Columbia alumnus sells innovative watches

By Tessa Brubaker, Campus Reporter

Mark Para, a 2012 design alumnus, created his own watch company with his wife and has the products for sale on his website. The watches should be shipped to customers and collectors by March 2018.

Mark Para started collecting vintage watches at age 12 during a visit to Europe to see family and has had an interest in them ever since. He said he was always fascinated with the movements and inner workings of the watches he’s collected over the years.

Now Mark Para, a 2012 design alumnus, is raising money via Kickstarter to fund his watch company Carpathia Watch Co., which he created with his wife, Helena Para.

When he decided to create his own line of watches, Mark Para said he looked at watch startups on Kickstarter and saw very little creativity, which inspired him to try to create something new and unique, like having them represent old-fashioned watch designs with a modern update.

So far they have raised more than $11,000 of their $65,000 goal and have four designs for sale on

“Everybody else is doing this, but they’re not doing it the way I envisioned it, so I ventured out to do that myself and designed my own watch,” Mark Para said. “[I used] inspiration from other vintage watches that I acquired over the years.”

About two and a half years ago, Mark started creating prototypes and searching for manufacturers, Helena Para said. His passion for watches inspired her own interest in them as well, and with his hard work and dedication, they were able to perfect their designs and launch the Kickstarter campaign, she added.

“I love that we’re two regular people that made this thing happen,” Helena Para said. “We’re not some millionaires or company throwing money at a new venture that’s going to make us a ton, it’s really a passion project.”

Mark Para said their products are entry-level luxury watches with the look of a modern watch design but with the elements and quality of a vintage watch. The logo has a stork bird and the name of the company also refers to the Caparthian mountains in Poland.

Rob Funderburk, creative industry liaison in the Career Center, said he remembers Mark Para as someone who was extremely dedicated in his design studies when he was a student. Funderburk held several meetings with Para to assist him with his career path.

“I’m not surprised at all to see him become an entrepreneur and to go so far as to source manufacturers and find ways to get his design work implemented and become real,” Funderburk said.

Helena Para said their goal is to keep the company between the two of them so it remains special. They plan to release new editions of the watches every few years if they become successful.

Mark Para said he hopes these watches’ timeless, classic design passes down through families.

“I’m just proud that I was able to bring my vision to life,” Mark Para said. “It’s a lot of hard work and dedication, and you’re not getting paid for it, so it’s rewarding when you finally have the product at hand.”

Update Nov. 1, 2017, 2:37 p.m.: A previous version of this story incorrectly referred to the bird on the logo as a canary when it is a stork bird. The Chronicle regrets this error.