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Perth watch partners go viral
Haigh & Hastings' Matthew Sears. Picture: Bill Hatto/The West Australian

A Perth-based venture is behind an ambitious bid to develop an Australian watch brand.

The first of Haigh & Hastings' diver-style timepieces will be available online in January at a likely price of about $575.

The firm is a partnership between consultant and former BHP Billiton executive Simon Haigh, who describes himself as "the commercial guy" and American expatriate Matthew Sears, "the ideas and branding guy".

Given the snobbery that sometimes counts against non-Swiss watches, Mr Haigh is reluctant to disclose too much about the new pieces but says they feature "a mix of European and Asian components with Japanese movements" and are assembled by an Asian company behind some of the region's better-known premium watches. They had also been "independently checked and verified by a highly regarded WA-based watchmaker".

"It's a good quality watch, it's a tough watch and it's proudly Australian . . . with a uniquely Australian flair," Mr Haigh says. "We really want this to be identified with Perth."

The watches have screw-down crowns and case backs and are water resistant to 1000 feet.

They come with a rubber strap, with a choice of colours - a concession to fashion trends.

Mr Haigh says the M2 Redhead, the first of four watch models to be launched at higher price points in 2014, has already generated interest here and overseas.

Initial sales will be via Haigh & Hastings' website but it may also sell through airport gift shops and forge partnerships with sporting clubs and personalities.

Its promotion includes viral marketing, with the aim of creating a buzz around its products, particularly on internet forums.

Mr Haigh concedes it will be tough breaking into a desperately competitive market for watches but says it is an opportunity to capitalise on a gap in the market for Australian-branded pieces and tap continuing overseas interest in Australia.

"Australians don't appreciate how the world looks out at it. There's a real positive feel about Australia and an interest in everything to do with Australia."