EP.6 CHAT WITH RISING STAR DOMINIC RAINS
Chaz: Welcome to the wristful thinking podcast, where we explore watches and other topics. Hi, my name is Chaz and I'm the co-founder of LIV Swiss Watches. LIV is a brand that's sole purpose is to create unique timepieces for watch lovers all over the world. In today's episode, I have the pleasure of chatting with Dominic Rains. Dominic stars as Dr. Crockett Marcel, an ace emergency room surgeon on NBC's hit series Chicago Med and here is our conversation.
Chaz: Hey Dominic, how are you? How's it going?
Dominic Rains: So good to be here, man.
Dominic Rains: I'm glad we made it happen.
Chaz: Yeah, I know, right?
Dominic Rains: Absolutely. I was just saying I find it so fascinating how this whole thing came to be. All of a sudden you enter into a new project, and you look a certain way. They give you a stethoscope, pens, and all these different things. And then Chris Shader, he's a fantastic props master, gave me a watch. I wore that for a good chunk of time, and I just remember just looking down and going "this isn't the watch, man, there's something about this watch that doesn't click."
Dominic Rains: And my two cousins, they're fantastic nurses down in Tennessee. Their father, my uncle, he's retired now, but he's a general surgeon. And I always noticed growing up, they're a little bit older than me (the cousins), but they always had these great watches. And they weren't fancy watches, they weren't going to work with Rolexes, but they had these really great watches, whether it was a high-end Casio Sport G-Shock or whatever it was. They would be really solid, solid watches that you could put through the ringer. And I just remember my cousin, Bobby was like, "Oh man, sometimes in the middle of a shift, we'd take off my watch and we'd take off the bands and play hockey with it, in the middle of the ER when it was dead."
Chaz: That's crazy.
Dominic Rains: I was like, oh man, I appreciate that, but he goes, then something will come in, I'll pick it up, put the straps back on and I'd go at it and this thing would go through thick and thin with me. I had a deep appreciation for that. I just remember when I told Chris, give me some time, I'm going to find a new watch. So, I go online and I put in something, I forget what I put in the Google thing, but anyhow, whenever you put in new watches or sports watches or whatever, you get a row of these watches that come up. Well, the LIV Watches is part of that and one of the watches comes up and immediately, of all the watches that were there, boom, my eyes go straight to that. So, I start investigating and I pull up your guy's website and I see all these amazing watches and I was like, this is what he (Dr. Marcel) would wear.
Chaz: Yeah, I think that came from a rugged perspective. we're definitely right there but, listen, I wouldn't recommend playing…
Dominic Rains: It's elegant too.
Chaz: I wouldn't recommend playing hockey with our watches as the puck.
Dominic Rains: Yeah, no, I wouldn't do that either. That was a different thing altogether, but what it showed me was that a watch for these guys and what it is that they do being in this line of work, being the frontline, it was an important part of their makeup. It was an important part of what they wore day in and day out that that kept things going. Every second counts and having something that's very reliable to the point that it can help you in, and throughout the hospital, that's what I got out of it. That was the fun part of taking it off and playing hockey with it. Obviously, I wouldn't do that.
Dominic Rains: But I had a deep appreciation for their watches and, in the end that stems back to my dad as well. But it was really nice to come across your company, and to see the solid watch. Funny enough, Chris ended up getting the same watch. When the watches came in, he was like, dude, this is a solid watch, man. You hold that thing in your hand and you just feel it, you know what I mean? I'm in this, make-believe play world but to have that thing on the wrist and you're just in the midst of all this, when you're in the scene, it's nice, it adds weight to it. So, anyway, man-
Dominic Rains: Yeah, for sure, beautiful work.
Chaz: Thanks man. So, the idea of LIV when we started, we wanted to make something that someone wouldn't feel like they have to babysit it because it's just not real world. Having a watch that looks good, feels good, has the weight and just feels like you could just throw it around and not have to worry about it too much, it's great and that's how we build every single one of our watches. They’re just built with that in mind. Even some of our more complicated watches, if you look at them, they're built with the same construction that we use on all our watches. I don't want to say overbuilt, but definitely built to the standards so somebody could literally wear it every day, bang it around, slap it on your desk, and not have to worry about it.
Dominic Rains: So, how did all this come about? Where did the initial idea come from? What was it that you wanted to tackle with these watches that you felt was a little bit different from what already out there? Because I feel it's such a unique watch. It really is. It's truly a unique watch. I've been in a lot of stores, a lot of department stores, seen a lot of watches over the years, and this is very unique, this stands out to me.
Chaz: I'll get back to where it all started, but first, talking about that Rebel watch, when we were having a discussion to define the next design and concept, everybody was saying to me, don't do any square watches, they just don't sell. And I just felt that the motto of the brand is unique so, okay, maybe it's not for everybody. But those that are going to look at it and love it are not just going to love it, they're going to die for it. And that's the reaction that I wanted to have so, that's why we did that. But I've been a watch guy since I was a child.
Dominic Rains: You have to be to have a company.
Chaz: Yeah. You really have to-
Dominic Rains: It's a passion project, watches. It's not like thinking today I want to get into watches, you really got to have a passion for it.
