Noelle (Interviewer): Hey everyone, welcome to today’s episode of Beta Insider. I'm your host Noelle coming to you live from our beautiful Beta tv studio in San Francisco. And today I am joined by a very special guest. He's going to be joining us live from Los Angeles. His name is Arron Coote and he is the CEO of Bausele. I have a couple of the Bausele watches here with me, absolutely gorgeous and you guys are not going to believe this but these are actually smart watches. He's going to tell us a little bit more about the tech behind the watches and about the brand itself. As Bausele is Australia's premium watch brand. Let's bring him out now and let's get this conversation going,Arron, thank you so much for joining me today. How are you doing?
Arron (Bausele CEO): Doing very well on this very rare rainy day in L.A.
Noelle: We've got some clouds but we've had some good weather so I think we kind of swapped forecasts a little bit.
Arron:One thing I miss about home is rain. It never rains here which I love but I do miss a rainy day.
Noelle: Yeah well so you're coming to us live from L.A. But obviously we can
tell you're not from the U.S.
Arron: You can probably tell from my accent, yeah I’m originally from Australia, from Sydney.
Noelle: So I know that you've got some very close ties to this brand being an Australian brand let's go back though to a couple years ago. I know that you were at the helm of a wildly successful beauty brand. You are an entrepreneur like no other. I feel like you are one of those CEOs where your side hustles have side hustles, you're always working on something. So tell me about the transition into watches and specifically joining Bausele. What inspired the decision to lead the charge at Bausele?
Arron: Look when we sold the company in the beauty space I wasn't planning on going straight back into another role, I was planning on having a little time off and developing some projects. But then when Christo and the guys at Bausele approached me the more I thought about it and the more I couldn't say no to the opportunity to take an amazing Australian brand and promote that to the world. As an expat living overseas I'm proud of Australia and the products that Christo has and the brand that he's created. I'm quite proud of that too and I feel privileged to be able to do it so I couldn't say no.
Noelle: Yeah absolutely and Christo of course is the founder and he founded the company in 2011.
Arron: Yeah he's a Swiss industry or Swiss watch industry veteran and he was working in
Switzerland and met his wife who was an Australian dancer in Geneva. They moved to Australia and he fell in love all over again because he fell in love with Australia. And he said I’ve been designing watches for decades- of all my life and now I can combine my two passions which is where Bausele started. So it started over a love story.
Noelle: I'm a sucker for those sappy romantic love stories and he is of French origin and I just assumed Bausele I thought was this lovely French word and then came to find out it's not. It means something completely different so tell us about where the name comes from.
Arron:Look it sure does because Christo came from the big corporate world within the Swiss watch industry and when he was talking to some of his peers he talked about starting his brand they said make sure you come up with a name that no one can say wasn't yours and that no one can say was theirs. So he thought about it and he came up with Bausele which is Beyond AUStralian ELEments and there's another little twist to that because in the beginning when he was trying to start the brand he was thinking it has to be two things: it has to be uniquely Australian and Swiss made. Swiss made was easy but he thought how can I make it uniquely Australian so what he came up with and he's a quite an interesting guy once you get in his mind, he came up with the hollow crown where he would put some elements of Australia whether it be red earth from Uluru or some sand from one of our beautiful beaches into the crown. And send a piece of the watch out beyond australia into the world and then that's how the name Bausele came about.
Noelle: Okay so Beyond AUStralian ELEments. Yep I love it very very cool and tell me, so you joined the company in 2019, became CEO. And very excited to obviously be the CEO I know that you led the company kind of right off the bat through a pretty major rebrand so tell us about how the brand has evolved to where it is now and where it's going in the future.
