Mark Schwarz creative entrepreneur with a love and passion for mechanical watchmaking, having been witness to some of life's harshest moments, Mark decided that it was time to embark upon his own horological adventure.
1. Describe briefly your childhood?
My dad worked as a service technician and due to work travelled the world together with my mum. They lived and worked in Brazil, Iran and Bangladesh to mention just a few places. I was born in Switzerland but spent the first couple of years in Turkey and Egypt due to my fathers work. We returned to Switzerland just when I started kindergarten. As my mum is British, we only spoke English abroad, so I was the only one in class who couldn’t speak a single word of German. Fortunately as a child you learn new languages pretty fast 😊
School wasn’t always easy. From an early age on I was a lateral thinker and strongly driven by meaningfulness. At school I often didn’t see the point of certain subjects, which of course caused some problems. Often I felt like been pressed into a mold by the system and the more pressure was applied the bigger my resistance was. I think that is why the child has survived in me to this day and will continue to have a space in my life.
2. As a child did you have any driving ambition? What did you want to be?
As a kid, I wanted to become a military pilot and turned part of my room into a cockpit where I experienced a lot of dog fights. As I got older, I wanted to become a professional basketball player and dreamed of a career in the NBA. I even played on the court in winter while the it was partly covered in snow. I can remember passer-by’s shook their heads in disbelieve.
Unfortunately I was one of the smallest on the pitch back then, which did not make it any easier for me and to be honest, I just did not have enough talent 😉.
I had a lot of ambitions over the years, but what has been a common thread running through my life has been my passion for creating things. In my childhood, I was constantly playing with LEGO, building rockets, entire cities and many cool machines.
Later, I reached for the brush and expressed my creativity on the canvas. I am a passionate amateur photographer and love to take photos of spectacular landscapes. My interests have been developing steadily throughout my life, but whatever will remain is my passion for creation.
3. What is your first significant memory as a child?
The Giza Pyramids Sound & Light Show. I was about 3 ½ years old. Together with my mum and dad, we visited the show a couple of times while we lived in Cairo. It was super impressive.
4. Have you ever had another profession? What did you do?
Yes, a couple 😊. I started my career as an electrician. After I finished school, I had no idea what I really wanted to do with my life and no great interest in work in general. In my early 20s, I changed careers and joined the police force where I worked for 6 years in various functions. The time as a police officer was exciting and an incredible school of life. At the same time, I founded my first company. Together with my a friend of mine and business partner I developed Switzerland's first police app for personal information inquiries directly on the smartphone. Software development took me to the finance industry a few month later where I had the chance to develop further and get my master's degree in business administration.
5. Who have you worked for in the past? What made you decide to go in the direction you are currently in.
I have worked in numerous areas, in large and small companies and I know the different cultures of state institutions versus the private sector. Due to the scope of my professional experience, I have a special perspective, which often helps me in my daily work.
The decision to build my own watch brand was a gut decision. I've always been crazy about watches. Since I received my first Flik Flak from my parents I was fascinated by these machines, that can be strapped to the wrist. The older I got, the crazier the creations became, that I dreamed of.
In 2012 I got serious about creating my own watch. A watch that does no focus on timekeeping, but the importance of time. The project became a kind of catalyst through which I was able to turn what I experienced during my time at the police into something positive, and also let the creative side of me from the leash. Apart from that, what could be cooler than creating your own dream watch?
6. What’s the worst job you’ve had to do?
Working in a 1.5m wide sewer pipe installing electrical cables while the sewage water is running into my shoes wasn’t really fun. Nor was drilling holes into the walls of a new construction facility in the freezing rain until the drenched drill started to electrocute me. But the worst I experienced was actually during my work as a police officer. Having to explain to a woman and her two children, that you could not save her husband despite resuscitation, that was really bad.
7. What’s been the hardest moment in your life so far, and how did you overcome it?
To experience how a person dies without being able to do something about it. The helplessness in this moment and the realization that it will hit us all at some point. Some break at this point, for me it was a huge motivator to focus on what makes me happy.
8. Who has had the strongest influence on you? What are your greatest inspirations?
My spouse. She has accompanied me for over 13 years and is THE constant in my life and influences me a lot.
I do draw inspiration from almost every encounter with everyone I meet, as each of us has an exciting story to tell. When you go through life with interest and curiosity, you find inspiration literally behind every corner.
9. What are you most proud of?
I am very proud of VAULT. Together with an extremely talented and motivated team, we have been able to write a small but fine chapter in watchmaking history with our V1.
10. What advice would you give to a 20 something someone thinking of taking a similar path as you?
My advice is the following: Time is the most valuable asset you will ever have. Spend as much time as possible on what you are truly passionate about and what makes you happy. It does not matter if you are an employee, manager or an entrepreneur. It is important that you understand that the route is your destination.
11. Name three things on your bucket list.
A flight to the moon.
Climb the Matterhorn.
Scuba diving with white sharks.
12.Where do you think the industry is going to be in 10 years time.
I believe online sales will definitely gain traction in the industry over the next 10 years. By that I mean that more and more customers will be comfortable with buying an expensive watch online. On the one hand trust in online channels will increase, while virtually experiencing watches will be on a different level. Augmented reality will probably play a certain role.
Furthermore, I believe the retail sector will continue to feel the heat as the big brands will put more emphasis on their own stores while small indie brands will focus more on B2C channels. Which with the help of social media has become far easier than it was 10 years ago.
To learn more about Mark Schwarz www.vault.swiss