Studio Underd0g spills the secret sauce of their success Studio Underd0g spills the secret sauce of their success

Studio Underd0g spills the secret sauce of their success

Zach Blass

Editor’s note: Back in January, many of you joined us in our Time+Tide Discovery Studio in Melbourne to celebrate our tenth anniversary. It was a week full of celebrations, events, and even three exclusive launches from three of the most respected microbrands in the game: Furlan Marri, Baltic, and Studio Underd0g. Unfortunately, not everyone was able to join us down under. While guests were privy to live interviews each event day, our founder Andrew McUtchen took the time to sit down with each of the three founders of the brands to have an even more in-depth discussion. First up, Andrew and Studio Underd0g founder Richard Benc chat through all things Studio Underd0g – brand history, philosophy, and, of course, our collaborative and beautifully blasphemous pizza watch collaboration.

We encourage you to watch the full video above, but an abbreviated transcript, edited for clarity, can be found below.

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Andrew McUtchen: Describe Studio Underd0g in three words only.

Richard Benc: Quality, playfulness, and colour.

AM: How many years have you been going?

RB: Three years, so it’s still an infant in the big scary watch world.

AM: Who is the most famous person to wear a Studio Underd0g so far?

RB: I think it’s probably got to be I believe there was a prince in Prince of Azerbaijan and he was spotted wearing went on holiday which I thought was quite cool.

AM: How long did it take you to hit your Kickstarter target? Let’s go back in time.

RB: Oh, that’s a good question. I think it was fairly quick for the initial target I’d set. I think it was done within within the hour.

studio underd0g field pink lem0nade

AM: You know this one: what was your most successful sales window yet?

RB: When we launched the 02 series. I wasn’t really sure how that would be received, but it was our record. We had a nine-hour sales window for it and we did over 2,500 watches which is incredible.

AM: For a value of…

RB: I think we hit £1.8M in sales for that window which is, again, incredible. It goes to show the love for this little passion project of mine.

AM: If your dreams come true, where is Studio Underd0g in five years from today?

RB: I don’t really know what I’m doing tomorrow. Five years time? Absolutely not a clue. In all seriousness, I’m looking at the next 12 months. Some really, really exciting things are planned. I’m not looking at a day beyond that.

AM: What is the biggest challenge you think you’ve faced to even being here in five years?

RB: It’s a challenge that I’m super aware of, which is not burning myself out. But also in terms of the product assortment not getting stale. It would have been quite easy for me to churn through lots of colors of the one series, but where would that have left my brand? So that’s why the 02 Series was an opportunity for me to make a statement to explain what it means to be a Studio Underd0g watch. And I think that kind of approach will ensure that I’m here for many, many years to come.

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AM: What is the one thing you want people to know about Studio Underd0g?

RB: I think when you see it online and you see the images and you see the colors, I think it’s quite easy to see the playful element that the brand brings to the industry. But the one thing that you can’t see from photos online is just the incredible quality of our products, the finishing. So, I guess I want people to know that these are real serious watches that don’t take themselves too seriously.

AM: And what is the one bit of misinformation about Studio Underd0g you’d like to clear up now you have the microphone?

RB: I guess the one thing that people kind of get confused about when they discover the brand is they think everything’s incredibly limited and they think I’m trying to hold stock back from access. And you know, I’m not trying to sell watches, Studio Underd0gs a watch brand we sell watches. And the way we operate I think is a really fair way to if someone’s passionate about the brand. They have their own windows and they’ve got ample time. So yeah, just understanding how our launches work.

AM: What is the skill that you have that makes Studio Underd0g so successful?

RB: So I actually don’t really think it’s a skill. It’s an approach, right? Part of my approach for my brands is honesty and communication – it makes my life a hell of a lot easier. An approach of honesty means I can just say it as it is. And weirdly, that seems to be a bit of a unique approach and that’s something that people really like about the brand. So it’s quite easy for me.

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AM: You have a direct-to-consumer model. What the hell are you doing in a Time+Tide Discovery Studio retail space in Melbourne, Australia?

RB: Well, that’s it though. The way you’ve said it there is you put ‘Discovery Studio’ before retail space and that’s what’s different. I focus on direct-to-consumer, but I want people to be able to discover the brand and in a space like this, you know, what’s not to love? As you said it’s a Discovery Studio.

AM: I know you love it when I ask you flattering questions for myself. So I’m going to ask you: what is different about Time+Tide compared to other watch media?

RB: It starts here with the way you’ve done this store, the brands that you have, the brands that Studio Underd0g is rubbing shoulders with in this space. You’ve got watches from Fears here, you’ve got the guys from Furlan Marri and Baltic. These are some of the key players in my little bubble. So that real kind of focus on enthusiast brands, rather than, you know, what you might find in other sort of high street retailers.