Chaz: My dad had some watches but nothing crazy, nothing really expensive. He had some watches when he got married back in, I'm the youngest of six, so my parents are quite old at this point, even though thank God, they're doing great with COVID and everything. But my father had some manual wines, 14 karat gold mechanical watches, one of them that he got when he got married and another one that he used on a day-to-day basis. But we're going back to that generation where a watch was more utilitarian, and you needed a watch to tell time. It wasn't just having something nice where it is today, like having something unique and having something different. It was more like, I need to know what time it is so I can get to the train. I need to know what time it is so I get my airplane.
Dominic Rains: Yeah. Completely.
Image credits: © 2019 NBCUniversal Media, LLC
Chaz: Then my brother went to Switzerland and brought me back one of those Swatch watches, I don't know if you remember those-
Dominic Rains: Of course. Yeah.
Chaz: It came in a long plastic case, and I remember at night I would stick it back at the plastic case until the plastic case broke.
Dominic Rains: Right.
Chaz: Every night I would lay it in there, I'm laying it in there and then-
Dominic Rains: Oh, I did that.
Chaz: So, that was quite unique, that was more young and fun, and that was literally my first entry to watches. Next, I actually got n to, I don't want to say this because, I'm mostly into mechanical and analog watches now, but at one point, I went through a phase of digital watches. Remember the Casio, the data bank watches with the calculator and the keypad?
Dominic Rains: Oh, my God, I was infatuated with that watch. I wanted that watch, I think I went through two or three of them.
Chaz: Yeah, it was crazy. You needed the teeniest fingers to do anything with it. Literally you had to use a Q-tip or a toothpick to get anything done on it, but it was just fun. I went through a phase where I went to those digital watches, but I ended up going back to analog watches after I came down here to go to school in Miami. I just randomly, I feel like life is a bunch of little interactions that cause bigger things to happen, you know?
Dominic Rains: Yes.
Chaz: Exactly. No one remembers the flat line. I don't want a logo like a flat line, but I'm saying, I think it's disingenuous to say that everybody's going up.
Chaz: You meet somebody or you run into something and you end up going down a completely different road. And that's what happened with me. I was in school and a buddy of mine said his uncle had built this watch brand. He says, you got to come to my uncle's house, you got to see his watch collection, see what he's got going on there. I'm like, really? Please take me. So, I went over there and one thing led to the other. Eventually, they said, what are you doing next year? I told them I don't know, I'm not sure if I'm going to continue school or what I'm doing. I just love watches, and I'd love to see what we could do. One thing led to the other, I said, can I come over to your office? I went over to their office. See what's going on there? Just a little puppy running around trying to get close to what's going on over there.
Dominic Rains: Right.
Chaz: So, they said do you want to come? We don't really have a job for you, but do you want to pack watches, or do you want to go back to school? And I'm thinking, you know what? I think I want to come pack watches.
Dominic Rains: Wow.
Chaz: So, I just went there, started packing watches, and then one thing led to the other. They put me into sales and then from sales, I went into production. Unfortunately, they went out of business five years later. And then obviously, I wasn't going anywhere at that point. But I was going to stay within the watch industry. So, I was just buying and selling watches; I was trading basically in all the high-end watches, the Rolex's and stuff. I was trading and I did that for about five, six years. And then, I opened up my first e-commerce website to sell watches online.
Chaz: About then I met Esti, and right after that, I was really, really bored as to what was going on. I just didn't feel like I was actually making a difference or doing anything. I felt I was just literally a go-fer, "I need this, go get me this." I felt there was a lot more and interestingly enough, there's a company that I had worked for early, the Daniel Mink Watch company. After they went out of business, they ended up getting divorced, but the wife got remarried and she opened up a new brand. She called me and said, "Hey, I'm opening up this new brand, do you want to come help me with this new brand?" So I said to Esti, maybe we can go over there and see what they're doing.
Chaz: We helped them launch their small brand; it was an online brand. From there, I started thinking, okay, I know how to make all these pieces work. I've done production, I've worked with designers, we're going to build something. I really felt it could work, and I was the one coming up with the crazy ideas. All the while, Esti was the one that was saying, okay, this we can do, this we can't do. She's like the voice of reason.
Dominic Rains: Right. That's a hell of a team right there?
Chaz: Exactly. Next, we just decided to just do it, just jump in all the way, and do what I do. I stopped what I was doing on the side because I was doing both at one point. We just decided to jump in, and we literally did everything different. Everything from the product design; where we decided that instead of hiring a designer, we curated designers that wanted to come work with us. To make this happen, we ran a design challenge to help us with the design. We went on Kickstarter to prove our concept and then just one thing led to another. Along the way, we built an amazing team here. There were nights where literally I did not sleep.
Dominic Rains: Sure.
Chaz: Actually there still nights I don't sleep, but if it's your passion and you love it there's nothing better than coming to work every day. It's not even work, I don't even want to say, it's work. You come every day to the office and you hang out and you're looking at new concepts, new ideas, talking to people that buy our products. We have a great, great team and we also have amazing fans that really love and back the product and they back the brand.
Dominic Rains: Yeah. And I could definitely vouch for that, man. Where did you come up with the name and the symbol? Where did those come from?
