everything in place to launch my first creations.
2. Do you have a “normal job“ or is this your full-time passion?
I have a day job, which at times is quite demanding. My watch brand is mainly motivated by enthusiasm and passion; the business side of it is secondary (all money coming in from watch sales go to new designs and productions).
3. What do you like best about being a successful micro brand?
All the new people I’ve met and keep on meeting. I’ve also managed to build a small team; achieving something together is always the most fun!
4. Which of your watches is your favorite? Are you also a watch enthusiast of other brands?
The upcoming release, Celegin Viggen “Akka” gets 99% of my wrist time currently and I have a hard time seeing any other of my watches getting any for the foreseeable future. I’m definitely a fan of other brands, especially some of the Sinn designs are close to my heart. Other micro brands are also very interesting.
5. What advice would you offer someone that was interested in creating their own brand of watches?
Design what you like, trust your gut feel and don’t try to design based on what everyone else likes. Surround yourself with people you trust and who’s opinions are valuable.
6. What do you think really sets your watches apart from others?
The Swedish concept; all text and all print on the watch is in Swedish language. Our pilot watches are dedicated to Swedish fighter jets; our diver watches are dedicated to our naval divers and our racing watches are dedicated to a classic Swedish sports car, the Volvo P1800.
7. What are some things that you wish everyone knew about you and your work? Any interesting brand trivia? Any personal info you’d like to share?
We plan on donating our prototypes for charity. Right now we are in dialogue with a Swedish veterans association where they will get one of the Celegin Draken S prototypes for a raffle among their members where all proceeds are going to their ends.
Trivia: The name, Celegin, is originally Italian and slightly misspelled. Apparently there are less than 20 individuals in the entire world with the surname spelled this way.
Some personal info: As a kid, I used to be very interested in aviation and spent hundreds of hours flying various combat flight simulators.
8. What has been your biggest surprise so far, as you have built your Celegin Precision Timing brand?
All work leading up to a complete design and delivered product involves hundreds of decisions of different magnitude. None of them can be ignored since they all have an impact on the end result. Therefore, everything we’ve done is a result of a deliberate choice. We’ve also been incredibly lucky; because many times you need to make a decision based on too little background.
9. What future plans do you have for your brand?
We have a lot of interesting ideas on the “dream board” and hope to bring some of them to life next year. The Viggen “Akka” is our first watch that doesn’t have a black dial and I think there will be more colors in the coming releases.
10. How many watches per year do you typically sell?
We just started, but for this year we’re looking at a few hundred watches sold.
11. What is the story behind your brand name/logo?
Instead of opting for a generic name, I wanted to manifest my commitment to the quality and watch experience by branding it with my surname.
12. Who is your ideal customer?
I honestly can’t say that one type of customer is more ideal than another. Regardless of what your relation is to watches, we still wish to give you a great experience. So far we’ve managed that well with both beginners and advanced watch freaks like ourselves.
13. Where do you see the Microbrand industry headed? What are just trends, and what is here to stay?
I’m happy to see less of the opportunistic profit driven kickstarter projects. I love the creativity that micro brands in general are able to demonstrate (typically where established, major brands don’t dare to go). Something interesting is also the development where micro brands are starting to get a very serious position in the market.
14. I noticed that Fratello Watches nominated your Celegin Draken watch for one of the best microbrand pilot’s watches of 2021, which is awesome. I see you now have a reverse-panda chronograph on pre-order. Could you tell us more about this?
Yeah, the praise in Fratello is something I’m very proud of! The original Celegin Draken was a bicompax Chronograph inspired by Heuer 1550. We dropped the chrono and went for a three-hander (SW200) for the first release. I still wanted to make the chronograph and we developed a new version around the SW510. It’s a very expensive movement so we’re 100% dependent on preorders to make this one happen. We feel that the preorder deal is quite good; probably $500 below any other watch with this movement.
15. What is a question I did not ask that you wish I would’ve along with the answer?
If any of our watches have been sold to California. The answer is actually yes; we’ve delivered a few pieces to the Golden State already. Plus I long to get back and visit again – it’s been quite a few years since I was there personally.
Thanks so much!!