It was a very happy time for Michael DiMartini in the beginning of 2012. His wife Theresa had just given birth their first child, Luca.
But DiMartini had a nagging feeling in his gut. As an executive at a large real estate development firm, he made a good living, but his true love was watches, particularly Rolex watches.
“I was thinking: Am I am going to be happy just as a cog in a company? Or am I going to risk it all to do something I really love,” said DiMartini in a phone interview from St. Louis.
That was the beginning of Everest Horology, a maker of aftermarket rubber and leather straps for Rolex watches.
Growing up, DiMartini had always admired his father’s two-tone Datejust. While his father was in medical school in Italy, young Michael began to really fall in love with the Rolex mystique.
“Everyone in Italy has a Rolex,” he recalled. “I saw all these beautiful people with beautiful watches, so my love for Rolex watches grew deeper.”
His affinity for the Rolex esthetic led him to want to develop an aftermarket strap for Rolex sport watches. With a well-funded company already on the market, Rubber B, DiMartini knew he had to offer something different and what he believed is a better product, namely in the area of comfort.
But the road to what is now Everest Horology, an online shop with partner retailers in various parts of the United States, was not so easy.
DiMartini’s first prototype was “a piece of crap that I wouldn’t sell for $10 on eBay,” he recalled. Having sunk his first round of investment capital with a local company, he felt tremendous despair in his first attempt to chase his dream.
Desperate to support his family somehow, DiMartini took a job selling furniture. The owner of the furniture store encouraged him to raise funds on Kickstarter. That idea clicked and soon DiMartini reconnected with an old friend, David Barnes (who is now Everest’s co-founder), who provided some seed money and business development skills for attempt number two.
DiMartini was able to raise $15,000 on Kickstarter to get his venture off the ground. But in the first year sales were slow and he resorted to hand finishing each strap himself in order to stay afloat.
“After the first year, the products did start to catch on,” he said. “By early 2013 people were realizing that we had something really nice to offer. I couldn’t believe it. Everything was coming together.”
DiMartini credits social media, Facebook in particular, for helping him spread the word about Everest, which currently offers aftermarket rubber straps and leather bands that are made to fit (with the high tolerances) the original Rolex watch case. A Swiss manufacturer provides the vulcanized rubber straps.
One of the hallmarks of the Everest brand is the proprietary endlinks that their leather straps attach to the watch with, eliminating the gap with a straight end leather strap in what the company dubs its strap system. DiMartini said the company is working on curved end leather strap, for a simpler look that many customers have been requesting.
With its rubber straps, customers can use their original Rolex clasp with Oyster bracelet style links, giving a hybrid OEM look combined with the sporty look and feel of a real rubber strap. Users can adjust the size of their Everest rubber straps by adding or removing links and finishing with the micro-adjust on the clasp.
Prices for Everest straps range from just under $200 to $350 for Louisiana alligator leather bands.
“Just in the last five years people have really began embracing wearing something other than the original bracelet on their Rolexes,” said DiMartini. “Some vintage models have original bracelets that are simply falling apart and there’s no old stock available. NATOs have caught on big time with Rolexes, so the idea that you don’t have to just wear the stock bracelet is huge for us.”
For more information, visit www.everestbands.com