Leonard & Church is a direct to consumer watch brand offering “reasonable luxury” – premium men’s and women’s watches at value pricing.
Based in New York City, they handcraft every watch with “sapphire crystal (not mineral glass), surgical grade stainless steel (not alloy), and genuine natural leather,” according to their website.
Their 2014 Kickstarter was a massive hit with consumers, raising nearly half a million dollars, and the brand has maintained their promise to cut out the middlemen and deliver value directly to consumers in the form of luxury products at a reasonable price.
Before launching the direct to consumer watch brand Leonard & Church in 2013, Co-founders Chris Chon and Jeff Leung were frustrated with the watch industry’s “supply chain riddled with middle men; 1000%+ industry markups; and a gap in the market for a beautiful, thoughtfully made watch that doesn’t break the bank,” according to a statement on their website.
They found a market of consumers who felt the same, in a wildly successful 2014 Kickstarter campaign that raised a whopping $470,000 from 3,463 backers–easily exceeding their goal of $75,000. In a September 2015 article for GQ.com, the founders explained their mission in more detail:
“We want to change the way people think about buying a quality watch. Exceptional customer service, no middlemen markups, no expensive advertising or marketing gimmicks. Quality products at a fair price.”
Looking through their website and products, it’s clear that this direct to consumer watch maker delivers on their promise. Their focus on vertical integration and value delivery is prominent: “We partner directly with leading leather and watch makers, skip the excessive markups, and take a fair margin so you can get more than one,” they write on their website.
As a result, their pricing reflects their mission, and they’re able to provide a very reasonable price point for such high-quality watches: only $95 to $395 for men’s and women’s luxury watches, at the time of our review.
The direct to consumer watch brand’s “Product” page details each element of craftsmanship held within each watch. For instance, each of their watches is fitted with a sapphire crystal lens (as opposed to the more common mineral glass), because it’s “a gemstone known for its scratch resistance, durability, and superior hardness. The hardness of a mineral is rated on Mohs scale, with 10 Mohs representing the hardest and strongest: diamonds rate at 10 Mohs; sapphire crystal is 9 Mohs.” Other elements of the watch are explained with the same precision, ranging from the handcrafted leather strap (from premium South American hides) to the engraved backplate and surgical-grade stainless steel casing.
As far as the website shopping experience, their pages have a nice feature that actually saves a lot of time when comparing watches: as you hover your cursor over the picture of each watch, the photo changes to show a side view or rear view of the watch (mostly side views, which would seem to be more important than the back-of-watch view). We found it easy and fast to get a feel of how the watch would look from all angles, without having to click through to individual product pages to compare different watches.
The photography on the individual product pages is solid and their return policy is sufficient. Consumers have 30 days to return the product for a full refund. We’ve seen longer windows of time, but 30 days seems reasonable. Their warranty, however, is beyond reasonable—they offer a staggering ten-year warranty on manufacturing defects! This is one of the longest product warranties we’ve seen, and a testament to their belief in their workmanship.
Leonard & Church is a No Middleman favorite, as they are a true direct to consumer brand—no retail or digital middlemen of any kind, and a clear statement of value for consumers. In the GQ.com article, they mentioned the possibility of experimenting with pop-up stores and try at home options, which are a common strategy for brands that are serious about remaining direct to consumer. We’re optimistic they’ll retain their direct to consumer focus, and continue to maximize the value they pass through to consumers, in the way of premium benefits at a reasonable price point.
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