( NEW YORK TIMES )
Swiss made watches Daniel Morf, Frédéric Polli and Jean-Loup Ribordy wanted to sell something online from their hometown, Martigny, at the foot of the Swiss Alps. "We were in Switzerland, where we have chocolate and watches," said Mr. Morf, 35. The answer wasn't chocolate. Instead, it was a site called 121TIME - www.121time.com -, which sold 3,500 watches in 2004. It offers four distinct men's and women's watch styles that can be customized on the computer screen. Customers can modify existing pieces or start from scratch - with a custom bezel, multiple band styles and materials, and mix-and-match faces and hands. Prices start at $148.
121TIME's watchmakers assemble the pieces, all with quartz movements. The company is introducing a spring line with tangerine and purple faces. Mr. Morf and Mr. Polli left their jobs in 2001 to start the site, and Mr. Ribordy joined them after finishing a master's degree in business administration at the University of Lausanne. Developing a new watch brand was difficult, especially for a small company, Mr. Morf said. "If you're not distributed, you don't sell," he said. "But selling over the Internet opens you up to new people."