Time Unleashed!

Never afraid to stand out from the crowd, or push boundaries, Reservoir’s colorful creations are capturing the attention of watch connoisseurs all around the world. Stopping for a moment in time, the founder shares some of his thoughts on watchmaking with GMT GCC’s editor-in-chief, Jola Chudy.

Francis Moreau is the founder and CEO of Reservoir Watches, a brand founded on boldness, creativity and passion. Never afraid to stand out from the crowd, or push boundaries, Reservoir’s colorful creations are capturing the attention of watch connoisseurs all around the world. Stopping for a moment in time, the founder shares some of his thoughts on watchmaking with GMT GCC’s editor-in-chief, Jola Chudy.

Francis Moreau is a visionary leader and a driving force in the realm of horological innovation. His boundless enthusiasm for asking ‘why not?’ has propelled Reservoir to the forefront of the most exciting brands in watchmaking today. Renowned for their distinctive design inspired by dashboard instruments, Reservoir timepieces merge timeless elegance with cutting-edge engineering. The brand’s commitment to craftsmanship is evident in each meticulously crafted watch, where intricate details and innovative features coalesce to redefine the art of timekeeping. Reservoir Watches doesn’t just tell time; it encapsulates an ethos of adventure and precision, appealing to those with a penchant for both style and substance. From aviation-inspired collections to automotive-themed masterpieces, Reservoir continues to carve a niche in the industry, captivating enthusiasts with a blend of heritage and avant-garde ingenuity.

Colorful, audacious and conversation-starting, the Popeye watch was designed to stand out in the crowd – even a crowd as large as those gathering to watch cricket! What drew the Reservoir team to combining this cartoon character with India’s favorite sport?

The idea came when we thought about introducing the brand in India in Q4 2023. Cricket is extremely popular in India, and introducing the brand with a cricket limited edition towards local watch lovers was an interesting move. Hence, the RESERVOIR X POPEYE CRICKET watch captures the very essence of competition and camaraderie that cricket sets ablaze in every nook and cranny of India.

What prompted the collection of cartoon-inspired timepieces in the first place?

We are inspired by the bold gesture of Gerla Genta in the ‘80s when doing retrograde minutes with Mickey or Picsou, the fundamental being delivering an engineered mechanical Swiss made watch without taking it too seriously. Re-interpreting this creative idea nowadays is a true challenge, as you need to be true to the DNA of the brand – i.e. the retrograde minute being at core of all RESERVOIR watch collections and stick to the storytelling of the brand by selecting comics with a bold spirit. Popeye was a natural fit to these criteria.

Reservoir watches have a signature time-telling feature courtesy of the retrograde hands; a nod to motorsport and cars — a rich vein for storytelling and authenticity. What are some of the vehicles that have ‘driven’ inspiration at Reservoir?

Yes, we love cars at Reservoir. The first inspirations came from the dashboards of German cars from the 80s, such as Audi. They used a specific font for the speedometer or the engine running indicator. The instructions are very legible, clear, the information is easy to read, and everything is to the point. This inspiration is found in the GT Tour collection. Another source of inspiration was the Mini Cooper of the 1960s: a speed and gear ratio indicator in the center of the dashboard with a very specific design. We find this source of inspiration in the Longbridge collection. Finally, a third source of inspiration is the Porsche 356 speedster from the 1950s. The car was a model of its kind in terms of meter design: a particular font for the numbers, a fine graphic aesthetic, and a particular pastel blue colour. This inspiration is found in the Kanister collection.

What does the celebration of cricket represent for Reservoir?

Values from cricket stick perfectly with the brand DNA, around making the difference through a bold move at a specific moment. It perfectly matches our slogan, ‘make it bold’, illustrated by the movement of the single-minute hand when it ‘retrogrades’.

Reservoir was created as a tribute to racing drivers and heroes of the past — in 100 years time, who today do you think will be inspiring watchmakers looking for historical inspiration?

This is a delicate question because there are many gifted watchmakers, and to mention only one or two would not recognize or appreciate the work of the others. Jack Heuer did an admirable job around motor racing with models that are still relevant today like the Carrera or the Monaco launched in the 1960s.

In an industry bustling with innovation and creativity, how did you design the Reservoir brand to stand out — what are its most important qualities in terms of brand differentiation?

The cornerstone of brand differentiation lies into the capability of brand manifesto to differentiate from other brands. We dedicated a significant amount of time to focus our communication around the ‘make it bold’ slogan, which captures the moment when the single-hand minute retrogrades. At that specific moment, there is an emotional momentum, which opens the doors for creativity in terms of design. This principle applies to different universes: car, aeronautic, marine, music, comics. All in one the outcome of the design process will have to be in line with the manifesto and strengthen the core brand alongside the launch of novelties.

Who buys Reservoir?

The primary buyers of Reservoir watches are men who are knowledgeable about watches and appreciate the retrograde minute com- plication. Given its rarity in the market, the opportunity to access this complication, especially one inspired by automobile, aeronautic or marine design, is a compelling reason to purchase. There is a second group of buyers, below the age of 45, who are drawn to the universes of inspiration, but less knowledgeable about the watch complications. Both groups, when acquiring a Reservoir watch, are immensely proud to spread the word around them as there is a radical way to read time, while at the same it reproduces the measuring instrument in a real manner.

Reservoir is resolutely affordable; how do you ensure a level of quality, reliability and finishing at this ambitious price point?

Indeed, it is an essential element of our value proposition. At the time of our launch in 2017, we noticed a disconnect between the market price of watches and the value of these manufactured watches. Also, we targeted a segment of around USD4,000, which seemed to us the most relevant in terms of value proposition and acceptable to the customer, a price segment very rarely offered at that time. Today we see that we were right, and today many houses have an offer at this price. We do not compromise on of our collections, whether on quality, finishes or reliability. So, what’s the secret? It’s about having a network of partners in Switzerland, because all our collections are Swiss-made, who are ready to support us over the long term around this value equation.

Boldness, passion and creativity — three facets of the Reservoir
personality. Why were these chosen and how does the philosophy for product design reflect these?

This is a fundamental question for us. Behind the words, there is a corporate reality within our entrepreneurial adventure. Boldness means overcoming conventionalities, such as reading the time with one hand, instead of three. Passion represents the worlds of inspiration such as automobiles, aviation, the marine sector or music. Passions that we share within the team. Finally, creativity is this alchemy which is requested both in terms of design, the ‘wow’ effect and the principle of having an innovative business model to succeed within a very stable luxury watch market.

What excites you most about being in the watch industry today?
There is an increased place for ‘true’ innovations on the market within the watch industry today, which brings light to independent brands. This trend is primarily fueled by final clients who are looking for alternatives to ‘already seen’ watches, unafraid to singularize themselves with a less-seen watch. This trend is also pushed
by multiband retailers, as global brands are now opening their own stores which leaves space for independent brands. Reservoir’s watch collections are perfectly matching these trends.

How does RESERVOIR ensure a continuing culture of experimentation and excellence?
The culture of experimentation is definitively within the core DNA of Reservoir watch: we were the first to launch a single-hand diving watch, a bi-retrograde inspired by VU meters or by capturing the essence of a comic by animating tits character. Excellence is non-negotiable and linked to the quality of the watch manufactured.