Interview Gage Knopf – Co-Founder of Knopf Watches

Last October, I had some time to kill so I was scrolling through Instagram, and I came across a young watch brand straight from New York City: Knopf Watches.

I quickly became interested in this brand because I am a fan of the city that never sleeps.

Luckily, I was able to meet the founders of the brand, and try their pieces, in November 2023, on Minutes & Hours Austin.

They had their stand opposite mine (where I represented Cimier), and so it was easy for me to interact with them and understand their path.

So for more details I decided to interview one of the founders – Gage Knopf.

So here we go, I’ll let you discover Knopf Watches.

Gage and Larry Knopf
Could you tell us a bit about you and about your story with watches?

My name’s Gage Knopf, and I serve as the president and creative director for KNOPF. The brand’s both a business and a hobby for me, as designing watches has provided me with a platform to share my art with a global audience, made possible by the current state of e-commerce.

Outside of my work with KNOPF, I’ve spent 14 years as a martial artist and combat sports athlete, primarily focusing on kickboxing with a strong foundation in Muay Thai and influence from Taekwondo kicking. I’ve also achieved tournament wins and a few world titles in martial arts weapons. I currently hold 2 black belts/degree ranks and am working toward 2 more.

I don’t have a traditional story with watches. Unlike many others in the industry, I didn’t start as a designer for a major brand and then branch out to start my own brand. The opportunity to enter the watch industry presented itself to me, and I dove in headfirst, initially unaware of how everything worked. However, I’ve since learned a lot (the hard and costly way) and have developed a deep appreciation for watches.

To me, watches are not just timepieces; they are wearable pieces of art. This belief led me to co-found KNOPF, a brand that celebrates this ideal through unique, distinct designs that blend modern aesthetics with timeless old-world architecture.

When did the idea to create a new brand came to you, and when do you start working on the creation and on the launch of it?

The idea to create a new watch brand didn’t initially originate with me. It came about around 2018. While having dinner at the 21 Club with my parents during their visit to Manhattan, my dad mentioned a business idea he had and asked for my opinion. He talked about using drop-shipping to sell inexpensive watches. Intrigued, he then proposed that we join forces in this new venture, and I agreed.

However, my vision for the business quickly evolved. I wanted to create a genuine brand, one that would bear our family name, Knopf. I also envisioned designing the watches myself, ensuring they were crafted in Switzerland, and positioning our brand in a more premium price range. This idea occurred to me when we walked past the windows of a luxury watch retailer one day and noticed that nearly every brand seemed to be imitating each other. I saw this as a great opportunity to differentiate ourselves in the industry.

Thus, the KNOPF brand was born, and in 2020, we launched our first watch collection, realizing our vision for a premium, Swiss Made timepiece brand.

You created this brand with your father, Larry. Can you explain to us how you operate together, but also what importance it is for you to work as a family?

Working with my father, Larry, is a unique experience that combines our individual strengths to drive the success of KNOPF. I focus on the artistic and design aspects of the brand, bringing my creative vision to life through our timepieces. Meanwhile, my dad handles the logistics and financial aspects of the business, ensuring that everything runs smoothly behind the scenes.

Operating as a family has great importance to us. It not only strengthens our bond but also allows us to trust each other implicitly, knowing that we both have the best interests of the brand at heart. Our complementary skills and shared commitment to KNOPF allow us to work seamlessly together, creating watches that we are proud to put our family name on.

Now, let’s talk more about the watch. What’s the most important thing in the process of creating your timepieces?

I consider dial development to be the cornerstone of our timepiece creation process. Our dials are the main focus of every watch, representing our brand’s identity.

From where comes your inspiration concerning the design of your pieces? And also, what’s behind this dial?

I draw inspiration from architectural masterpieces. The design of the KNOPF NY-405’s dial is influenced by the Art Deco movement, specifically the Chrysler Building, renowned for its bold geometric shapes and intricate ornamentation.

Do you have an anecdote about the design and creation phase of your timepieces?

My design process sets me apart from others. Instead of using stock elements for my dial, I prefer to create them entirely from scratch. When developing our watches, I start by selecting a building that inspires me. I search for architecturally significant structures with rich histories that I can creatively adapt to a watch dial. Once I have a concept in mind, I begin the design process digitally on my MacBook, starting with a blank canvas and shaping my vision.

What steps do you go through to develop and produce them?

