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Local watch brands to take note of

Singapore’s entrepreneurial spirit lives strong in its home-grown timepiece industry.

Switzerland is as synonymous with watches as France is with haute couture. But is a watch any less of a wrist-taker if it doesn’t come with the “Swiss Made” label? Not if these home-bred watch brands have anything to say about it. Offering standout watches that drip with attitude and aesthetical distinction at accessible price points, it’s no wonder these fiercely independent Singapore brands are carving out a share of the market valued at over $33 billion (according to a 2019 report on Swiss watch exports alone by the Federation of Swiss Watch Industry FH).

(Related: Watch spread: minimalist timepieces)

  • Zelos-Black-Sand-and-Mete-Moodshot

    Zelos

    Take Zelos, for instance, which specialises in mechanical bronze diving watches. Launched by Elshan Tang in 2014, the brand found its start on Kickstarter with immense support, tripling its initial goal of US$30,000 by the end of its run. Today, it produces about 5,000 timepieces annually, with prices starting around $360 for a diving watch to $13,500 for a Swiss Tourbillon (named The Mirage, the collection sold out within 20 minutes of its launch).

    The brand also offers its fans Valjoux movements, carbon fibre cases and meteorite dials—elements that luxury brands are known to employ. “I used to trade luxury watches through my university days, and enjoyed being exposed to the multitude of brands that I would otherwise have been unable to afford. However, I realised that watch designs are rarely interesting or unique at the entry or mid-price ranges,” says Tang. “I was a fan of bronze watches back then and there weren’t many options, so that was my first design to be made and launched.”

    Zelos sold close to 1,000 of its steel Swordfish 40mm watch (about $370) within eight hours of its launch.

#SupportLocal

Known to the world as the tiny country that’s as small as the dot that marks it on global maps, it may seem surprising that this nation has birthed a plethora of watch brands with designs that range from sparse minimalism to outré maximalism. Less surprising when viewed in context of the same 2019 Federation of Swiss Watch Industry FH report: Singapore ranked sixth on the world distribution of Swiss watch exports, with close to $2 billion to its name.

The enthusiasm for timepieces on these shores is conspicuous—all the better for watch enthusiasts looking for a wrist-taker with a difference. So go ahead and #supportlocal. There’s arguably no better way to show yourself as a true aficionado who’s in the know.

(Related: Richard Mille’s latest is still light and tough – and in a new material)

This article was originally published in Harper’s Bazaar Singapore

(Related: A. Lange & Sohne releases the 2020 Lange 1 Time Zone)