With millennials desiring simple yet stylish, quality watches at an affordable price – but finding the market lacking – two fashion-forward South African engineering students have embarked on a quest to create the perfect arm-candy. The result: Colton James Timepieces – a reasonably priced range of customisable watches made from the finest materials.

As fashion is rapidly evolving, Colton James offers interchangeable straps that enable wearers to instantly update their look. The easy-to-use, quick release mechanism means that no tools are needed. Plus, there are no loose parts that can get lost. As the timepiece itself is classically designed, it will not age, so clients get maximum return on their investment and have a watch head that’s forever fashionable, but can be switched up to echo the trends of the time through the addition of the latest straps. A watch builder is available on the website to help men and women play around, personalise and pick their ideal watch, with a choice of nylon, mesh and leather straps in the season’s hottest colours.

In their pursuit to produce unique timepieces, the founders – Vincenzo Marchesini and Christopher Lowndes – drew design inspiration from history. Interestingly, they found that although the wristwatch dates back to 1810, it was only popular amongst women until men caught on to its convenience during the Anglo-Boer War. At the time, pocket watches were used with wires soldered onto them to loop through a piece of material that would be tied to the wrist. This served as inspiration for the lugs on Colton James watches.

The Anglo-Boer War era also marked the emergence of the propeller aircraft, another innovation nodded to in the design of Colton James pieces through the watch hands. One propeller aircraft that particularly drew the attention of the duo was the PZL P.11 – a rare Polish fighter plane with a distinctive gull wing design that has been captured in the all metal watch buckle. The cowling around the plane’s engine has also been hinted at in the unconventional inverted bezel.

The key differentiator between Colton James’ pieces and those of other brands is their high quality and relatively low cost. This is due to all middlemen (and their mark-ups) being cut out, with Marchesini and Lowndes managing the entire process from design to distribution. The resulting savings enable the team to use top-quality materials from around the world, such as fine Italian leather, a movement made by Seiko Epson Corp. and sapphire crystal glass (the second hardest mineral on earth), in the manufacture of the timepieces.

Going forward, chunkier, multifunction watches will be added to the Colton James collection.

Colton James Timepieces are available online and from selected American Swiss and Prime Time stores in the Western Cape.

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