AM: What’s your take on the Time+Tide team? Because you’ve met more than just me.

RB: Whilst I’ve been in Melbourne I have had a chance to meet the team, and the amount of effort, the amount of passion they have for Studio Underd0g is incredible. And you can see that all of them yesterday were rocking the merch and absolutely loving it. And again, just the extraordinary effort that they went to to change this space. People coming up to me saying “Rich this is amazing, well done.” And I was replying that hardly any of this was me. I certainly did the watches, but, in terms of this space, your team did an absolutely incredible job.

Studio Underd0g Hand Delivered Dials 2

AM: Let’s talk about our watches because it’s plural. Everyone expected us to drop one. We dropped two. Let’s talk people through some of the details because you’re a detail man shot out what are the details that really plays you about this watch.

RB: So I think so obviously the pepperoni that we did that was announced for announced you know, coming up to it to a year ago. That was prank pepperoni, the Frank Rooney prank. So again, I always like to ensure that you know, I mean, this is taking it to an extreme, but I like to ensure there’s still some functionality. So the way we’ve sliced the pizza, for example, is on the hour marks every two hours. So you can see that quite easily even though the toppings look totally sporadic. The olives are the other hour markers. So they’ve been kind of placed definitively. So it is still a functional timepiece similar to similar to the good old Hawaiian which is causing astera online at the moment.

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AM: Talk me through the process to get to our final watch designs because we were meant to make an abomination. It was meant to be exactly what it is and yet you I think you’ve just tried with all your mind to make this as beautiful as possible. And you kind of succeeded.

RB: Yeah, I’m surprised with myself actually. So, I started working on some samples before we even knew where the projects would go. We’d have this fun little launch, and I thought why not – even if it just comes to you and I having a prototype each it would be quite fun. I developed some samples and I just wanted to get it absolutely perfect. Part of the effect is “I don’t know why I like it. I should hate it. But I kind of love it.” And that was through just getting the colours bang on. So we changed the cheese, changed some of the toppings, and I think the biggest thing, when you see the watch in person, is the textures and layers. You’ve got this really nice matte effect on the toppings and this more metallic effect of the cheese. Even though it really shouldn’t.

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AM: Are there any details on the Hawaiian that we want to build upon?

RB: It’s a similar thing you know, we’ve got the ham as the hour markers on this one. And, of course, the the idea came from the community because when we first launched this one of the most repeating comments was along the lines of do something with pineapple on pizza, and I thought we missed a trick there. So it had to be done. And I quite like that we already started to poke fun at the Swiss Watch Industry. Why not wind up some Italians as well?

AM: In the quest to become the most unpopular brand and watch media title in the world, how do people get this watch?

RB: So, the watch is hand-delivered. Now, we are, of course, not going to be carrying a stockpile of inventory in a bag or sewn into our jackets wherever we go. What we “hand-deliver” is a QR code with a secret access password. This will then take you to an exclusive access link where you can buy the watch. For those wondering where we will be travelling this year so you can meet us and get an access code, you can head to for our touring schedule of sorts. This is the current list of places, but we plan on adding more.


AM: There is a forum on that page right? Where people can request that we come to where they are?

RB: We are tracking and tallying these responses to inform what places we add to that list. So yeah, please let us know where you’d like us to be. And we will be looking at the numbers. And if there’s a if there’s a community that clearly wants this watch we’ll come deliver some pizzas.

AM: Last question. Is there ever going to be an online drop? I think we can definitively say no.

RB: No plans to. I think it’s integral to kind of this project. Part of the fun is this hand-delivered element. I was thinking you know, if a collector has got 10 watches in their watch box, and they’re deciding what to wear to a watch meetup, that this is the one that they want to talk about.

Studio Underd0g Hand Delivered pricing and availability

The Studio Underd0g x Time+Tide Hand Delivered is a Time+Tide Studio exclusive, or hand-delivered by Andrew or Richard. Price: A$1,150

Brand Studio Underd0g x Time+Tide
Model Hand Delivered
Reference Number 01PIT
Case Dimensions 38.5mm (D) x 13.6mm (T) x 44.5mm (LTL)
Case Material Stainless steel
Water Resistance 50 metres
Crystal(s) Sapphire
Dials Pepperoni, mushroom, basil, and olive or ham and pineapple
Lug Width 20mm
Bracelet Epsom calfskin strap, steel pin buckle
Movement Seagull ST-1901, manual winding, column wheel chronograph
Power Reserve 50 hours
Functions Hours, minutes, small seconds, chronograph
Availability T+T Studio exclusive, or hand-delivered by Andrew or Richard
Price A$1,150