At the tender ages of 18 and 19, Joses and Jarod Ng started dabbling in the luxury watch industry respectively.
They eventually co-founded Watch Capital, which is now a wholly-owned subsidiary of private investment firm Pallarian Holdings.
Over the past few months since entering the retail segment of the market, Watch Capital has grown rapidly with revenue surpassing S$15 million.
In this interview, the Ng brothers shared with us how they grew the business — which was once a Carousell side hustle — into a seven-figure luxury watch business.
They became bosses in their 20s
After graduating from Raffles Institution, Jarod and Joses both pursued their studies overseas. They went to Concord College in the United Kingdom, and moved on to studying law in Durham University.
Jarod, now 24, has graduated with a Bachelor of Laws (Honours) degree from Durham University, while 22-year-old Joses is still in his final year at the law school.
Jarod now assumes the role of executive chairman and CEO of Pallarian Holdings, in which he is responsible for ensuring the growth of the company.
On the other hand, Joses is serving as the executive director and president of Pallarian Holdings, who oversees the future expansion of the company.
“It all started when we were young. Our dad would bring us along to various watch boutiques and share with us the passion he had for watches. The passion for watches was eventually passed to us,” said Joses.
The brothers pumped in S$50,000 of their savings to kickstart their own luxury watch business, with their dad investing more than S$1 million.
Founded in September 2020, Watch Capital is the culmination of a shared passion for luxury watches. It specialises in the full spectrum of buying, selling and trading of luxury timepieces, including valuation and polishing services.
Particularly, it sells “rare watches that are hard to get at retail stores.”
Watch Capital stocks a diverse range of luxury watches from over 11 different brands like Rolex, Cartier and Patek Philippe, with prices ranging from S$5,000 to S$149,000.
Going from online to offline
Watch Capital had very humble beginnings as a small-time business on Carousell back in 2018, earning a monthly average revenue of S$80,000.
Platforms such as Carousell and Facebook marketplace or groups enabled us to enter a place whereby individuals are able to conveniently connect and liaise with each other — be it to buy, sell or trade.
The early struggles on trading on these platforms are trust and credibility, as not many individuals are willing to buy such expensive goods off these platforms. Therefore, it took quite some time for our good reviews to build up on Carousell and Facebook.– Joses Ng, co-founder of Watch Capital
Another problem about dealing online is that they often encounter buyers who ‘ghosted’ on them, or buyers who failed to show up at the stipulated meet-up time and place. They also found it risky to transact watches worth large amounts of money in public.
These prompted them to go from online to offline, and set up a physical showroom. They contemplated hard on it, given the uncertainty of the Covid-19 situation, but “took a leap of faith” anyway.
They ended up opening their first showroom at 111 Somerset at Orchard Road in February 2021.
We decided to open a physical store to better serve our customers so that they would have a proper place and environment to view our watches. We also wanted to take Watch Capital to the next level by opening up a showroom so that we could grow the brand and increase our sales.
Despite launching our showroom in the middle of the pandemic, we were not as worried given our strong clientele base (and digital marketing) prior to the opening, and the increase in individuals buying luxury watches.– Joses Ng, co-founder of Watch Capital
They refused to disclose where they source their luxury watches from, but shared that they also accept buy-ins and trade-ins.
Watch Capital is now fully profitable and has generated over S$10.5 million in revenue within the first four months of the showroom’s opening.
At the six-month mark, they “managed to reach a revenue of S$15 million”, with about 70 to 80 watches sold a month.
Customers are king
Given the impact of Covid-19 on the retail industry, it emphasises the importance of having an online store. However, I still believe that retail stores are something the society is used to having today.
Customers are not only paying for the goods, but the retail experience and customer service, especially when purchasing luxury goods.– Joses Ng, co-founder of Watch Capital
He added that they place a premium on customer service, and always maintain a “non-judgmental approach” when serving customers.
Investing in a luxury watch is a risky affair, and it’s easy to get overwhelmed by the choices available, which is why Watch Capital offers personalised consultations.
Moreover, the brothers’ extensive experience as watch enthusiasts and dealers themselves have given them that extra knack for matching unique tastes with the perfect watch.
“Customer service plays a very important role in sustaining a business long term, hence professionalism and service is of utmost priority,” stressed Joses.
With such a strong customer philosophy, it’s no wonder that they have racked up a huge customer base. On Instagram alone, they have gained 13,000 followers (and counting).
Sharing future plans, he revealed that they plan to set up a head office next year and another two showrooms in the coming years to better serve their customers.
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Featured Image Credit: Millionaire Asia