A young French watchmaking brand, Awake Watches stands out with its ambition to innovate and promote alternative, more respectful and sustainable consumption. Awake first drew attention when French President Emmanuel Macron presented their watch to his peers at the 2019 Biarritz G7 summit. Following a first encounter during the watch week in Geneva, we met with their founder Lilian Thibault to further discuss the ambition and projects of a brand that does things differently.
Xavier Markl, MONOCHROME – Lilian, thanks for having us. What is your background and how did you end up creating your watch brand?
Lilian Thibault – I’m 45 years old, married and father of 3-year-old twins. My professional journey began in the media industry, and quickly moved to entrepreneurship by the age of 30. Loving challenges and following my passions, my first company’s purpose was to accompany luxury brands in their digital strategy.
At the same time, my passion for watches kept growing, and my collection too, which I started 20 years ago. I love watches because they are the symbol of our relation to time, of our actions – or inaction.
In 2018, I started Awake with Frederic Ly, our Artistic Director and Nghia Nguyen working on Innovation, with the ambition to propose a new vision of watchmaking, exploring, pioneering and redefining the purpose of the instrument. Like every industry, we have to do something about the environment. This is not a choice, this is an obligation, this is the future. We have to produce better and recycle. Simply, Earth’s resources are limited.
If our first watch was purposely quite affordable, and more than one thousand backers trusted us during our Kickstarter launch, two years ago, we decided to raise the bar and come with more elaborated products. The main reason is that the entire team is passionate about watches. We combine more than 40 years of experience, whether it is in design, engineering, micro-technics or strategy. Thus we wanted to express this passion and our taste for innovation in more exclusive watches, bringing more stories, emotions and great value for money.
This is why you ended up creating the “Mission to Earth”?
Indeed. We created the first “Mission to Earth” with mechanical movement, a recycled titanium case, and superb attention to detail. The watch also incorporates the first sapphire crystal with an encrusted NFC chip into it, which is the gateway to a dedicated digital ecosystem with all information about your watch stored in the blockchain, but also innovative and immersive experiences.
Nasa approved and validated the project and even worn by the Era Mission Team. The choice to team up with the most famous space organisation in the world was connected to their innovation mindset, as well as the idea that space is the best place to contemplate the Earth’s beauty. This is why the experience related to the watch is the capacity to observe our planet from the ISS cameras, in order to reproduce what astronauts call “the Overview Effect”.
The Mission to Earth – NASA was launched with a pre-order model. Sold at a price of 1000€ the 250 pieces were sold out within 3 days. The Mission to Earth – NIGHTFALL followed a few weeks later, and was also sold out within a few days.
And now comes the third chapter of “Mission to Earth”. What was the idea behind it?
For Chapter III, which naturally keeps the Awake DNA, we have reviewed and evolved almost everything. For this opus, we reworked the design, the case, the case back and the movement, improving finishes for every single part. But the biggest change comes from the dial, carved in the oldest meteorite known on Earth: a 4,5 billion years old extra-terrestrial stone which invites us to think about our place, our role and our purpose in the universe, through this fragment of eternity.
We are releasing it in two versions of 500 pieces each: Time Travelers Grey & Purple, 50% of which have already been sold.
What are the next challenges for Awake?
The challenge is to keep going upmarket with more sophisticated watches, combining avant-garde design and materials, with traditional and exclusive watchmaking techniques, such as métiers d’art. Our ambition is really to stand out in this segment, where watches are often mass-produced, with particularly elaborated creations, while continuing to pave the way for exemplary manufacturing that is more forward-looking than ever.
For more information, please visit www.awakewatches.com.