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On June 13th, the Toronto Raptors won the NBA Championship for the first time in Franchise history. The energy in the city (and the country) was INSANE. The night of game 6, I was downtown at Toronto's union station about to board a VIA Rail to Montreal for the weekend to visit my girlfriend. I could feel the excitement brewing. Everyone was scrambling to head to a pub or friends to catch the game. I definitely had a little FOMO leaving the city that very day but was also really excited to be in Montreal.
I ended up streaming the game from my phone, and like most passengers, had trouble catching a strong signal. Peering up at times to get a glance at other passenger screens several rows ahead and sharing mine to rows behind. All the passengers in the train car that wanted to see the game would screen share and surprisingly able to watch the majority of the game.
Once the train arrived in Montreal, the Raptors fans moved quickly to their destinations - likely the nearest T.V. I was streaming the 4th quarter, running south on Rue Mansfield towards Notre Dame in Griffintown. A few strangers and fellow Raptors fans joined my little stream as we're waiting for a light to pass. It was an epic moment seeing how many people downtown Montreal was excited to watch a Toronto team play for it all.
I end up getting to my girlfriend's condo with 7 minutes left in the 4th quarter, and the rest is history.
Side note - Never have I or will we ever see so many people supporting a Toronto sports team in Montreal. It was insane.
Shortly after the championship parade, we got a message from a loyal supporter from our community - shout out to Dee :)
She was very persuasive in her pitch and motivated us enough to consider making a custom raptors themed watch to capture the moment that would get fans excited.
Our goal with the custom watch was not to create it for sale but to get it to a notable member connected to the Raptors organization. We didn't know who exactly though...we tossed around names of players, management, or notable media and ambassadors.
We started off with a few hand sketches using the retro raptors colors and also a few more modern schemes. The community ended up going with the more current color scheme, and they also preferred the silver movement over gold.
The decision to go silver movement was controversial. We got several DM's from die-hard Raptors Superfans (no not Nav Bhatia) as they felt the watch movement should have been gold since we won the LARRY OB.
In hindsight, we can respect that and understand their frustration. It was a tough decision. When we ask our community for feedback, we generally go with the majority. If we didn't, the collective would feel it's a waste of time to give input since we'd ignore it. We're very critical as to when we ask for feedback, it's usually at points where we really need it.
The watch case was our signature hybrid of wood and resin. We used natural box elder burl and dyed it purple during the stabilization process. We then cast the burl with clear, white, and red resin swirls to incorporate all the current Raptors colors. As for the custom watch straps, we made an executive call and ordered basketball skin leather from Nick Horween.
Check out the process video here:
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We made our 160th build with the help of ALL OF YOU! Thanks to everyone who voted and helped us make key design decisions along the way! We couldn't be happier with the outcome! . Using real basketball leather from @horweenleather for the watch strap was a must! . The embroidery on the inside notes the date of the championship and says "Champions" . We went with the classic purple and red theme and tossed in some white streaks to incorporate some of the newer tones . Hope all the raptors fans out there can appreciate this one! . #Toronto #Torontoraptors #RTZ #LetsGoRaptors #The6ix #DiscoverUnder20K #Discoverunder100k #discoverunderlOk #NavBhatia #Superfan #RaptorsSuperFan #moneyinthrgrave #tsn #SportsNet #NBAFinals #scotiabankarena #resinWatch #SheLovesTheRaptors #Woodworking #wethenorth #ResinArt #Resinartists #Watchesofinata #watchoftheday #Wristgame #horween #Nickhorween #Customade #menswatchstyle @raptorsfastbreak @raptorsfanTV @shelovestheraptors . Music Credit: Triple Seven - Money in the Grave (Drake Remix) @tripletheseven @fckseven
Making the watch was the EASY part, getting it to someone noteworthy tied to the organization proved harder than we thought!
We are after all just "two dudes in a basement" with a professional front (LMFAO Jacob)
We narrowed our list down to the following four individuals:
Just because you build an interesting piece of art, it does not mean you'll get their attention. Here is a list of our failures in trying to get in touch with someone tied to the Raptors:
To say we were losing hope was an understatement.
This left good old Serge Ibaka, we just had no clue how to get in touch with him, and we knew a DM would be pointless.
For my 30th birthday, Mowgs had accompanied me on a road trip to Montreal. He had not ever visited Montreal, and it was a great time to take a quick weekend break and go do something fun. It's hard work trying to contact notable Torontonians...
On the way home, Mowgs was driving, and I got an e-mail from Square One marketing. I usually delete promotional e-mails, but this time the marketers did an excellent job and put Serge Ibaka's name into the subject line or preview copy. As he was top of mind as a problem to solve, my brain could not help but open it and read it.
