Master of his craft
The brainchild of talented industrial designer Brett Band, Paceracer is an exciting new precision watch brand fusing technology and design with tradition. Tucked away amongst the alleyways of Auckland’s Victoria Park Market commercial precinct there is an enthusiastic industrial designer-turned-watchmaker who is adding a technology twist to an age-old traditional handcraft. Brett Band’s personal journey […]
The brainchild of talented industrial designer Brett Band, Paceracer is an exciting new precision watch brand fusing technology and design with tradition.
Tucked away amongst the alleyways of Auckland’s Victoria Park Market commercial precinct there is an enthusiastic industrial designer-turned-watchmaker who is adding a technology twist to an age-old traditional handcraft.
Brett Band’s personal journey behind his watchmaking business Paceracer1 has involved numerous twists and turns, but in 2023 he is well on the way to realising his professional dream.
The son of a talented dressmaker and a bridge engineer, Brett has worked with a number of New Zealand’s leading industrial brands, including Methven and Blender, and across a variety of sectors. He lectures in industrial design technology, CAD and 3D-modelling at AUT, and has also enjoyed a successful career as a professional skateboarder.
While nurturing his appreciation for manufacturing and materials Brett also grew what he admits to being “an odd obsession with vintage watches”. After initially working out of a backyard garage, he decided it was time to open his retail workshop to make the client experience more appealing. He received copious amounts of encouragement, in particular from Alex Bunnett, a leading Queen Street jeweller who saw the potential in what he was doing.
In 2017 Brett put the finishing touches to some samples, designed his logo and registered Paceracer as a company.
After navigating the pandemic’s disruptions, today he’s focused on custom-building superbly designed and engineered designer watches for men and women, and satisfying the desires and preferences of his customers.
The precision mechanisms, which Brett has long held a fascination for, are sourced from Switzerland and openly on display as an integral part of the design. The casings are water-proof to a depth of 60 metres and totally bespoke. This is where Brett’s CNC machining skills and passion for detail comes to the fore. Not to mention, the insights and lessons he picked up from his time spent working for his previous employers.
Initially Brett drummed up some interest and subsequent pre-orders through a friend’s skateboarding, snowboarding and surfing magazine. He has also been spurred on by the increasing number of highly satisfied customers, which inevitably leads to further commissions.
“Putting more time and more savings from my day job into developing Paceracer quickly became a no-brainer,” he says.
Highlights and lessons
Asked to name the absolute highlights of his business journey so far, like a true craftsman Brett admits it’s seeing the watches on his clients’ wrists.
“I love working with clients and hearing their stories; then bringing those stories to life in a watch,” he explains.
Brett has learned that in business it’s important not to believe the hype; to always keep a level head, and when making decisions analyse things from different perspectives.
“When making important decisions I’ve learnt to decide by a measurement of asking: will it make a difference in two to three days? In two to three months? And two to three years?”
The true value of decisions comes into play by asking ‘is it short-term thinking? Or long-term?’ he says.
He also believes that people will respect and support what you do for longer if you just be yourself and stick to your guns.
He’s not alone either in saying that the past three years have been an incredible test of patience for business start-ups like his. He says with hindsight he would have put less pressure on himself during those huge roadblocks and delays caused by covid.
Brett realises it took him a while to fully understand the value people give to something that has been created especially for them. He believes valuing this niche of creating bespoke mechanical watches more personally is his big takeaway from Paceracer.
“However, it would have been good to celebrate some of the small wins amongst all the tough challenges,” he admits.
The journey ahead
Running a business is similar to immersing yourself in a sport, says Brett. “It’s not a race you’ll finish – you’re on a journey, and at every corner you must figure out the way forward.
“You’ll meet new people, and by taking things seriously and not expecting the fruits of your labours too soon, people will either help you or you’ll learn for yourself what to do next.”
The biggest thing is to never get big-headed, he says. “There is so much to learn about business, and about yourself, and it never stops.”
Looking ahead over the next two to three years, as well as turning a profit, Brett’s keen to develop in-house precision manufacturing of precious metals for his bespoke watches.
By introducing precious metals, it immediately increases the inherent value of each watch.
“In New Zealand jewellery manufacturing is well established, but the methods used to make jewellery don’t enable the accuracy required for building a watch,” he explains.
Due to clients’ requests, he has already made the necessary investments.
As for Paceracer’s non-custom-built offering, Brett will focus on building brand awareness around two ranges in 2023, which can be achieved through key partnerships or broadening the watches’ appeal to a wider range of customers.
“The plan is to keep building brand awareness and trust, and make the watches appealing enough to be passed down from generation to generation,” he says.
“The beauty of a mechanical watch is its quality and its ability to essentially outlast the person who bought it.
“The sentimentality is so powerful and I believe more people should know about it,” says Brett.