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How Jarod and Joses Ng started a million-dollar watch business Watch Capital in school

These brothers run a thriving watch business that they started before they were even out of school – and this is just the beginning.

Studying for a law degree is a challenging endeavour. Brothers Jarod (left in cover picture) and Joses Ng, 24 and 22 respectively, did so while building a multimillion-dollar business. Last September, the fresh-faced duo started Watch Capital, which buys and sells luxury timepieces.

When Covid-19 saw lessons moved online last year, the brothers – both undergraduates at Durham University in the UK – returned to Singapore. Instead of lamenting the fact that they were missing out on their overseas educational experience, they saw it as the perfect opportunity to get serious about a business Jarod had started as “a hobby” in late 2017.

The more soft-spoken of the two, Joses shares: “We were considering whether to launch Watch Capital and open our showroom after completing university. Because we were able to study and take our exams online, we took a leap of faith and killed two birds with one stone.” While Jarod graduated this year, Joses still has another year to go.

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In February, they opened their first retail space at 111 Somerset. Since the opening of the physical shop, its founders say that Watch Capital has sold around $15 million worth of watches, with a profit of more than $1 million. Most of their pieces are by Rolex, Patek Philippe and Audemars Piguet – the top three performing brands on a thriving secondary market.

A McKinsey forecast estimates that the pre-owned market could be worth up to US$32 billion (S$43.4 billion) by 2025. Watches are authenticated by the brothers themselves, or by watch technicians who have worked with major brands.

Not bad for two young guys who used to buy and sell watches on platforms such as Carousell. Sometimes they met bewildered buyers at the car park. Jarod chuckles, “It wasn’t easy. We had people ask, ‘Why am I dealing in a car park?’ in the beginning.”

As children, they developed an interest in horology due to their dad, an oil man turned private investor, who is also a watch enthusiast. The senior Ng was initially sceptical about watches as investments, but came around when he saw the prices that certain watches could command on the secondary market.

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Jarod reveals candidly, “This is a capital-intensive business. When I first started, I used my money. But when we started buying higher-value watches, we had to ask our dad if he wanted to invest. He said sure, as long as you can give me good interest. We’ve been consistently giving him 10 per cent interest. Our mum has also invested in us. They’ve been supportive.”

And this is just the beginning. The brothers will begin pitching their business to investors next year. In addition, they have established a holding company to diversify into areas such as the medical industry and real estate. Says Jarod, “We’re risk-takers, and if something fails, it fails. We believe that if we have faith in what we’re doing, we’ll succeed.”