Arron:Sure, look, Christophe being French and seeing Australia differently to how we as Australians see it- he was more kangaroos, Ayers rock- all of the amazing things that we don't take for granted but it's not how we live as a majority in Australia. Australian’s are more about great food, great fashion, people striving for success and you know working hard but also having fun along the way. We all live around the coast and it's when you travel and people know you're Australian they soften straight away and they want to know you because Australia has this brand of being fun, adventurous and full of welcoming people. And a watch brand that was selling being too attached to the tourist side of Australia was missing out on an underlying quality of Australians and who we are and how we live adventurous and striving for success and taking life seriously but not ourselves, I guess is the best way to explain it.
Noelle: Yeah absolutely well I've not yet been to Australia but I'm very excited to go especially with what you've just told me. I love that kind of lifestyle, tell me about the brand and product alignment. So here we have the Vintage 2.0 hybrid smartwatch actually let's talk a little bit about the product itself and then we'll go into brand alignment because I want people to know exactly what this watch is able to do because it's very unique, very special and something that when you first look at it you don't even realize it has all of these capabilities.
Arron: Yes it's actually a hybrid connected smartwatch so I'm not sure if you can see that there yeah but that looks like a beautiful vintage dress watch but it's actually tracking my activity, monitoring my sleep and right now that I have my phone on silent it's screening my calls. And I've set my watch to vibrate only when my mum calls because she's overseas and if she calls during this call something's wrong because it's the middle of the morning there but the watch will vibrate and let me know that I have a call from her so you can screen your calls and allow only whoever you want through and the watch will vibrate when they call everyone else will go straight to voicemail. It's quite a tricky watch we really enjoy and it's for us it's about that lifestyle of staying connected but being on your terms not being dictated to by thousands and thousands of notifications that we get all day every day and it's not another screen. It's for us- hey how about put your phone down for a minute we'll still look after you, this watch has got your back if there's anything important it's not going to let you miss it but you can play with the kids or you can go and sit on the beach and have some peace without your phone and you're good, you can be present in what's important to you and you're not going to miss anything.
Noelle: Yeah and you're a father, you're a dad of two right?
Noelle: You have four! Excuse me oh my gosh four.
Arron: I have two adult step children.
Noelle: I needed to double check that number wow so I mean you know with this watch I think being a father of four you're obviously very busy and when you have moments with your kids I'm sure you're just wanting to be present with them. As a parent, what has this watch meant to you and being able to allow you to be more in the moment with your children?
Arron: Sure, look you talked before about side hustles, having side hustles that gets busy upon busy. I mean I don't feel like I work because I love what I do but when it comes to what you would be doing when you're not working you are missing quality time with kids and you know lets just put it down for a minute and let's connect, let's have this conversation and connect and make some memories that aren't just staring at screens and kind of hearing their voice on the side. So for me it's super important.
Noelle: Yeah and I understand you've also struggled with sleep for quite some time. Tell us that story. Probably because of those side hustles right? Too much going on in the brain keeping you awake at night. Tell us about how the watch has really kind of revolutionized your sleep.
Arron:Look usually with the watch process they give me the watch early and I get to test the prototypes and make some suggestions about how to make the watch better. In this scenario or this situation I wasn't expecting for this watch to make a suggestion to make me better, using sleep tracking. I've always been a terrible sleeper my whole life. I turned 50 shortly so that's 49 years of horrible sleep and I just resigned myself to the fact that it was never going to get any better. But then while testing this watch I started to look at the fact that I was only getting 45 minutes of deep sleep per night and that was ongoing. I thought maybe that's an off night then I had a few off nights and then I realized that was all I was getting. And then so I decided to get some tests done and with that data from the watch and found out that my melatonin was peaking mid-morning and decreasing to nothing at night when it's supposed to be peaking at night to help me sleep and being reduced to nothing in the morning to help me wake up. So I realized well I could never sleep and that's why in the morning it felt like someone was lying on me trying to get out of bed like I was just too heavy. And since then I was able to take some melatonin for a little while to at certain times to get things back on track and change a few sleep habits and now for the first time in my life i'm not laying in bed stressing about when I'm gonna get to sleep because I'm getting to sleep quite quickly and more importantly I'm waking up in the morning and kind of wondering who this fresh energetic guy is that I'm becoming. It's still new to me but I'm loving it. I'm much more productive at work, less stressed and I'm happier for sure.
