A Conversation With Cara Barrett, Founder of Parchie Watches

A Conversation With Cara Barrett, Founder of Parchie Watches

After years of working in the watch industry, first at Sotheby's and then as an editor at the influential watch website and magazine Hodinkee, Cara Barrett began to question why no one had yet made a stylish and functional watch for children. Seeing a gap in the market, Barrett responded with the recent launch of Parchie, a range of fun, waterproof, functional tool watches for children that are as well designed and considered as an adult's watch. As a friend of Drake's we asked her to model some colourful jersey alongside her own watches and spoke about how she came to create her own brand from scratch. 

Drake’s: How did the idea for Parchie come about?

So the name Parchie came to me when I was about three. He was my imaginary friend growing up. I was on a family trip with a bunch of adults, I think I was pretty bored, so I just created an imaginary friend to play with, and Parchie stuck around. He's always been a kind of a character in my family's life.

Then the idea for the watches themselves came about a few years ago. I noticed that there was a gap in the market for a sophisticated, well designed kids watch. I think a lot of kids watches on the market are amazing, but there wasn't an offering that I wanted to give to the kids in my life. I wanted one without characters and one without too many patterns. I wanted to make sure that kids had an option of something that was designed a little bit differently. I wanted it to have a bezel and I wanted it to look like a little mini dive watch with fun colours. I always thought that would be super cute. So the idea came around in 2018, the name came to me for the brand in 2019 and then, in 2020, is when I really hit the ground running with the manufacturing. 

What were the biggest challenges in launching the brand? 

I think the biggest challenge was understanding the lead time and production times and really making sure that I had the product in hand before launching. I had a lot of experience with that type of work from my time at Hodinkee, when I was managing all of the limited edition collaborations. I was able to apply that knowledge and understanding that you kind of have to be really nimble to get stuff done and that allowed me to create this and get it out the door the way that I did. 

Which watches were on your mood board during the design process?

I would say a lot of vintage divers from the 60s. I really wanted to keep the lines clean and pure and the proportions right. So I did look to a lot of kind of big brand vintage pieces from that era. 

How did you become interested in the world of watches? 

They're objects that I've always noticed, in advertising and in general culture. I was always very curious about the watches that people chose to wear and how they suited individual personalities. I do remember very clearly in my early 20s, living in London, I would notice what people were wearing on the bus or on the tube, or at the office and really thinking about why they chose that particular watch. I do think watches say a lot about the person wearing them. If you're wearing something really loud and big, then you're probably more outgoing. If you're wearing something a little more restrained, you're probably more understated. Then when I moved to New York I got a job at Sotheby’s - not in the watch department - but then one eventually opened up there. I couldn’t believe you could work in watches. It all grew from there.

Do you have your own dream watch?

I don’t own my dream watch, but for me it’s 3448 Patek Philippe in white gold. I just think the design is so clean. It’s an awesome watch.

How do you see the brand developing over the next year and beyond?

I want to introduce a lot more colourways, more straps so that you can mix and match, and for people to be able to design their own watch. So choosing your strap before you check out. Then children’s books and larger watches for parents and kids. I know a lot of adults have been buying them for themselves. I want to expand into desk clocks, wall clocks, night lights. I think Parchie can be all sorts of different things! 

Is the analogue element key for you? Would you ever do a digital Parchie?

I think it’s really important for children to learn how to tell time on an analogue watch. I think it incorporates a lot of math and visual learning. I think it’s a skill that shouldn’t die; it’s really important. Kids have enough screen time as it is. I also think that it’s hard to visualise time on a screen. I see the brand as always being analogue… but never say never!

Will watches always be relevant? Do you see digital watches and phones eventually killing them off?

I think watches are so engrained in society in a sense. They've become more of a personality statement and accessory than anything else, and they’re more reliable than digital tools. I don’t think they’ll be replaced. I think people can have both. I use my phone and I wear my watch, I don't see that changing any time soon.