After completing the concept art, I collaborate with my dad to finalize details such as movement complications, case style, and other specifications. We then work with our manufacturing partner to create 2D renderings and technical drawings before moving into production. This meticulous process ensures that each watch is a true reflection of our vision and craftsmanship.

From your perception, what makes your watches so special?

KNOPF watches are distinguished by their distinctive Art Deco-inspired designs, intended to make a bold statement and start conversations. They embody the wearer’s boldness, individuality, and appreciation for quality, suitable for any occasion despite being considered dress watches.

Could you tell us how your collection is composed and what is the price of your watches?

Once a design and style have been chosen, we collaborate with some of our most dedicated community members (who we believe to be our buyer persona) to gather feedback on their preferences, such colors, types of bracelets/straps, and more. A complete collection usually features either 2 or 3 color dial color variations and 2 strap options. Our collections are named after the address of the structure that inspired their creation.

Our current collection, KNOPF NY-405, is priced between 1,395 USD and 1,595 USD, depending on the accompanying strap. These prices reflect the high-quality materials, detailed dials, and Swiss craftsmanship used in their production.

Do you have an idea of how many watches do you already have delivered?

We’ve sold approximately 300 watches worldwide since releasing the KNOPF NY-405 in 2020.

Social networks are really important for microbrands like KNOPF. Could you let us know how and why do you use them? and what’s your strategy to stand out from other brands in your price range?

We currently utilize Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, and TikTok as our primary channels. These platforms serve multiple purposes, including advertising, product showcasing, highlighting collaborations with influencers, brand ambassadors, and media outlets that have reviewed or featured our watches. Our strategy focuses on creating compelling content that highlights the uniqueness of our brand and watches.

Establishing a strong social media presence adds credibility and expands brand awareness for KNOPF. Surprisingly, many visitors to our booth at the Minutes + Hours Art and Watch Show in Austin, Texas last year mentioned discovering us through Instagram or Facebook.

Let’s talk about distribution. Obviously, you use the direct sales strategy which is better for a young brand like yours. Could you explain us your distribution strategy and how you want to develop it in the future?

We use a direct sales strategy due to the pricing of our watches. While we utilize platforms like Instagram and Facebook, which offer direct shopping options bypassing our online store, we don’t expect or observe many sales through them. The direct approach allows us to sell our watches to customers through our website, ensuring a more personalized and trustworthy shopping experience. It also enables us to better control our brand image. We might explore additional distribution channels to broaden our reach, but it is for now!

Regarding shipping and physical distribution, our goal is to maintain stock in Europe to alleviate annoyingly high import taxes for our customers. Additionally, we aim to secure representation in a high-end watch or jewelry department stores for credibility purposes.

What is your first market? Will you try to develop other markets in the future?

Although we sell all over the world, our first market is the United States. We’ve centered it around men who seek more than just a timepiece; they seek a statement piece that reflects their unique style and personality. In the future, we plan to expand more into the European and potentially Asian markets, introducing KNOPF to a broader audience who shares our enthusiasm for creatively different timepieces.

Do you plan to participate in watchmaking events in the coming months?

Absolutely! We plan to make an appearance at an event this year, if circumstances allow.

Now and more generally, what are your plans for the future?

Our current main focus is on the launch of our second collection, which will be more affordable and manufactured right here in the United States. By the end of 2024, we hope to have released at least two new collections as part of our efforts to expand our customer base.

What aspects of your brand you think people should know more about?

There are several aspects of our brand that we think people should be more aware of. Firstly, our commitment to creating watches that aren’t only aesthetically pleasing and easily recognizable as KNOPF, but also built to last for generations, thanks to their craftsmanship. Secondly, our dedication to making watches that stand out and draw attention for their unique designs. Lastly, our belief that a watch is more than just an accessory; it is an extension of a man’s personality and a reflection of his individuality.

OK, now something more personal. For you, what’s the most important thing to find in a watch?

In my opinion, an interesting dial trumps everything else. That’s why we made distinctly recognizable dial design the hallmark of KNOPF.

To finish, are you also a watch collector? If yes, what kind of watches do you collect?

I’m actually not a collector. Prior to founding KNOPF, I had no involvement in the watch industry and never paid much attention to watches. However, I now have a love and appreciation for beautiful timepieces but don’t wear any watches other than the ones I’ve designed.


Hope you guys have enjoyed this interview. You can follow Knopf Watches on the social networks :

Facebook / Instagram / TikTok / YouTube

If you’re interested to buy one of them, or if you want to know more about the brand, just click HERE.

Jonathan Kopp

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