Chaz: The name was quite simple; we're sitting around the table, we had a list in an Excel sheet, and we were coming up with these random names. I didn't want to name it after me, I thought it was a little pretentious. And so, we were thinking up all these other names. In the process, I was thinking to myself, I'm not going to fake it and say like Giorgio, or whatever, you know what I'm saying? It's not me. Why would I do that? And, when we were putting together the persona for the brand, we kept going back to living life, living life. We kept saying that word like what is the person? What does he like to do? He likes to live life, she's not a follower, he's a non-conformist, he lives to the fullest. We kept saying the word live, and we realized if we built a word cloud, the word live kept coming up. We decided okay, we'll just call it LIV. It's simple, it's short, it's three letters, and it works.
Dominic Rains: Absolutely, okay. And what about the symbol? That's very unique.
Chaz: At that point I had a designer that was working for me. I'm saying let's come up with a symbol that looks like an axis, so it looks like a watch but heading north or south; which way are you going in life? Are you going up or are you going down? Because no one-
Dominic Rains: That's great.
Chaz: So that's what it was. It was like the watch with a strap that's pointing north and south, life's a circle-
Image credits: Cinemablend
Dominic Rains: That's fantastic, that's on a deeper level direction. You think about what it means to, for me, when it came to owning watches, wearing watches always had to have some part of it that had to do with direction. Do you have direction in life? Are you going after your purpose? Is your purpose being met? Are you doing something every day to engage with that, which is helping you accelerate? I love how that whole direction, the compass to show where you’re going, are you moving up? And then, you know about the ebbs and flows of life too, you know-
Chaz: Exactly. No one remembers the flat line. I don't want a logo like a flat line, but I'm saying, I think it's disingenuous to say that everybody's going up.
Dominic Rains: It allows you to have an appreciation for those moments when you're down. It's inevitable. Failures are inevitable. It's just a part of what we do. It's birth and death. We run away from death, but death is inevitable. There's some part of it when you embrace it, you allow yourself to let go of any idea of trying to run away from it. Or that your life should be to be able to adapt, to move with whatever life's throwing at you. This is so imperative for emotional and spiritual growth, that I feel like you throw it out the window when you don't want to accept that you're in a place that is incredibly challenging and difficult that maybe you took 10 steps back. So, I love what your watch is representing, Hey, you're going to have those moments, allow yourself to experience that but yet-
Dominic Rains: There's still the compass, you still know where you're going, there's direction there, just take it and live and keep flowing with it. And I think that's profound Chaz, that's really great.
Chaz: Thanks man.
Dominic Rains: It makes me that much more excited to wear this every day. We wonder why things jump out at us, why that day, all of a sudden, for your watch to just jump right out at me. Then, I call up Chris to say, of all the watches that I've seen and name brand watches that you would know of, I don't care about any of those, this watch right here, it's doing something, it's saying something. I don't know what it is yet but let's research it, let's get in contact with them. I think this is something that is unique and it's different. I don't want to have anything like anybody else's got, I want it to be my thing, Dr. Marcel's thing. Let's do that, let's bring that, let's learn a little bit about this. So one of-
Dominic Rains: I’m with you on this.
Chaz: There's a new, smarter consumer, who's just not going to be swayed by, let's say, high profile celebrity endorsements. I do feel the new consumers are very savvy. I think they're looking not just for typical name brands; they're looking for something a little bit different. They're looking for something unique in their life. And the run of the mill stuff just doesn't work for everybody. But I think there's a whole marketplace of people that have a mind of their own, and they're willing to go out and look at other brands. That's who we are.
Chaz: We're not going to capture everybody, and we don't want to capture everybody. We don't cater to everybody. We're definitely a brand that's for that person who’s looking for something unique. Whatever it is you're into, I'm into watches, I'm into bikes. I'm always looking for that small niche boutique brand that has a true passion, that's not run by some big conglomerate that's just pushing numbers and looking at spreadsheets all day.
Chaz: I think there’s a new consumer. We always talk about who is the new person wearing the watch and are they the smartwatch guy? Are they the person who simply wants something a little bit different? My dad used the watch as a utility; he didn't really care so much about watches. Today's consumer, they like certain things that aren’t about the utility. So, it's a different purchase. When someone buys one of our watches, they're not buying it because they're trying to tell time, because in reality, if you want the perfect time, you could just go buy a cell phone.
Dominic Rains: Yeah. And I imagine that now more than ever, when we speak of brands, there's a lot of people again, who want to reach out for those brands and wear those because they're trying to make a statement, or whatever it may be. But you're right, look, for a good chunk of time I wasn't wearing watches and I started wearing watches again when I came across LIV. Part-
Chaz: Do you have a smartwatch?
Dominic Rains: Do I have a smartwatch?
Dominic Rains: I do. But I gave it away.
Chaz: I love what Apple is doing, don't get me wrong but I feel it's almost like a drug-
Dominic Rains: Yeah.
Chaz: It doesn't stop. The phone’s always ringing. If it's not WhatsApp, then it's Instagram people messaging you, it's Twitter, it's literally taking over people's lives. They could walk around naked but the phone's got to go with them, and then you put it on your wrist and you're like, Dick Tracy.