Noelle:Wow and so you wouldn't have known that had you not been wearing the watch?
Arron:No I'd resigned myself to the fact that there was nothing I could do about it. I just thought it was just my sleep habits or sleep patterns and it was actually my melatonin. There was nothing I could do about it until I fixed the melatonin issues.
Noelle: Wow what do people say when they see you wearing the watch out? I'm sure you get a lot of compliments and then you tell people this is actually a smart watch?
Arron:Yeah, look if I'm at a dinner or an event or something a lot of people comment- oh that's a nice watch because it's a vintage looking dress watch that's not overstated it's just a good compliment. And when people say beautiful watch then I say, but do you know this is actually tracking my activity right now? And their whole face changes, they can't understand what's happening they're looking for the screen. And they don't get it and then when I pull out my phone and I show them the app and I show them the data. They say what's the website? I need one of those, I need to be able to leave my phone at home and I need to be able to just chill for a while and know that I'm not missing anything. Or at least put my phone on silent and be able to relax and that's kind of what we're all about.
Noelle: Yeah well I love this one here it goes perfectly with my outfit today I’m probably gonna put it on after this interview. They are so beautifully made and so comfortable as well and I have two of the models here. I have the dark strap here which is the FJ and then the dark brown strap is the XP. Tell me about those names and what is the special meaning behind them.
Arron:Yeah when Christo asked me what's something that is around this era and that is very Australian coming from overseas. And I looked back at around that time that he was trying to associate the watches with and we grew up with all of our parents driving old Fords or old Holdens and they're the cars of our youth. So for these watches the inspiration was the FJ Holden and the Ford XB falcon and the rose gold is the XB and the white face with the beautiful blue hands is the FJ so they're all named after old Australian cars that we grew up with. I mean everything about this is just like you're capturing the spirit of Australia in a watch-a smartwatch no less. Telling the story, the narrative of the country and the country is taking note. And the Sydney Opera House took note and there was a collaboration that was done.
Noelle:Tell us about what that was like for you. Is it a small Australian brand or an emerging Australian brand to partner with the Sydney Opera House?
Arron: The Sydney Opera House had never collaborated with anyone before and Christo in his passion and his drive was able to secure a collaboration as he is an incredibly driven person and passionate. He loves Australia so much and he was able to gain this collaboration and with the hollow crown with the Australian elements we talked about, it opens us up to collaborations with people.The Sydney Opera House actually took a tile down off the Opera House roof, grounded it up and put it into the crown of this collaboration watch. So there were people coming to Australia and taking a piece of the Sydney Opera House with them in our beautiful Bausele watches. For us every watch has to tell a story, you don't just make a watch for the sake of making another watch it has to tell a story. It has to serve a purpose and the story he created with this one for the dial is the sails of the Opera House which all rotate. There are five separate sails that all rotate at different times and they form the shape of the Opera House at 2:45pm every afternoon which is the time when Queen Elizabeth opened the Opera House and cut the ribbon back in I think close to 30 or 40 years ago now. So there were very intricate movement details for that to happen but it's well worth it and the story is what it's all about.
Noelle:Yeah and the connection right and I know another very exciting collaboration that was recently announced with the Royal Australian Air Force so tell us about making and designing a watch for their Centennial celebration which I understand is coming up at the end of this month.
Arron: Yeah the end of this month. For anyone that's an amazing experience, for a brand of any size but for a brand on the smaller side. I mean we're growing quite quickly we're doing some amazing things but this is the most amazing collaboration to date. Both Christo and I grew up loving planes and especially the F-18 fighter jets when they fly past the stadium at sporting events and the whole stadium shakes and everyone's excited and to be able to create a watch with a piece of that on the back of it. A piece of the first ever F-18 fighter jet ever produced and manufactured and flown in Australia, we have an actual piece of that plane on the back of the the watch and to be chosen over some of the biggest brands in the world to be the official watch of the Australian Air Force, we're still pinching ourselves. I’m lost for words, I mean there's so many superlatives I could throw out here now but none of them seem to capture the feeling it's just something we're very proud of.
