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The Melbourne label bringing Swiss watches to a new generation

WORDS BY MAGGIE ZHOU

The 5th is trying to slow down time.

Going against the grain is second nature to Melbourne-based watch label The 5th. No other watch company would dare launch by releasing limited edition styles on the fifth of every month, available to purchase for only five days.

It may sound absurd, but six years on, The 5th watches can be found slapped on wrists in over 100 countries.

While it has since generously opened its online doors for good, The 5th still upholds its motto, ‘watches worth waiting for.’ Its latest collection, Geneva, has been two years in the making.

You often hear of embellished stories of childhood dreams fulfilled from owners of celebrated businesses. That’s not the case here. When I chat to The 5th’s founder and director, Alex McBride, he tells me how he happened to stumble into the industry.

“I would love to say that we had a grand plan, but it does feel like everything kind of fell into place in a way, that it was meant to happen. As strange as it sounds, it just organically formed,” he reflects.

While in the middle of the corporate grind, Alex decided to start his own design blog. Creativity was always something that he valued, with both parents working as architects.

He also physically carried his grandfather’s Tag Heuer watch, left to Alex after his grandfather passed away. What began as an offhand idea to try and sell products from his blog, turned into a global success story that saw $1,000,000 in sales in just one day.

The 5th is anything but conventional, and it’s made no exceptions for its latest release. In the brand’s typical exclusive fashion, The 5th has created 10 unique styles for the range, limited to 250 pieces each. On the back of each individual watch is its own personalised 001/250 engraving.

The Geneva range oozes a sophisticated timelessness. Focusing on quality, staple design, the vintage-inspired styles are crafted to last a lifetime. So far, only the Russi and Andress pieces have been revealed, and the rest of the collection remains shrouded in anticipatory mystery. What we do know is that each style features a different face, has either a Jubilee or Oyster strap design and comes in either rose gold, gold, steel or two-tone metal.

 “It’s a bit of a monumental collection for us,” says Alex. “This collection was all about bringing that beauty and heritage to a younger generation. We really didn’t know what the response to this collection was going to be, it’s double the price of our existing collections but the response has been really great so far. It’s been our best release in the last two years.”

Alex notes the range has been in the works for these past two years and has seen The 5th team travel from France to Switzerland to find the perfect manufacturers and designers. It’s over in Europe where they met Cedric, an established French designer who has designed for the likes of Cartier and Hermès. Now, the team video calls him from Melbourne to continue working side by side.

This collection is proudly Swiss-made, with The 5th the first direct-to-consumer company to offer Swiss-made watches.

“The Swiss are the pioneers of watchmaking,” explains Alex. “Every watchmaker in Switzerland has to do a four-year course. [It’s] mindfully made. There’s just more love put into it. There have been so many nights on the phone to our Swiss manufacturers and we’ve been arguing over the smallest of details – it’s that love and passion that comes out in the product,” he shares.

Being in the business of time is a strange thing. We typically live in a fast-paced, instant-gratification world that feeds off our lack of – or hunger for – time. But in the midst of a global pandemic, time seems to have slowed to a standstill. The historic necessity of watches has faded, but our desire for them remains.

“Why are watches relevant? We don’t need them to tell the time. But we all still wear jewellery and we all still wear watches. They have an ability to carry a message and make you feel a certain way,” Alex muses. 

“It gives you a feeling, [it] could be of strength or hope or positivity or optimism or it could remind you of someone. That’s quite a powerful thing to carry and be reminded of every time you glance at it.”

The eight remaining styles from the Geneva range will be dropping October 5.

the5th.co

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