Dominic Rains: And I think about the future. Before you get the ankle bracelet and the collar, whatever else is going to come out, I mean -
Chaz: Put a chip in your brain.
Dominic Rains: Chip in your brain. It just feels like it's nonstop. And I feel the keeping up with the Jones is literally taken over, it's destroying our world.
Chaz: It's not just keeping up with the Jones, its literally a controlling zombie, controlling our lives. I feel like that myself. I fight it all the time. I wake up in the morning and I'm on the phone and things are buzzing and it's 15-
Dominic Rains: Absolutely.
Chaz: I have 10 Apps and there's 14 different messages coming through. I'm not even talking about regular emails, I'm talking about everybody's trying to do something or vie for your attention and you don't get to live. You see what I just did there? You don't get to live because you're too busy. Yeah, there's something about having a simple watch that tells time. Don't get me wrong, I actually love the fact that there's a smartwatch out there only because it's reintroducing the idea of wearing something on your wrist to a lot of people who've lost it because they're like, why do I need a watch when I have a cell phone?
Chaz: And then once they got the smartwatch, they're used to having something on their wrist. They realize, okay, I look like an idiot running around with this thing. I'm not going to wear this to a wedding or go to a bar where it's going to be buzzing and blinking all over the place. I want to have something nice. I want something unique. I want something different. We find a lot of people moving away from the smartwatch and moving into a simple analog watch that tells time with real hands where you can view time in 3d and not some digital bam, bam, bam.
Dominic Rains: I find that we underestimate the consumer who is constantly trying to get rid of things that are not useful, trying to reduce the clutter, who appreciates simplicity. And I feel like as we get older, you know what I mean? And we're constantly faced with an existential question, we're constantly faced with our mortality, there's an aspect of who we are that goes enough, let's get rid of the noise, let's get down to the bare bones of it all, let's see what really matters and-
Chaz: Time runs.
Dominic Rains: That's it. We're talking about LIV Watches about the simplicity yet, the other uniqueness of it is just part of the ease in wearing it, but also an appreciation. And you know better than I do this thing it's got some weight to it, man. I mean-
Chaz: Yeah. It's not small.
Dominic Rains: It's not small but it doesn't take over. It's not taking over-
Chaz: The DDC is beautiful watch, it's one of my favorites. So, tell me a little bit about yourself. So, you were born where?
Dominic Rains: Yeah, I was born in Iran, '82 right at the height of the Iran-Iraq war, and a very difficult time for my family. My parents fortunately, were able to get us out in '84-
Chaz: How did you get out?
Dominic Rains: That's a giant story actually, interestingly enough, I'm writing it right now-
Chaz: All right.
Dominic Rains: Because it's-
Chaz: Can I get the short version?
Dominic Rains: Yeah. The short version is, my parents were able to through certain connections, its not like my parents were rich or wealthy or anything like that, we had certain family members who were on the periphery, working in the government who basically had been there since pre-revolution. So, they were-
Chaz: The revolution was '79, '80, right?
Dominic Rains: '79, you got it. And then obviously it bled into '80 but really '80, what ended up happening is Saddam Hussein saw how vulnerable we were because of the revolution and so, he just saw it as a great moment to attack. But there were some family and friends that we had in the government and we were able to get our passports and such. But interestingly enough, a week before we left, it was like seven or 10 days before we left, everything was stolen. So, within a very short period of time, my parents were able to get passports again, get tickets, and we got out.
Dominic Rains: It was a very-
Chaz: Everything, someone robbed you guys and-
Dominic Rains: Robbed us. Everything.
Dominic Rains: Completely robbed us. Yeah.
Chaz: Did your family have to leave everything behind? You couldn't sell anything, right? You had to be careful when you're selling-
Dominic Rains: Everything. Yeah. It was literally a new beginning. It was a very dramatic departure and we moved to-
Chaz: How old were you?
Dominic Rains: I was two at the time.
Chaz: Oh, wow.
Dominic Rains: Yeah, I was two, I have a brother who's one year older than me, so he was three at the time. It was just the four of us. And we arrived in London and it was just if there was any cinematic imagery that comes to mind of a couple with two babies in their hand and you're just in a completely foreign land, just not knowing what the next day is or what that day is going to hold or the next day or what the future holds. But through the kindness of others, the hard work of my parents, my dad was very talented guy through construction and interior design, was able to secure a life for us there.
Chaz: That's amazing.
Dominic Rains: It truly was hats off to him and my mom because I'm literally writing their life story in that period of time. It's a movie, thinking of what they went through; it's beyond what I could fathom. I wouldn't know-
Chaz: I can't imagine. How did they actually get to London? Was it a direct flight or did they via another-
Dominic Rains: Via Frankfurt. Frankfurt, Germany.
