Animal Watches are renowned for their reliability in extreme environments. Engineered to withstand the worst the waves can throw at it, the Animal watch is an accessory designed to survive. From the slope to the surf, Animal watches are every bit the creatures of endurance the name suggests.
Animal was founded in 1987 by two students who met at university on the south coast of England. At the time, they had no idea they were about to create a freesports lifestyle brand. All they knew is that they were tired of wearing watches prone to breaking when they were surfing in the sea. Their shared passion for fun and freesports combined with the engineering knowledge they picked up in their studies led to the development of an unbreakable webbing and velcro watchstrap and a way of funding a lifestyle they were both totally addicted to.
Initially setting up a factory in their own bedrooms, they produced small quantities of the innovative Animal surf straps which at the start only earned them enough to cover their surfing expeditions.
But the quality of the Animal strap they developed, their sheer rugged reliability of it, meant their product began crossing over into other sports, like windsurfing, snowboarding, snowboarding, skateboarding and mountain biking. The Animal watch strap was a performance product and inevitably led to the production of a range of Animal watches aimed at the freesports market that Animal had grown up in.
Functional, stylish and water-resistant, Animal watches proved a hit and 23 years on from that fateful meeting, Animal is a household name. Boasting thousands of products and a host of brand ambassadors across the key freesports areas of surfing, snowboarding, windsurfing, mountain biking and kitesurfing.
“Today we are a true multi-channel brand, distributed across many countries,” says Kevin Keaney, chief executive officer of Animal. “But all of our staff remain truly passionate about the brand and our products. “We also sponsor a large team of riders who represent our brand at a grass roots, national and world-class level.”
In the early days before Animal moved to its current headquarters in Poole, production took place in a small garage using just Kevin's mum's sewing machine. It was in the garage that the distinctive claw-like logo and patterns were coined. Attention grabbing fluorescent colours were used in the very first watchstraps and are still present in Animal's designs today. Everybody knows when Animal’s riders are competing at events because there’s a blur of fluorescent colour speeding around the course.
“At the very heart of our brand is still that fanatical love of freesports and the freesports lifestyle,” Kevin says. “It's what inspires and thrills us and makes our values real. Perhaps one of the reasons Animal has continuously pushed forward and steadily grown is that our staff today have dreams and ambitions and the drive and determination to realise them. It's what gets us fired up, out of bed and into work every morning - ideally with a quick session at the pier before - just like it did back in the beginning.”