Fiodh Whisky Watches: The Art of Starting Something from Nothing

Fiodh creates watches unlike any you’ve seen before. Each unique design is handcrafted, using reclaimed wood of whisky casks and completed with Scottish leather handstitched straps.

The idea behind the design is all about taking a little part of Scotland with you wherever you go and owning a watch that tells a story, as well as the time.

Fiodh, a brand with a story to tell, that takes a little bit of Scotland with you wherever you go.

We caught up with Michael Youmans, the man behind the magic of Fiodh, to learn about the inspiration behind the iconic Whisky Watch design and find out more about the brand’s story so far.

Could you tell us a bit about your background before starting Fiodh?

From a young age, I’ve been intrigued about how things work, and I’ve always had an adventurous spirit.

I was born in Japan to a Japanese mother and English father. I moved to Newcastle at the age of five for a few years before settling in Scotland near Loch Lomond.

I instantly fell in love with Scotland, its heritage, the outdoors, and the freedom of hiking around the surrounding mountains.

“The core value of the business is to promote the beauty of Scotland with a modern twist.”

My father was an engineer, so growing up I would be presented with toys that would develop my creativity and enthusiasm for making things. I was certain that I wanted to become a designer – a dream that I pursued during my Bachelor’s degree in Product Design at the University of Strathclyde.

Unfortunately, in 2015, my father passed away from cancer and one of the last things we spoke about was getting a Master’s degree in Product Design, which I would go on to complete.

“Combining my love for Scotland, design, and my father’s enthusiasm for watches, I decided to take on a crazy venture to start my own watch company.”

Where did the inspiration for Fiodh come from?

After graduating, I was eager to land myself a design job. Unfortunately, despite having a Master’s degree it was very difficult, especially with the limited number of opportunities in Scotland.

I decided to apply to other countries but was repeatedly turned down for a ‘lack of experience’, even for internships. So, I told myself If nobody would give me that experience then I would give it to myself. 

Combining my love for Scotland, design, and my father’s enthusiasm for watches, I decided to take on a crazy venture to start my own watch company. A plan I set out to achieve with close to no money.

“I was passionate about creating a product that represented Scotland and its heritage.”

I knew if I was going to start any watch business it had to be special, something that has a strong USP. I was passionate about creating a product that represented Scotland and its heritage. Thus, the idea to use reclaimed whisky casks was born.

My first step was to purchase a standard watch, take it apart, and start re-designing it in my sketchbook. For the first few months, I was able to use the manufacturing site at the University of Strathclyde where I would create the very first Fiodh prototypes.

“We live in a world where it is easy to forget about the true connection between the user and the product.”

What makes your product and brand so unique?

Creating a watch business in today’s market isn’t easy as it is very saturated. Because of this, having a strong USP is very important, not just the way it looks or feels, but what it represents. I wanted to create a product that evokes an emotional connection, one that can represent the owner and their ethos.

“Each piece features different grain structures and colour tones once carefully carved from the cask.”

Every watch is one of a kind, not only due to the journey of the wood from each cask but also because of its appearances. Each piece features different grain structures and colour tones once carefully carved from the cask.

What message do you hope to convey through Fiodh?

We live in a world where it is easy to forget about the true connection between the user and the product. We live in such a fast-paced environment that we think it is okay to buy and replace without understanding the consequences of how that affects our environment.

I hope Fiodh can convey the message that we should be more conscious of what we buy and who we buy from. With each purchase, we should ask ourselves what that company represents and how it fits with our beliefs.

What have been your biggest challenges and achievements?

Since I started the business in 2017 there have been a number of important milestones that came from challenging moments.

The initial biggest challenge was to start a business with no money, no experience in watchmaking, and no experience in running a business. However, I saw all these as an opportunity to make more calculated decisions and learn as I went. I knew it would be difficult and an uphill challenge, but that’s when you learn the most.

I will always remember the lowest time mentally and financially when I only had a few pounds left in my pocket after my card declined at the cash point. I will never forget the feeling of being at this point, but have grown stronger through that experience.

One of the biggest achievements was winning the Scottish Edge Award. This reasserted my belief in the business and allowed me to build up enough funds to purchase essential machinery and start producing the watches at a higher standard.

“For those that have sacrificed so much to try to live a life doing what they love, every purchase means the world.”

How important is it that we support independent brands?

Supporting independent brands is so important. Not just in terms of supporting our own economy, but also to support those that have persevered through hard times in their journey. For those that have sacrificed so much to try to live a life doing what they love, every purchase means the world.

“For those that have sacrificed so much to try to live a life doing what they love, every purchase means the world.”

What has been the best piece of advice you’ve received on your journey so far?

The best piece of advice I have received is, “If you can take a positive outlook from every failure then you will never lose”.

Making mistakes means you aren’t afraid to make something happen. It is easy to feel that we can’t do something, but easy will never make us happy. No matter what happens, I will always be proud of what I have accomplished and will take on board all the priceless lessons and experiences. I look forward to more ups and downs and believe that an important foundation has been laid. Now, it’s time to continue building and hopefully inspire those that want to believe in starting something from nothing.

Find out more about Fiodh.

Or discover The Whisky Watch at The Mór Card.