Watch out: SevenFriday

Dan Niederer, founder of watch and lifestyle brand SevenFriday on how living for every day and forging his own path are key to his success

Watches & Jewellery 22 Jul 2020

SevenFriday is a lifestyle and watch brand with a unique aesthetic and attitude
SevenFriday T3/01 watch
SevenFriday's space in Taiwan

SevenFriday is a lifestyle, not a brand, specialising in watches, sunglasses and limited edition apparel founded on the philosophy of living every day like it’s Friday. Founder Dan Niederer worked in the luxury watch industry before launching the brand in 2012, which has now expanded across the world. SevenFriday continues to forge its own path, evolving a loyal following of enthusiastic fans that appreciate unique design and a willingness to walk its own path.

Dan Niederer of SevenFriday
Dan Niederer of SevenFriday

Can you explain more about the SevenFriday brand?

First and foremost, SevenFriday is a way of life and having a particular, positive attitude to how we live. It may sound a bit pretentious but it’s our philosophy – we want people to wake-up on a Monday with an enthusiasm and feeling that they have when it’s Friday, rather than that heavy-hearted dread. It can’t be achieved all the time, but as a brand we strive to make that the most important part of our make-up and culture.

At SevenFriday it’s important to me that we have a good environment where we work with people we like and that we do things that make sense and not just because other people in the industry say that’s how it should be done. We like to be a bit more natural, we follow our own nose and try to make things that represent the SevenFriday lifestyle.

This philosophy, we believe, manifests itself in the brand and ultimately throughout the product we produce. For example, we have our global ‘Spaces’ designed by London agency BusbyWebb. The importance here is that we are not shoving product in people’s faces. The retail element is, of course, important, but very subtle and incidental to the concept and design.

We want people from all cultures to connect and exchange and to feel comfortable ­– to not feel scrutinised. The Spaces are for people to come together to spend quality time with friends and family with food, drink and even live music and weekly events.

Suddenly everybody wants to be a lifestyle brand, but we have always just wanted to do what we think makes sense, what we enjoy and what we feel is honest. We said from the beginning, we don’t do bullshit and that’s what we try to stick to.

How did the brand develop?

SevenFriday started with watches and we got lucky that the brand was picked up quickly on a global level. After one year, we were in 50 countries and that allowed us to then branch into other things including apparel and eyewear. That meant we became more a lifestyle brand and we think there’s a lot more that we can do without losing our identity.

It’s no mean feat to establish a successful watch brand in a short amount of time. How have you done it, and do you think your experience in the watch industry helped?

In my experience, the best thing you can do to launch a watch brand is to not listen to watch people. People in the industry will always say you need to do things a certain way. Or will say it’s too challenging, it’s too difficult, you need to be X, Y or Z, you need millions of dollars, you need so much time, it’s impossible. I don’t know why people are so negative!

In every industry there are always opportunities, but you need to have a fresh thought process. I worked in the watch industry for ten years in retail, distribution, many different things with lots of brands and everything I thought I knew, I challenged when I started SevenFriday. Just because everybody says there’s one way to do something, it doesn’t make it true. It’s not true, for example, that the Swiss are the only ones who can do quality watches because today we have a very high level of competency in watchmaking in Japan and China.

With social media it was the same thing. We were one of the first watch brands on Instagram. We think if you copy established brands with long histories, you are always going to be behind the trends. You have to find your own destiny. That’s what we’ve done with SevenFriday. It’s actually a lot of fun!

SevenFriday's new T1/01 Cocorico watch
SevenFriday’s new T1/01 Cocorico watch

How would you describe the SevenFriday style?

Arnaud Duval is our very clever geeky French designer, and we’ve worked very closely together since the beginning. Our T-Series launch last summer took in a road trip through Normandy, where he grew up, to capture his motivations for the collection, as well as a few things he didn’t want us to know courtesy of his father.

At the start, it was more a matter of me saying what I don’t like. It wasn’t a typical design approach, it was more about what each watch should represent – each has classic elements and modern elements and it was about the tension between the extremes.

When building the brand we wanted to make watches that stand alone, are recognisable and unique but wearable. In the past, you had either round watches or square watches. The part of the wrist on which watches sit isn’t round, however, so a square shape sits better but a rounded shape gives it a more organic look. We found a way to combine the two with a rounded square that was inspired by the shape of TVs in the 1950s. It makes the shape softer.

At SevenFriday we want the best quality, unique design, and absolute creativity at a relatively affordable price. A lot of watches that retail around $1,000 don’t show much creativity, they all look the same. We try to constantly challenge and reinvent ourselves. SevenFriday watches use visual complications that are quite elaborate. In fact, we spend a lot of time and energy on the case and the dial and not just on the movement. It’s something consumers might not be aware of. The movement isn’t the biggest cost of the watch.

What does the name SevenFriday mean and why did you pick it?

From the beginning we wanted it to include our philosophy because once you have the name you can never change it. As I said, every day has to feel like it’s Friday. We didn’t want to put my name on the watch because it would be misleading: it’s not about me. I want Monday morning to feel like a Friday, I think we all want that. We’ve found it really connects with a lot of people who live their dream.

What are your plans for the future of SevenFriday?

World domination! No I just think that sounds cool but really we want to keep growing, we want to stay independent, we want to stick to our philosophy but always with constant innovation. We’re always trying to make things easier and more efficient. For example, all our watches and sunglasses are secured with an NFC authentication chip. We have the consumer app to make things more efficient for our customers.

Finally, who are your style icons?

I don’t know, I don’t really have one, but maybe MC Hammer, remember him? I like it when people really can pull it off and do something no one else can like those pants and those moves – I tried and failed.