Chaz: But they got a flight to Frankfurt and then they got-
Dominic Rains: They got a flight to Frankfurt. Yeah, they got a flight stop off in Frankfurt and I remember my mom telling me that was a very strange moment because we stepped out into the Frankfurt airport and the four of us were just catatonic. She said, you guys were sleeping but your dad and I were catatonic and just sitting there on the floor in the Frankfurt airport and your dad just got up, went and got us a couple of beers and couple of sausages. And we were just eating, it was like we were devoid of any emotion. We can't believe we just went through what we went through and here we were just completely, glassy-eyed not knowing what was going to happen next-
Chaz: Did you have a family in London or did you guys-
Dominic Rains: My grandfather was the only person who was there at the time, but he had a very small place and he wasn't going to stay in London for much longer because he was going to head out and come to the States, which we didn't end up doing until about six, seven years later. My grandparents along with my aunt and my uncle, they had settled in Dallas. My aunt had told my mom, look, this is a great place, it's cheap, it's expanding, it's developing so why don't you guys bring the kids out here? They have good school system and you guys can be closer to us. My mom really wanted that and so, she left with my brother and I in '90. My dad followed a year later because he ended up having to help tie up loose ends with the home and a lot of other stuff.
Chaz: Wow. Amazing story. I can't wait to see the book and to hear more about how that happened, because I'm always interested in knowing how people came to the new world. Basically that's what it is for you guys. When you guys are coming out of some third world, whatever craziness to some normality.
Dominic Rains: I know, man, especially during that time, even though the Shah has had created such a modern Iran, it was all of a sudden, these guys, this regime came into power and just ran everything back 200 years, man. I mean-
Chaz: It's crazy. And it’s still there.
Dominic Rains: It's still there and they robbed the people, and they continue to-
Chaz: They robbed the wonderful culture, I mean the Iranian culture.
Dominic Rains: Beautiful culture.
Chaz: Iranian culture is unbelievable. It's just amazing how-
Dominic Rains: Actually unbelievable. You're absolutely right about that, man. It's so sad to see to this day you see good people just, Iran is I think number two for the most executions of any country right behind China.
Chaz: That we know of.
Dominic Rains: That we know of. Yeah. Well said. But they're constantly executing people who question their authority, their lack of human rights, the lack of freedoms that they have and rightfully so.
Chaz: There's a famous chess player right now from Iran called Alireza Firouzja. He left Iran, and the government warned him, basically saying, if you play Israel and you play any Israeli chess players, we'll execute you. And so, he just gave up. He was out on a tournament or something and he never went back. I don't know what happened to his family, but you look them up. He's 16 or 17 years old. And the kid is crazy, amazing, he's got a mind, he's going to be world champion one day.
Dominic Rains: Wow, I had interest in working for a film that was going to shoot in Israel and the first thing they did is, is he okay going to Israel? And I was, just what's the issue? Of course I'm okay going Israel. And I was, I had to take a step back and go, oh, that's right. If I go to Israel, if I decide to go see my family again because my whole dad's side of the family, they're all in Iran. And-
Chaz: Oh, you're saying that if you have a passport that has a Israeli stamp on it.
Dominic Rains: Obviously I try to get a new passport, American passport if I ever wanted to ... I've only been to Iran twice since we left there.
Chaz: How is it by the way?
Dominic Rains: I feel there's an air of sadness that permeates throughout that whole-
Chaz: Rich culture completely destroyed.
Dominic Rains: Such a rich culture, look, when you get to the outskirts of it and you go into more of the down to earth, all of it is really down to earth, but I'm just saying when you get out of the cities and out of the metropolis and you go a little bit more into the villages, it feels a little bit more grounded. But you can feel the angst, you can feel the frustration, you can sense it, it permeates in and throughout a city like Tehran. Shiraz was a little bit more chill because it's, they know that there's only so much that they can enforce in a city like Shiraz because Shiraz is such an ancient city and there's so much of it. It's a really beautiful place and architecture-
Image credits: Elizabeth Morris/NBC.
Chaz: That's where everything started for God's sakes, we all came from that part of the world. it's just, everything's from there. When you go there are you worried?
Dominic Rains: Look, I don't know what the next time would be like, I don't know the next time I plan on visiting there. I'm definitely concerned and worried if I were to visit Iran again. I don't know, maybe someone would say, ah, don't worry about it, you're overthinking it. And then there are people who say, I don't know, I wouldn't do it.
Chaz: I see Shiraz. I'm actually looking at a map but if you tell somebody that you can go skiing in Iran, they don't even know that.
Dominic Rains: No, man, and yet it has-
Dominic Rains: It's insane. Yeah, it's such a beautiful country, just the little bit that I've read outside of Tehran on the way to Shiraz. I haven't explored Iran the way I would like to someday, it's such a beautiful-
Chaz: I sound like I know what I'm talking about, I'm just looking at Google maps. Its funny stuff but yeah, I mean it's pretty interesting, my dad was originally from Belarus-
Dominic Rains: Okay.
Chaz: During the war he ended up in Uzbekistan. He grew up in Uzbekistan in a small city called Samarkand and I was listening to the stories, I always ask him because I want little nuggets. I'm quite interested in history and so, I've always asked him, how did you get out? What was it like? What was the train? He's like oh, come on, I was nine years old, I don't remember everything. I’d say, just give me an idea because I find it so interesting. Uzbekistan, Samarkand is literally next to China almost.
Dominic Rains: Right.
Chaz: It's on the border of Tajikistan and somewhere but I always find it interesting, these people had nothing. They were getting handouts until they made it all the way to the States. So, it took them five years to go from Uzbekistan to United States.
Dominic Rains: Wow, this is your family?
