Mia Phyllis Liefer and Wilfried Liefer, daughter and father, born 1987 and 1957. We are inspired by art, music, craftmanship and design. And we are curious… We are people who need space and freedom, who have the courage to realize our ideas, who consciously take calculated risks, seek out productive connections with others, take pleasure in success, and never get bored.
What got you (both) get into watches?
W.: Thanks for inviting us, and glad you like our watches. My fascination with watches started when I became a jeweler. My professional occupation quickly turned into a personal passion. At the time, I was particularly interested in the young, bold, and less-established small brands. In the 1990s, new brands such as Nomos, Jörg Schauer, Chronoswiss, Alain Silberstein, Jacques Etoulie and many other newcomers tried to find their place in the market. I was particularly impressed by their boldness, creativity, innovation, and enthusiasm. We were one of the first places in Berlin to stock almost all of these brands. It was through my contact with these courageous watchmakers that I first came upon the idea of designing my own watch. However, it never made it past the drawing board.
M.Ph.: I pretty much grew up with watches. My bedroom was directly above the jewelry shop, there was a wonderful small cuckoo clock hung on the wall… What do you expect?
How did Fine Watches Berlin come to fruition?
W.: Long story short, after some twisting moves in my personal and professional life during the last 30 years, in 2017 this almost forgotten idea showed up at the surface again,: What about having my own watch-brand!?! At that time we just had sold another business and as an Aquarius you need something to work on… So I had a look at my old drawings from 30 years ago, started with some research, bought many micro brand watches to check there quality, made some new drafts… and somehow it started to flow.
M.Ph: I was observing this process more from a distance at the beginning. Wondering what my dad is up to this time… But after a while I was thinking: Wait, I am a professional marketier and his daughter, wouldn’t it be a good idea to jump on that train… Asking him, his response came immediately,: That’s what I am waiting for since a while!
What’s your vision for FWB for the future, what would you like to be known for?
W.: We would like FineWatchesBerlin to become a well-known watch-brand from Berlin with a small number of different mechanical watches, made out of passion. An ambassador for Berlin, German design and traditional entrepreneurship…
M.Ph.: FWB will be a brand for design lovers and people how are appreciate good quality and clean workmanship; love functionality. Who is very interested in the new and very open to innovative ideas. And also stick to what is tried and true….
W.: Our aim is to create one or two new watches each year, maybe adding some extra dials to already existing models as well. Always looking for special details with the movements and design. FWB will stay a niche product for a very special crowd.
There is a lot of noise in the watch industry right now with the influx of new micro-brands brands coming onto the market. How do you differentiate yourself from the rest?
W.: You are right, there is a lot going on these days around so-called micro-brands. The main difference with us is, we are a privately owned family based company. Just wasting our own money… Taking the fully the risk of starting a new business. The kind of “normal way” these days with starting a micro-brand is, showing up at Kickstarter with some nice pic of your prototype watch, collecting other peoples money and so on…Or finding an investor and do some spectacular gorilla marketing at Basel World… And at the end, the backer gets what he paid for… another copy and paste Diver-watch. Almost no risk, anyone can easily give it a try. And there are many big Chinese watch manufacturer on the field, just pretending to be a micro-brand.
M.Ph.: For us, and especially for my dad, creating our own watch-brand is more like fulfilling a long existing dream. We spend a long time researching the right supplier chain, finding small manufactures how a willing and able to work to our expectations. One of the hardest parts was to find someone how could make the changes at the movement as we requested. As far as I know, we are almost the only company however refined/elaborated a movement from the Miyota 8… series. And the feedback shows that we did a very good job!
W.: As I mentioned earlier, we are not trying to make quick and easy money. We are working on building a serious long-lasting watch-brand with recognizable, stand-alone watches. Certainly, you can not reinvent the wheel, but if you have an eye on the details, there is so much you can do…
M.Ph.: And overall I am happy that all these micro-brands are stirring up the traditional watch business routine. The whole buzz around the micro-brand market makes it a lot easier to get recognized from customers.