About 2 years ago I got an email from an old friend:
"I bought an (insert the name of a very popular, very hyped on social media watch) 2 months ago and it died on me! What watch should I get?"
Okay, in fairness there was more to this story. My friend works in marketing. He is fairly senior. He has not owned a watch since the turn of the century (2002 to be exact). His rationale was:
"I don't need a watch. My computer has the time, my cell phone has the time, the time is LITERALLY EVERYWHERE!"
Well, fair enough. Until...
My friend was in the middle of a pitch meeting. He was sitting towards the rear of the room. His job was to give hand signals to his boss (who was giving the pitch to a potential client) to let him know how much time was left. Not having a watch, my friend was occasionally looking at his phone to check the time. At one moment the potential client looked over and saw this, and came to the reasonable conclusion that my friend was goofing off with instagram, or some other time killing activity. My friend's boss clocked this activity and (once the client had left) exploded:
"What were you doing playing with your f'ing phone?!?"
My friend informed his boss that he was checking the time to signal to him when to wrap up. His boss was not soothed:
"Go get a damn watch! Not tomorrow, not after work, not even after lunch! Go get a damn watch right now!!!"
So needless to say, my friend exited the office and turned left into a boutique that sold (insert theme of an over-hyped, very popular quartz watch here) watches, and put just over $200 (with tax) on his credit card and wore the watch back to the office. And everything was fine... for the next 2 months. And then the watch stopped working. Not sure if it was a battery or simply defective, he went back to the boutique, and was given an address to send his watch in for warranty service (they insisted that they could not do this for him). So on Saturday he packed up the watch and shipped it back to the address he was provided. And...
He waited, and waited, and waited....and
After several unanswered emails, phone calls and carrier pigeon notes it became clear to him that while he might get the watch repaired and returned, it was not likely to happen prior to his retirement or termination, whichever came first.
And this brings us back to my friend's email to me. What watch should he get? I suggested an inexpensive Seiko, a Timex, Casio, or even a Swatch.
"You work in the watch business. Can't you make me one?"
This led to a 15 day back and forth explaining that, in fact, while I did sales, marketing and other things, making a watch was not something for us to discuss because unlike the salt and pepper, it was not on the table. But he kept pushing.
So I reached out to my friends at Swiss Watch Consultants and asked, crazy as it sounded, if they could make a small run of 100 or so watches. They said yes, and that is what led to the OBIE1.