Chaz: Yeah, my parents. So, this is my father. Yes my father grew up in Uzbekistan and in 1951, ended up coming to the States via Austria and France after the war. He was with his-
Dominic Rains: Oh, wow.
Chaz: Parents. And then my mother who's also from the similar area when my father was in Russia, her parents had moved to Israel in the early '30s. So they missed the whole war. They were living in Israel and she came here when she was nine years old and then they met here. It's just interesting how all these things happen, how these people actually made it out. So I'm always interested in knowing where you came from, especially, outside the US. Listen, don't get me wrong, being born in the States and growing up in the States is also interesting as a story, but there's something about having to run away from Iran after the Shah gets run out of his country. And you have people chasing you to the airport.
Dominic Rains: Literally. Unbelievable. I'll definitely share that with you when the time is right. I mean.
Chaz: We should feel very grateful of who we are and then we get to look at nice watches every day.
Dominic Rains: Yeah, man. Are you guys, where is everything constructed?
Chaz: Everything is constructed in Switzerland. Not all components, all precision parts are made in Switzerland, all non-precision parts we make in the far East i.e. China. Then we bring them into Switzerland to do the finishing. Obviously, all the movements are completely made in Switzerland. All our automatic watches are made completely in Switzerland. Some of our Quartz's models, some of the components are made in China and then they're finished off in Switzerland.
Chaz: We have two factories that we work with. We work with one in a small town called La Chaux-de-Fonds. It's a teeny, little town. That's what's great about Switzerland is that you could just drive through the forest and you end up in this little town and population is like 200 and probably a hundred of those people actually work at the factory, do you know what I mean?
Dominic Rains: Right.
Chaz: The Swiss are unique, they are basically Germans without the beer. The Germans without the sauerkraut.
Dominic Rains: I haven't been to Switzerland but I've always wanted to go, man. I hear it's beautiful.
Chaz: Oh, my God it's one of the most beautiful countries I've ever been to.
Dominic Rains: And you get to make trips out there quite often?
Chaz: Recently we have not only because they have heavy restrictions and they're not allowed to let in outsiders. They operate right now in a bubble, each one of those factories. So, we have two factories, one factory makes our movements and we have another factory that makes our precision components and does the assembly, as well. We have great relationships with them. They work really, really close with us. And that's, what's great. We have partners that really believe in what we're doing. That’s really important to have that. People think that you could just come up with a design and ask someone to make it for you but there's a lot that goes into it.
Chaz: A watch consists, I'm not talking about the automatic watches but just the regular watch, consists of probably 60 different parts: like screws, gaskets, crystals. A lot of times we have relationships with these different suppliers that supply us all that stuff. It’s important to know exactly where to go and where to get it. I got lucky; I'll be honest. Life has a lot of luck to it and when I got that early job working for that little brand they gave me the opportunity to go to Switzerland and work on production.
Chaz: I lived in Switzerland for six months and a lot of those relationships that I had developed back in the late '90s, I utilize them today, 20 something years later, which is pretty crazy. Not all the same people but a lot of the people. Their sons are running these factories now and I'm working with them. I was a young kid when I started this. So it's fascinating. I'll be honest with you, it's really, really fascinating and I love it every single day.
Chaz: I also love the marketing side of it. I love the connection. People that wear watches, they're not just looking to buy a product, they're looking to develop connections with people that build the products and have relationships with them. A lot of our brand work, besides building beautiful watches is also developing strong connections with people that wear our products every day. We call it our fan experience. That permeates everything that we do. We don't do a lot of company emails. I would say 90% of our emails come from either me or Esti or a team member, a person that they can actually call and pick up the phone and talk to if they have a question about something.
Chaz: We're looking for that personal approach, especially now, when they don't have access to go to the brick and mortar stores and have that one-on-one connection. I don't know, maybe I'm old school, maybe the new generation doesn't need that but I still like talking to people, I still love having that human connection with people. And I feel with our products, I think they like that they want to have that one-on-one connection with the products that they buy.
Dominic Rains: Listen, it all comes back to that at the end, you know it and I know it. Even the new generations who think they don't need it, eventually they'll realize you can't get by without connecting with others. We depend on others, we live in an interdependent world, we are where we are because of the kindness of others. People bring us our food, people grow our food, people provide us everything we need-
Chaz: So true.
Dominic Rains: To be fully functional. We can't do it without each other. To take away that layer where we have a direct communication with someone, there's only so much that lasts before a person goes, "I'm now realizing this, but this is not healthy way to live, I need to communicate with someone directly."
Chaz: I do worry about the younger generation, I hope what you're saying is correct that they'll come around but I think a lot of them are so into their devices and they're busy, they're missing that. Listen, I don't think we should go back to the encyclopedia, those were the true salespeople, those were the guys with real communications skills, they really had good human skills, but I mean-
Dominic Rains: I agree with you. That's exactly right. Make eye contact, you tell somebody, thank you these days, they think, what a weirdo.
Chaz: I know. Right. But anyway, I think that the watch is my way of grounding myself to-
Dominic Rains: Yeah.
Chaz: Some of the simplest and most beautiful things in life.
Dominic Rains: Yeah, and I appreciate that so much.