Noelle: I was going to say when you got the call I mean were you as speechless then as you are now?
Arron: I mean it's a year later and I still can't explain it. It's probably just that the Air Force is something that's known for precision and they're known to not accept anything less than perfection and for them to have vetted us over and chosen us over a couple of behemoths in the watch industry it says that we've arrived. And we're now looking at a couple other big collaborations and yeah I'm lost for words on this one it's just too good. But look it's been very well received. We've had so many people reaching out to us and reserving their numbers and we've got some great stories to tell around that watch. There are I think five or six servicemen who served with the Royal Australian Air Force that are turning 100 this year and one of them is turning 100 on March 31st which is the actual birthday of the anniversary of the Air Force so we're going to present him with the number 100 watch. It's such a good story, I mean to be able to do that is just like it's past being proud or anything to do with business it's just such a good emotional connection and being able to do something like that for someone on such a momentous occasion, it's amazing.
Noelle: Yeah absolutely amazing I love that! I'm so excited to hear more about that and when the event happens at the end of the month. I remember we were talking and you told me I believe it's the first time in 70 years that the Air Force has done a watch collaboration like this?
Arron:Yeah they did one in the 40s and one in the 50s and those watches are now collectors items and they're now worth much more than people purchased them back then. And they did IWC and Jaeger le cartier back in the 40s and 50s, so 70 years since there's been an occasion momentous enough to do it and here we are!
Noelle: Yeah well congratulations on that! I know people can go to the Bausele website and learn more about the watches and learn more about the collaboration with the Air Force. And Arron before I let you go I mean we've had such a great conversation here today and I just know how you know your heart and soul is in this brand. And I know there's so much you know that we talked about how the spirit of Australia is really captured here. I would love to give it to you for this last point, I would love to throw it over to you and what do you want to leave us with about Bausele, about the brand, about your love of Australia, give us some closing remarks here.
Arron: Look we are where Australian design and sensibility meets Swiss precision. We're taking all of the fun and warm welcoming things and adventurous lifestyle about Australia and we're packing it into a top quality premium Swiss watch and you know like if you ever go to Australia I haven't heard anyone that I've met say Australia's not on my bucket list or I don't want to go to Australia no way as soon as you come to Australia where everyone welcomes you. You can be sitting in a cafe on your own and I guarantee someone's going to talk to you as soon as they hear your accent they're going to say hi how are you, where are you from you know blah blah you've got to go and see this while you're here or you should eat at this restaurant and that's just who we are we're friendly and we want to make friends and build authentic real relationships. And that's what I think is behind the brand and that's one of the things I love most about it is that we're all real, we're not trying to say hey we're you know we're not trying to be a watch company we're just trying to be us we're just trying to be Australian and an Australian team presenting a watch that will help promote the Aussie lifestyle that's that's who we are and that's who I am and I yeah I think that comes through in what we're doing.
Noelle: Absolutely and tell us for anyone that's heading over to Australia where they can find Bausele.
Arron: We have a store it's actually our headquarters in Circular Quay in Sydney or The Rocks in Sydney which is right on the overseas passenger terminal it's about maybe a couple of hundred yards walk from the foot of the Harbour Bridge and looks directly across Circular Quay to the Opera House so we're right in the thick of things. 75 George Street come and say hello when the borders open up and we'll buy you a coffee and we'll talk about watches and we'll tell you what you need to see while you're here or jump on the website send me an email and I'll answer your tourism questions.
Noelle: Awesome, Arron thank you so much for being here today and telling us more about your personal story about Bausele. I can't wait to see what's to come from the brand in the future so thank you again.