To our surprise and dumbfound luck, there was an event at the Square One Food District where Chef Mafuzzy himself would be cooking for the people. I let Justin know, and we both looked at each other and said, fugit, let's do this. We bought two non-refundable tickets and said we'll figure out how to get the watch to him in person. If there is something we've learned over the years is that's we're all just human and most things are possible so go figure it out.
When you put something out there, the Universe finds a way to bring relatable things to you. As we were building the Raptors watch, I had caught up for a beer with an old co-worker and now dear friend, Shaan. I let him know what we were up to with the Raptors watch, and he happened to mention he was friends with Superfan Nav Bhatia's family friend. He said he would ask and see if he could arrange a meetup for us to gift him the watch.
After a couple of weeks of silence, Shaan messaged me and said it was not going to work out. We understood Nav is a busy guy so I thanked him for the help, and moved on to focus on how we'd lay this one up to Serge - More like a hail mary...
The day before the event at SquareOne, I received an unexpected call from Shaan. He said that he managed to get his friend to arrange a meeting with Superfan Nav Bhatia for us to present the watch but that it would be the following week!
Talk about things coming together in the 4th quarter...
This was a once in a lifetime opportunity and through a personal connection so we had to make the tough decision to pass on rolling up on Mafouzzy improv style (what a relief).
Serge - if you ever read this, just message, and we'll hook you up, but only if you come down for coffee! In our view, the impulse ticket purchase were a sunk cost. Plus, it was for a charitable cause, so it's all good.
Before meeting with Nav, it was clear that Nav had not agreed to accept the watch as a gift yet but that he would chat with us for a few minutes and hear us out. We felt a little pressured not to mess it up but felt confident when he had it in hand, saw the process video, and heard the story that there was a good chance it would resonate.
Justin and I arrived at Mississauga Hyundai and checked into meet Superfan Nav Bhatia. He's what you see in the media, a kind and high energy individual who is VERY passionate about his Toronto Raptors.
We sat down in Nav's office upstairs at the dealership and dropped the Coconut case right in front of his desk. When he picked it up, we genuinely think he was more intrigued by the coconut case over the actual watch!
For those that don't know, Nav is an engineer by trade. He shared his story on his migration to Canada and the ultimate shift in his career path. When we explained our process of designing a custom infrastructure around the Citizen automatic movement and crafting our cases all in house, he stopped us dead in speech and said,
"Wow. That's a lot of work, guys!"
He recognized that what we were doing was extremely challenging and would be an uphill battle. He just said we should just keep going as it's really the only way to know what's possible.
We then showed Nav the process video. The song was a remix to Drake's "Money in the grave," and we watched Nav enjoy the video with a smile while bobbing his head to the beat.
In total, we had a 30-minute conversation with Nav about basketball and business. We learned so much more about him and his story that we're really appreciative of the entire experience.
Nav was straightforward in that he wouldn't wear the watch as his daily but would sport it on a couple of special occasions and happily accepted the gift. Whew!!
As we were leaving Nav gave both of us a plaque titled "The Shot Heard Across Canada" with a picture of Kawhi Leonards buzzer-beater shot in Game 7 against the Philadelphia 76ers during the eastern conference semi-finals.
We ended up leaving that meeting with a lot more than just a picture with Nav and some historical memorabilia, though. We left with a better understanding of what it takes to be an entrepreneur direct from one that has done it from the ground up with extreme success.
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Grateful to have been able to get our 160th build "We The Champs" to arguably the greatest Raptors fan of ALL TIME @navbhatiasuperfan . More importantly an individual who has championed change his entire life. Nav has led by example and actively designs events to abolish prejudice not only for one culture but for all. . As we continue along this tangent Maker has led us into opportunities to meet amazing people and for this we're truly grateful. It helps us validate that we're headed in the right direction on this very unknown journey. . We're eternally grateful for every like, comment, DM and follow :) Thanks for ALL your help during the creative process of "We the Champs". We created this together. . Your friends, . Justin & Nibin . #SuperFan #NavBhatia #Raptorize #RTZ #TorontoRaptors #ShelovestheRaptors #Wethenorth #Wethechamps #Mississauga #Toronto #Rexdale #Brampton #Oakville #Burlington #MadeInCanada #customwatch #PortCredit #MLSE #entrepreneur #CanadianEntrepreneur
Thank you, Nav, for your time and for inspiring us to keep moving forward. You deserve this watch on behalf off all the fans nationwide!
P.S. - The end result of our 160th build was well-received by the r/torontoraptors sub on Reddit
To commemorate the championship we made a custom Raptors themed watch using real basketball leather for the straps. We ended getting this to Superfan Nav Bhatia a few weeks back, hope to see him wear it a little next season. Sharing this video as we hope all fans can appreciate the final product! from r/torontoraptors