Image credits: Reel Chicago
Chaz: And I love that you reached out to us. it's just crazy because if you interact with people that have reached out to us or I've reached out to people that I thought would be a good fit with the brand and understanding and profiling them and we're not looking for the regular run on the mill style, the endorsement or something like that but we're looking for people that want to work with us and develop a relationship more than just writing a cheque for an endorsement or just, "Oh, send me a watch." Someone that really believes in what we're doing.
Dominic Rains: No, completely man. And it's so wonderful to hear you say that, to know that all of a sudden the way in which I'm telling you was, how do you remember when you saw something? I remember how I saw your watch and I found interest and told Chris, this is it. I don't care about anything else. This is the one. Whatever this is, we need to go after this company. And I just remember for days, weeks, I would have your website on my laptop. Just deep appreciation for what it is that you and Esti have done Chaz, you guys really put something beautiful together and to-
Chaz: Thank you so much.
Dominic Rains: Further, getting to know the philosophy behind it and how this whole thing came about. It just makes it that much more exciting to wear it and then obviously for the show as well and I kid you not, I find myself trying to show it during the show. Okay.
Chaz: I love it.
Dominic Rains: I'll put my hand over my chin, see if I can get a little shout out to you guys, I've even had some other ideas.
Chaz: Look overly awkward and where you're-
Dominic Rains: No, I'll always find something natural but it's awesome to have that. What's great is our uniform, my uniform specifically as a surgeon, it has to be all black. So, it just blends in so beautifully and I just love that extra pop of the orange that comes off it, it's really nice, it really just blends in beautifully. And I've heard so many people have commented on it and expressed how much they've liked it. So, I've even had somebody on social media, "Hey, where's that watch from? What watch are you-"
Chaz: Yeah. I love that. You do a lot of social media? Are you big into it or you're?
Dominic Rains: Funny that you asked that. I'm not, and I just literally spoke to a company that will take care of all of your social media needs. I feel we're the same in the sense that, we might've been the generation that just passed the whole social media, people on their phone constantly needing to post, I try to, don't get me wrong, I'm not above it, don't get me wrong, I would like to-
Chaz: It’s just not natural.
Dominic Rains: It's just not natural for me and as much as I've tried, I'll post a picture of myself, you narcissistic prick? And I'll take it off. I have such a hard time doing it. So knowing that maybe there's somebody else's-
Chaz: That's so funny.
Dominic Rains: Who's going look, this is part of your business, this is something that you should try to engage in, then I can go, okay, I get it and I'm so grateful for the many people who have been supporters and I'm privileged enough to call fans. I've got so much going on in my personal world, it's very hard for me, as you know, it really sucks up a lot of your time and energy.
Chaz: It does. And it's not just the time and energy, it's the mindset also, I'm telling you. You should actually consider yourself lucky, you cannot imagine, I'm selling a hang out with people and actually I do it myself sometimes and it's disgusting, you're hitting refresh on your phone, you're just-
Dominic Rains: I totally hear you on that, I'm not separate from that, I'm guilty as charged, man. Totally get it.
Chaz: Honestly, you can consider yourself lucky, just have someone else do it, so you don't have to worry about it.
Dominic Rains: That's what I'm thinking, man. That's exactly what I'm thinking. Totally man, yeah.
Chaz: You got to come to Miami, man. I'd love to meet you-
Dominic Rains: Chaz, I would love that.
Chaz: But how is the shooting happening? Are you still in production? How's everything happening?
Dominic Rains: Yeah. So, usually because we're a network series, let's just say pre-pandemic, you're looking at anywhere from 22 to 24 episodes, right? So, before you would shoot an episode every eight working days. Okay? Now because of the pandemic and quarantining and everything, the way everything's happened obviously the landscape changed. So, we were out for a long time. The first day of shooting for us was September 22nd, where we had to come back at the beginning of September because we need to quarantine and make sure that everyone was COVID-free before going in on September 22nd. And they had their fingers crossed, they've had their fingers crossed to make it a 16 episode season. So, we are now, knock on wood, filming the 10th episode and we've gone from doing eight days an episode to nine days. We started at 10 days because they really wanted to make sure they monitored everything that we were working 10 days, because we do eight days, 12 hours a day. Then it went from 10 days, 10 hours a day, now it's nine days, 11 hours a day.
Chaz: Well, they work in a bubble, how's this going down?
Dominic Rains: You can say, it's a bubble in the sense that, every day, everyone who arrives, the first thing they do is they have a separate stage set up that is the testing facility. We're now almost five weeks in without any cases, which is incredible.
Chaz: It’s amazing. That's actually fascinating.
Dominic Rains: To make it possible for us to work and for these episodes to get filmed, the attention to detail, you got to hand it to these guys-
Chaz: Why not just give everybody the vaccine and see it later? Apparently with 38 million people got the vaccine, I don't know who to blame for that.
Dominic Rains: So far 38?
Chaz: Yeah. That's not a lot.
