Cuba Street’s Timeless Gem – FiveFortyFive
Hidden up some stairs on Wellington’s most vibrant street lies FiveFortyFive – Malcolm Brow and Ryan McKenzie’s unique take on a watch boutique. The store feels more like a home than just a watch shop, with fine art decorating the walls and a cosy ambience, unlike any regular jeweller. Sitting down and talking to the pair was even more confirmation that this is no regular watch shop – the business truly connects to its customers and caters to just about anybody, with a love for watches at its core.
Ryan McKenzie (left) and Malcolm Brow (right) in their watch store FiveFortyFive on Cuba Street
FiveFortyFive was born out of an idea to make watches accessible to everyone, and to minimise the risk that comes with purchasing a watch online. The store is extremely welcoming and the staff both knowledgeable and friendly, providing a comfortable space to try on watches at one’s own leisure. Combining new, pre-owned and vintage watches sets FiveFortyFive apart from other watch stores, which usually stick to one or the other. Having such a selection means that there truly is something for everyone. Brow, sitting comfortably in one of the store’s cushy yet elegant armchairs, said;
“We quite like to cater for a cross-section of people – our demographic is huge, from a student who can’t afford much more than a hundred dollar watch which we have, to someone who can afford a hundred thousand dollar watch which we also have.”
The two men have a suave air about them, and you can tell from one conversation that they not only know their watches, but they care about their customers too. “I don’t want someone to come in here and not be able to find something that they want.” Sticking to the higher-end watches is obviously where the big bucks lie, however this was not the motivation for FiveFortyFive; “that’s not really the point of this business, it’s more about giving anybody the opportunity to buy a really cool watch.”
Aside from the Cuba Street store, FiveFortyFive operates online as well with its boutique website. Not only does this allow them to sell to the rest of New Zealand, but it also allows them to operate on an international scale, with regular sales to both Australia and America. The combination of both online and in-store services means that customers can see a watch they like online, and then travel to Cuba Street to try it on and make sure it’s right before purchasing. McKenzie says they see a lot of this over long weekends, with people often flying into Wellington specifically for this purpose; “It seems like they feel a connection because we’ve got the website.”
FiveFortyFive slots perfectly into the bustling, slightly quirky Cuba Street, sitting amongst second-hand clothing stores, vintage shops, record stores and the many incredible eateries. “It’s less suit-y I suppose than the CBD which we quite like […] it’s just a fun street to work on.” The New Zealand and Australian art on the walls isn’t the only thing in this store that will entice you for a second glance. Amongst the impressive display of elegant cufflinks and necklaces is a collection of fine Japanese knives, a lot of them hand forged and of incredible quality. This collection is just another thing about FiveFortyFive that makes them unique – Brow said “you’d be hard pressed to find another watch shop that sells Japanese knives.” According to McKenzie, “fountain pens as a gift have fallen a little bit out of favour.”
FiveFortyFive is truly a credit to Malcolm and Ryan’s unique thinking and business sense, as well as the evident care they have for both watches and their customers. Whether you’re looking to spend large on a brand new Rolex or try out a pre-loved Seiko, FiveFortyFive is bound to have something for you, and you’ll find yourself completely immersed in the artistic yet elegant environment along the way.
Pictured below are some of FiveFortyFive’s watches, ranging in price from $445.00
to $104,800.00. Can you guess which order these rank in price?