There’s a new kid on the block. Or at least a new kid’s watch, and I, for one, am so happy about this new brand called Parchie. It’s not because I have kids that I need to teach how to tell time on an analog watch. I did that already, three times, years ago. I am super excited about this brand for several other reasons, though. Easily one of the most important reasons is that Parchie is founded by a woman, Cara Barrett, and I am always about supporting women in our industry. I’ve been mentoring women for decades in the watch world. Another reason I love Parchie is that I love Cara’s unabashed admittance that she had an imaginary childhood friend named Parchie and that she not only recalls him but brings him back to life with this line. There are also a host of other reasons I love Parchie, so read on.
Why Barrett Created Parchie
It isn’t every day that a new watch brand emerges on the market, especially a brand aimed directly at children. After all, in this day and age the digital display of time is on every computer, laptop and other surface that kids just don’t recognize the need to tell time via an analog watch. But hopefully their parents know the value. That, plus the fact that there hasn’t really been a new watch brand for children since the 1980’s, inspired founder Cara Barrett to start a new brand she calls Parchie.
“I remember having an imaginary childhood friend when I was about three that I made up when we were on a family trip to Italy. I was the only child, and I was bored, so Parchie came to life,” says Barrett about how she developed the brand name. “I have this vision of a shadow, of someone always being with me, that’s how I remember Parchie. In my mind, I always associated him with me, but I don’t know why he was a he and not a she,” she quips.
Her ability to bring her childhood imaginary friend to the forefront serves Barrett well. She decided she should name the company after him. Let’s face it, how many kids today have imaginary friends (especially during the pandemic). Once she had a name to the brand, Barrett said the project really came to life and took on form. She began working on the brand, the logos, the colors and the sunshine-ball-like character. “I drew Parchie on a legal pad and he turned into an animation. The character stands for being yourself, being quirky and loving time. He’s fun. He’s always late, he’s got a cool watch and so it’s all about the joy of life and the time we have here.”
It was more than a year and a half ago when Barrett started talking to manufacturers about her vision. Barrett was not a newcomer to the watch world. She has been in the industry for about a decade, first in the watch department of Sotheby’s Auction house, and the last five years she worked at the well-respected watch site Hodinkee where she worked to develop the company’s limited edition watches, created with watch companies. “I knew the conversations that needed to happen and I knew the stapes I needed to take to get the product made.”
Parchie Is Anything But Childish
In addition to Parchie being a childhood friend, and the brand being founded and created by a young woman, the product actually also makes us take pause. Unlike a child’s watch with funny characters or television and movie stars on it, Parchie is a serious brand – inspired by vintage dive watches. The character itself is used in marketing and advertising but is not found on the dial of the watch at all.
“I felt there was a gap in offering product for children that might have a more sophisticated deign language, maybe a watch that a parent could love as much as a child and something they could bond over in learning to tell time,” explains Barrett, noting that the watch, while colorful, is actually a miniature dive watch. “The design is important. I referenced vintage dive watches when creating it. You’ll notice the oversized crown and the lugs. The case was also carefully crafted in aluminum to be light weight yet water resistant.”
In fact, the watch looks so good that Barrett says even adults are buying it for themselves (et another cool factor of the multi-generational brand). The watch measures 32mm in diameter, perfect for a slim wrist. It is water resistant to 30 meters so swimming with it on is perfectly okay. It boasts two different colored hands to make differentiating between the hour and minute hand easier for kids. Powered by a Japanese quartz movement, the watch is sold with a nylon NATO strap that measures 4 inches to 6.5 inches to fit kids and parents. Currently two colors are available, but more colors are coming soon. Additionally, the watches are made with safe, non-toxic materials and are free of lead, cadmium and nickel. They are being sold online direct to consumers now at just $50 a pop.
Recalling her childhood friend Parchie and noting that he seemed more of a shadow than a friend, Barret says, “There was a period when I refused to go by ‘Cara,’ and I insisted my parents and family call me Parchie. It has become part of the family folklore. My aunts and uncles always talk about my imaginary friend. So now they’re very excited that he is a physical reality.”
Seems that childhood friend Barrett had is still keeping her company.
(This article by Roberta Naas first appeared in her column on Forbes.com.)