As an actor, Ilan Muallem Srulovicz likes to bring a boldness to his portrayals – whether it’s a recurring role on AMC’s The Walking Dead or a character part on a major motion picture like Deepwater Horizon, the 36-year old likes to bring something unique to the table.
He carries the same hunger for non-conformity to his watch company, Egard. With a lineup of automatic watches in the $300-$1,000 range, Ilan has taken an idea that started as a gift for his father and turned it into a recognizable watch brand – no small feat considering the competition from other microbrands and established Swiss brands.
“I spent a year and a half prototyping this watch for my dad,” Ilan said. “I wanted to design something that looked high end for him. And at the time, I didn’t have the budget for a high end watch. So, I thought it made more sense with my design background to just design something myself.”
The watch was well-received and gave Ilan inspiration to take the idea to Indiegogo – and in 2012, Egard was born thanks to crowdfunding. While crowd-funding campaigns are the norm for microbrands in the current market, Egard was sailing into mostly uncharted territory.
Ilan concedes that the oblong case and disc-dialed timepieces aren’t for everyone. In fact, he likes it that way. “The design had some detractors,” he said. “I honestly didn’t care. I wanted something that was honest to my vision, not someone else’s idea of what a watch is supposed to look like.”
However, Ilan did recognize the need for a more casual setting. So he developed a separate line called Gentleman Warfare, which offered a contemporary approach to more classic designs.
“With Egard, you have a very specific look,” he said. “It’s not necessarily a watch you’ll wear every day. They are watches that stand out. So I wanted to develop a series that was maybe a little more casual.”
“To boldly go…”
After the success of the Quantus, Ilan followed with new releases, including Passages, a watch designed in partnership with William Shatner. (Yes, that William Shatner). The project would be a design collaboration with the legendary Starfleet Captain – with Shatner suggesting design elements that would appeal to his fanbase.
The watch smashed its $75,000 goal, claiming 2,033 backers and raising $681,721 for the project.
“This wasn’t a situation where we reached out to a celebrity for endorsement,” Ilan said. “He actually reached out to us after seeing one of our watches on Instagram. He liked the design and wanted to partner with us on a project. It was exciting. He wanted to do something special for his fans and it was well received.”
Collaborations would become an important part of the Egard brand. Ilan also teamed up with mixed martial arts champion Georges St. Pierre for the Rush line, which housed a Miyota 9100 movement and expanded on the complications offered with the Quantus.
Egard’s next role
Srulovicz is currently prototyping a new watch that will take Egard into more traditional watch design, but will still utilize the company’s signature oblong case shape along with new materials. This part of the watch business is what Ilan enjoys most – taking a concept from idea to prototype. “The new watch will still look like an Egard, but will be a little more classic in tone,” he said.
After several years, Ilan wants to keep up with a fast-changing landscape in the watch industry. While he used crowdfunding to launch his own brand, he does worry about the impact the platforms have on pricing expectations.
“You’ll have really cool brands pop up, and others that use catalogue designs – then people start wondering why you charge a certain amount for your product when it has the same movement as another watch. They don’t factor in the time and costs it takes to produce an original concept from start to finish.”
Still, Ilan is optimistic.
“We have a whole new generation of watch enthusiasts coming up,” he said. “Watches are becoming fashionable again. We’re seeing 16-year-olds who are interested in mechanical watches. It’s not so much about telling time. They want something that makes a statement about themselves and their interests.”
“For me, this was a way to express myself artistically and it’s become my passion,” he said.
Learn more about Egard at the website here.