As with many ideas, this one appeared when someone needed something that didn’t exist. The frustrated consumer figured out a way to make whatever it was, filling a void and attracting the interest of friends, many who wanted one, too.
And so the Watchpod was born.
In 2015, “when I bought my first mechanical watch, a Rolex Air-King, I couldn’t find a single watch travel case that provided maximum protection,” said Matthew Catellier, the Watchpod’s designer, and founder of WatchReviewBlog.com. “A traditional watch travel case has a roll, or pillow, in the middle that acts as a barrier,” separating the strap or bracelet from the back of the watch case and keeping the watch positioned within the case.
“But it can move around a lot inside,” he said. And, “those micromovements can create scratches on the watch.”
Mr. Catellier had a solution, which he patented. “I designed a hard case, shaped like a doughnut with an oval, foam-covered support in the center,” and a zipper fastening, he said. “It closes like a clam. There is one cushion on the top, and one on the bottom, so when you close the lid, it locks the watch in place so there’s no movement.”
A Watchpod designed for one timepiece went on sale in 2017, and has been followed by two- and three-watch models. “Our cases have a ballistic 1680 denier nylon exterior, specifically chosen for its durability and water-repellent properties,” Mr. Catellier said. “The case is also crush-proof as it’s been constructed with a hard shell design; it can be crammed into a backpack/suitcase on the go without issue.”
And they fill what Mr. Catellier had seen as another void: “They’re affordable,” with prices from $14.98 to $21.98. The cases are sold on Amazon and late last year went on sale on a new site integrated with Mr. Catellier’s blog, already pushing total sales to 40,000. The one-watch size now comes in black or brown, the multiwatch styles are available only in black.
What do the watch pros think? “It looks to be a clever solution for traveling with a watch on a bracelet (instead of a strap),” Elizabeth Doerr, editor in chief and co-founder of the watch site QuillandPad.com, wrote in an email. “The problem with taking bracelet watches on a trip in a conventional travel case is that the bracelet tends to rub on itself and/or the case back, which scratches the metal. This case seems to neatly solve that by integrating a cushion into the middle of the case and putting extra padding around the rest.”
Jack Seemer, deputy editor of Gear Patrol, a consumer advice magazine and site, said traditional travel holders, soft or hard, had their benefits. “Watch rolls are pretty old school, made from a soft material like canvas or leather. They do a fine job,” he said. “A soft case takes up the least amount of space; you can put it in a jacket pocket.”
“The alternative,” he said, “a hard tube or box, takes up more space. But if you have an expensive watch or one with a metal bracelet, it would be good to consider a hard case.”
Breitling has announced that a soft travel case will be part of its new sustainable, modular and collapsible packaging, to be introduced early this year.
Tim Sayler, the brand’s chief marking officer, said a new watch would sit on a cushion in its presentation box. “The cushion is a travel pouch rolled up,” he said. “When you unroll it, it’s slim and the length of an iPhone. It’s soft, but it is padded” — and made of material woven from recycled plastic drink bottles.
“Other brands use recycled material, but I think our approach is the most comprehensive,” he said. “It’s 100 percent recycled.”
Even though few people are traveling right now, Mr. Catellier is working on iterations of the Watchpod (which, of course, can be used for at-home storage, too). This year he intends to develop a premium line using suede and leather, and is adapting the case to fit smaller women’s watches and in a new color. It’s pink.