Always finding a room to grow, local entrepreneur Azim Ghani translates his determination into timepieces, symbolising resilience while paying homage to a late royal.
The person behind the brand Arkitek Watches (AW) finds progress and the way forward as among the underlying reasons for the creation of the elegant watches.
Inspired by the modernisation journey of Brunei during the reign of Al-Marhum Sultan Haji Omar ‘Ali Saifuddien Sa’adul Khairi Waddien from 1950, the entrepreneur decided to name his brand ‘Arkitek’ after the late Sultan’s title, Architect of Modern Brunei.
“The Bruneian people is always progressing, and we have seen significant changes and development from the reign of Al-Marhum Sultan Haji Omar ‘Ali Saifuddien Sa’adul Khairi Waddien to our current monarch, His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam. The name Arkitek is perfect for this watch and that everyone is an architect themselves,” said the 32-year-old.
The brand started selling its first model from the Mèmoire collection in 2019 which was limited to 100 pieces. Prior to the brand debut in Brunei, the exclusive watches already had their buyers with less than 10 pieces left today.
Asked what further motivated him to design watches, he said that he wants to cater to the more affordable segment of the current watch market.
“When I already had the idea of doing watches, at that time a luxury brand by another Bruneian was already around but it is not for everyone. Before I could venture into the business, I like to study someone’s idea, the story behind it, the history of the watch… I want to make Arkitek Watches to be affordable and high quality for Bruneians,” he said.
AW is a local micro-brand designed and semi-assembled in Brunei with their movement from Japan using both quartz and automatic for the models.
The brand currently has its first series Mèmoire with each timepiece priced at $299 and it eyes to roll out a new series dubbed ‘Wawasan’ in March.
Unlike the first collection, the watches are priced at a slight premium and are only available in eight pieces.
Talking about affordability, the founder has its own target market for AW.
“Our target will be the young consumers who are the tech-savvy generation who value quality, functionality and authenticity of a brand. This generation of youth are heavily influenced by the drive to create meaningful lifestyles and they are always about the hype,” said the entrepreneur.
Although the watch focuses on the younger generation, Azim also had customers aged over 50 as well as 20-year-olds, showing that these timepieces are accessible by anyone, the goal that the entrepreneur had in mind from the start.
Moreover, what’s different about AW is that the brand does not need to do heavy marketing or publicity on social media as the founder already has his own customer base garnered over the years from previous job experiences.
Entrepreneurship in Brunei
Prior to opening AW, Azim already has some other small businesses that he does on the side, mainly out of his passion for motorbikes and helmets.
As a person who had been through several jobs and fields in the past years, the entrepreneur has built himself to be resilient and self-sufficient, like the jack of all trades.
Talking about opportunities and supports given by the government of His Majesty the Sultan in the field of entrepreneurship, he said that it gave him the drive to reach for success and to be able to do what he loves doing without fear of failing.
“Entrepreneurship comes in two phases – connection and opportunities. When you are an entrepreneur, you get to connect with all sorts of people. Some are there to help and teach and when you’re lucky enough, they are some who will give ideas on improvement,” said the entrepreneur.
He further said that for the country to progress towards economic resilience, the current and future generations must have the ability to use innovative ideas to make a difference in the community by addressing a need or creating a socially conscious business.
“You must always think outside the box and there would be no such thing as entrepreneurship without activation so with that being said, both the government and youth must work together to support each other and ensure these ideas turn into reality,” commented Azim.
He concluded: “The government and youth need to have the confidence that markets are and will remain open and fair, including during times of stress. Learn from the past and cope with the future, Insyallah.”
This article was first published on 23 February 2022 in our 2022 National Day Supplement | More stories here
THE BRUNEIAN | BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN