Any avid collector or watch enthusiast will tell you the same thing – a watch is not something you slap on your wrist for mere bragging rights. When considering a timepiece, it has to be technically interesting, simple yet innovative with hidden complications, and not so busy that it doesn’t serve its main function as a watch.

With that in mind, several local hardcore watch connoisseurs have branched out with their own brands to fill up gaps in the watch industry. “As a collector, you always want something different but you realise that in recent years, what you want doesn’t really exist anymore,” shares Ming Thein from Ming Watches.

But let’s be honest: local watchmakers may not be something that you’d consider investing your money in especially with many mainstream watch brands out there offering an ‘internationally certified’ quality. The perception remains – international names triumph over local ones.

This notion is about to change with the recent rise of local watchmaking brands that are making waves internationally. Unbeknownst to many, these brands have been considered key players in the industry with the latest being Nayan, a Sabah-based watch brand that recently made a name for itself when Flash actor Grand Gustin sported one of its timepieces at the Teen Choice Awards in Los Angeles last year. That very model was sold out within hours.

If you’re looking to upgrade from a run-of-the-mill entry-level timepiece but not quite ready to splurge on a diamond-encrusted watch, consider a local luxury watch brand. The six local Malaysian watchmaking brands offer impeccable designs that are chic and timeless, reinforced with Swiss mechanical features, parallel flexibility and quality. Get your watch game up with something local for a change especially with one that rotates counterclockwise.

1
Nayan Co.

Founded in November 2017 in Sabah by co-founders Fahad Nasir and Fadzyinie Dullie, the brand aims to give customers classic and minimalistic watches that are affordable. The Flash actor Grand Gustin made the brand an overnight star when he wore one of its watches at the Teen Choice Awards 2018 in LA. Nayan focuses on minimalistic bezel designs with the simplest duotone faces that come in a set of four different colour varieties. (Credit: Nayan Co.)

2
Ming Watches

When it was first launched in 2017, Ming Watches sold out all 300 pieces in a matter of hours. The brand, established by six watch collectors and enthusiasts, aims to fill the gap between an entry-level piece and a super-luxurious watch – targeting those who aren’t quite ready to spend a silly amount of money on a timepiece. Each timepiece is created with a strong character; deep-coloured faces, sleek bezels and best of all, they are all Swiss-made. (Credit: Ming Watches)

3
Nocturne Watch

Nocturne is a homegrown brand that recently shot to fame through its fashion collaborations with local designers like Kit Woo and Cassey Gan. The brand aims to create timeless watches that are classic yet contemporary with an edge. Expect finest craftsmanship powered by the Swiss Ronda Movement, with impressive features including scratch resistant Sapphire Crystal Glass, 316L surgical grade stainless steel for its casing, and genuine Italian calf leather, tweed and steel mesh for the straps. The ‘quick release’ interchangeable straps also allow flexibility of switching styles for different occasions. Its small face designs are truly suitable for those who are looking for a simple timepiece that crosses both work and play. (Credit: Nocturne Watch)

4
Masa Horlogerie Kuala Lumpur

Masa Horlogerie is one of its kind; it is the only Malaysian watchmaking company that integrates and highlights Malaysia’s cultural elements into its collection of timepieces — branded by is trademark ‘Horologi Warisan’ or ‘Heritage Horlogerie’. Expect traditional motifs like geometric patterns, hibiscus and royal emblems engraved intricately on its casings. Its debut collection flaunts the beautiful neo-traditional rendition of the ‘Songket Bunga Pecah Lapan’, a stunning motif that represents a new beginning, purity and harmony. (Credit: Masa Horlogerie)

5
Malaya

The KL-based brand is established in 2015, focusing on everyday essentials (from leather bags to watches) that draw inspiration from military functionality and industrial minimalism. Malaya’s watches are also customisable (like the Apple watch) and you’re able to choose the straps from a range of colours and materials according to your preference. (Credit: Malaya Co.)

6
Mem Watches

Since 2014, Mem Watches has been designing minimalist and chic watches that illustrate the narrative of everyday life within the Malaysian community. But what is most unique about the timepieces is the fact that it rotates counterclockwise. Sounds bizarre? The founders of the brand believe in creating a positive difference when we turn things around – something that also makes a good conversational piece on your wrist. (Credit: Mem Watches)

Martin Teo
Deputy Editor
Martin loves traveling the world to see ancient ruins and classical architecture. He enjoys the culinary experience of various cities but (still) refuses to eat anything insect-like. On a daily basis, he finds time hitting the gym to compensate for the amount of food he needs to eat just to write an article.