In a nondescript building in an industrial suburb of Medellin, artists are hard at work creating watches from unlikely materials. Using the traditional materials of Colombia; wood, leather and flowers, the workers of Mistura are creating wearable works of art. Started in 2005, the 15 employee company uses ecologically sustainable methods and resources to bring Colombian artisan crafts to the world. In fact, 95% of all the items created by Mistura and it’s subsidiary company, Fento, which specializes in wooden eye ware frames, are exported for sale in the United States and other countries around the world. Each watch is designed, and created by a team of people located in the small industrial workshop.
Only limited numbers
Mistura produces watches not by the hundreds of thousands but in limited numbers. A white board shows the daily tallies of 60 to 90 watches per day. Last month, Mistura crafted 2,000 watches, and this month will be about the same. But sales of the exclusive product are climbing due to several international distribution centers, including Atlanta, Dallas, Beirut, and the internationally known home for watches, Geneva. Last year, Mistura sold almost 17,000 timepieces. This year they are hoping to sell 20,000 watches. These small sales translate into exclusivity for the growing company, which sends the majority of its product to the United States.
But for Colombians, and visitors to Medellin, Mistura offers an opportunity for consumers to custom design their own timepiece from materials created on site. Using a selection of already completed materials, visitors are able to select the wooden frame, face design, strap and hardware of their own choosing. Not only that, but these custom timepieces are available at a fraction of the American retail price which ranges from 189 dollars to around 700 dollars. With the peso at historic lows, a 260,000 peso price tag (85 dollars at the time of this writing) at the factory translates into a deep discount for on-site visitors. It takes workers about 30 minutes to assemble the watch once the customer has made their selections.
Visitors to the small factory are also encouraged to observe each step of the watch-making process, starting from cut stacks of wood, the machine cutting of the watch face frame, to the delicate painting of designs, and placement of the interior working mechanisms. While several local companies offer the factory visit as part of a package tour (at 85 dollars a person), Mistura welcomes visitors to the factory for free.
Fragile yet functional art
While functional timepieces, these watches require careful consideration. Made of natural woods, including teak, a light-colored balsa like wood and a deep reddish wood similar to California redwood, these watches are not suitable to heavy duty every day use, or impromptu dips in the pool. These materials also impose some design limitations, as the darker wood finishes can stain the lighter colored leather and cork wrist bands. Powered by citizen brand components, the watch faces are composed of a variety of nature-inspired designs, from simple polished wood, to intricate flower arrangements. Due to the delicacy of the materials, the five year warranty covers the workmanship of the watch and inner components, not the durability of the product after abuse.
Carerra 44 #61 Sur 8
To request a visit to the factory, contact Juliana Acosta at firstname.lastname@example.org