Dominic Rains: That's not a lot at all. Obviously NBC, Universal, Comcast has a lot of money. And so, they're willing to shell out that money to make sure that this show stays on the air and that we keep going-
Chaz: Well, they need content right now because everybody's home watching TV and they're-
Dominic Rains: Completely, but then it makes you think of so many people who are the frontline workers who weren't being tested, right? These are people who were going to work, putting their lives on the line and there's a part of it that makes you just go, you pull your hair out because you go, man, I'm just trying to act like one of these people, I have to look at safety in and around me and these guys are putting themselves on the line day in and day out-
Chaz: It's really crazy.
Dominic Rains: And they're not getting the proper PPE or they weren't getting the proper PPE, things have slowly shifted but they weren't getting the proper PPE and on the top of that, they weren't always being tested. So, they could end up with it and all of a sudden, boom, it's not only that they go down, they take a bunch of people down with them.
Chaz: And the problem is that there's no end in sight. I don't know if you remember the 15 days to stop the spread?
Dominic Rains: Yeah.
Chaz: Those 15 days were a year ago. I want to know what the heck's going on?
Dominic Rains: Yes.
Chaz: It's really, really sad. I mean we're an online brand, we did okay in the sense that people were buying online a lot more. We saw a slight uptake, in fact, from a lot of people going out and buying stuff online because if you can't go out and can't go to a restaurant and you have your certain things that you like doing, whether it's traveling or watches or whatever it is. So, you're limited and if you're blessed to still have an income, then you're going to want to buy something, you're going to want to do something. So, that's what people have been doing online. But-
Dominic Rains: Yeah. Totally.
Chaz: I'm looking forward to this thing being over so we can get back to our regular lives or somewhat our regular lives, I'm sure there's some good that's going to come out of it-
Dominic Rains: At home meetings.
Chaz: At home meetings.
Dominic Rains: Human to human connection, I hear you.
Chaz: Yeah. I'm a big proponent of looking people in the eye and talking to them and that we were going to build a little area where people can come in and just hang out, drink beers and just chill and they don't have to buy a watch, just come chill out, I'll make you a coffee.
Dominic Rains: Love that. Love that.
Chaz: Just come hang out.
Dominic Rains: Yeah, completely. And I really truly look forward to coming and visiting you guys, I'm stoked about that, it's going to be a great reason to come down to Miami, let's do something fun.
Chaz: Yeah. And Miami is not a bad place to be shooting.
Dominic Rains: You are not kidding, man. I'm totally down for it. I would absolutely love that. Truly would, man and we'll definitely do something with Esti. I would love that, man. Absolutely, she would love it too. We will make it happen, absolutely, man. I can't tell you how lovely this has been Chaz-
Dominic Rains: Such a pleasure to kick back and move away from work and just connect with you and talk about how your incredible company, the things that you and Esti are doing and really to get-
Chaz: Thank you.
Dominic Rains: A better-
Chaz: And I'm glad you mentioned Esti, because honestly I couldn't have done this without her and the whole team and I have a wonderful, wonderful team, today's her birthday actually. And-
Dominic Rains: Oh, my God give her my best. Happy birthday-
Chaz: I will. And we did a brunch today in the office and for us we're Jewish and we like to do blessings for our birthdays, give everybody blessings because we feel we have a good spirit on the day of our birth. So, she was giving everybody blessings and it's just each person that works here, it's family. And so it's, we're the family and that the people that buy our watches are our extended family and the people that work with us are part of our family. So, we consider everybody family and we love it. That's true joy in everything that we do every day.
Dominic Rains: That is so much love, man, that is so much love and that is what all companies should be built on that philosophy, that idea, that's everlasting.
Chaz: Absolutely. And people feel it. People feel it. You cannot fake this stuff. Everybody, in other words, the person that does most of our, what we call our fan experience, he loves being here, he loves talking to people, he truly does. And that's the spirit, that's what you need, that's what you want. It's almost like we're dating the people that buy our watches.
Dominic Rains: I love that Chaz. I absolutely love that. I love the philosophy in it and honestly, it makes it that much more exciting to wear your watch and to know what's behind it, what really stands behind it. Yeah, man, there’s Aso much passion and this is what it's about when we're-
Dominic Rains: Talk about-
Chaz: Relationships and passion.
Dominic Rains: Relationships and passion. The philosophy that you guys got, I mean it's all hard, man. It's all hard and I can't tell you how thrilled I am to be a very small part of it on the outskirts of it and to watch it and I look forward to seeing you and Esti and the team continue to grow and really bring that level of truth to so many out there man, and anything I can do on my end, don't hesitate to let me know.
Chaz: Thanks. And thanks for being part of the family, really appreciate it. Great talking man.
Dominic Rains: That means a lot, man. I appreciate that. Yeah, absolutely Chaz, such a pleasure, man. Look forward to staying in touch and I'll talk to you soon-
Dominic Rains: Happy birthday to Esti.
Chaz: I'll tell her and stay warm, man. Don't get stuck in the snow.
Dominic Rains: I won't man. I'll try not to. I'll have your watch that at least will stick.
Chaz: That's it. It'll keep you warm.
Dominic Rains: For sure. Okay, brother.
Dominic Rains: Talk soon.
Dominic Rains: Chao. Bye.
Chaz: Thanks for listening. And if you're into unique watches that your buddies don't have, please visit us at livwatches.com. That's L-I-V-W-A-T-C-H-E-S.com for a full line of amazing Swiss watches. See you on the next episode.