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Trained as a lawyer, Royce Wee’s resume is definitely not one to scoff at.

The Singaporean has worked as the deputy public prosecutor in the Attorney-General’s Chambers, in policy roles in the Infocomm Media Development Authority, and as a director for economic regulation at the Ministry of Communications and Information.

He has since moved into the private sector, handling public policy and data governance in companies such as Alibaba Group. Currently, he’s based in Saudi Arabia, working as a department director for NEOM, a new urban area planned by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

But when he’s not busy with policy duties, Royce actually runs a business he co-founded—TENNET Watch Corporation, or TENNET for short.

From a long time ago

Royce’s love for watches begun early, when he was still in secondary school.

“I remember lazing around in the living room of my home and flipping through the pages of a glossy magazine that was left lying around,” he reminisced.

He came across a full-page coloured advertisement of the Patek Philippe Nautilus and was blown away.  “For the first time in my life, it dawned on me that watches go beyond functional tools to tell the time, to become a work of art, culture, and beauty.”  

Image Credit: TENNET Watch Corporation

In time, Royce became a watch buyer and collector. As a fan of horology, he realised how easy it was to be an “armchair critic”, pointing out purported flaws in watch designs.

Recognising that, Royce wanted to put himself to the test and come up with a watch design that meets his own design aesthetics while ensuring it stands the test of time. 

Despite having always wanted to design his own watches, the desire remained as a conversation topic with his then-girlfriend (now wife) and family members for a long time.

It took the pandemic to spur actual action. During this time, Royce began placing more value and focus on living out his dreams, taking risks, meeting new people, and trying new things.

“This can be summarised in the Latin phrase, Nolite Timere, which can be aptly translated as Be Not Afraid,” he said. “It is with this fearless, passionate, dynamic and enterprising spirit that TENNET was undertaken and born.”

Good things take time

The name “TENNET” is rather layered. First and foremost, it serves as a constant reminder of the tenets of the brand. 

“These include beautiful designs, use of best-in-class materials, employing modern manufacturing methods, delivering excellent value to customers, and providing trust and peace of mind to customers, including our lifetime warranty against manufacturing defects,” Royce said.

With a keen eye for visual appeal, he pointed out that it’s spelled with two N’s in the middle to make it more complete and proportionate. It is also a palindrome that spells the same from left to right, as well as from right to left.

Image Credit: TENNET Watch Corporation

More than that, it’s also an anagram of “TEN-TEN”. If you know watches, you’ll know 10:10 is a timing that brands set their watches to for aesthetics and clarity.

From the conceptualisation of the brand to the official launch, TENNET took around two years to come to fruition.

This period saw design tweaks, the choosing of partners and manufacturers, the commissioning of multiple prototypes, prototype refinements, to the finalisation of the production run. 

With that, the brand was finally launched in November 2023.

Designed for timelessness

TENNET watches take their design cues from more traditional and classy dress watches, but they are updated and modernised to meet the needs of today’s watch buyers and wearers.

“Their designs are timeless and classic, and at the same time, they are built using modern materials and techniques to be reliable and robust, including water resistance of a mighty 200 metres,” Royce elaborated. For context, 200 metres is equivalent to the average depth that diving watches are made for.

Image Credit: TENNET Watch Corporation

The watches are designed by himself in Singapore, with a “heartbeat and movement” from Switzerland, and case parts and assembly by a world-class factory and artisans in China, Royce shared.

TENNET’s intent is for buyers, collectors, and supporters of the brand to always recognise a TENNET watch, even years from now, regardless of the specific product model family.

This means they aim to have a cohesive design story and signature motifs, including the case shape, water-drop silhouette of their indices and hands, dimpled crown, and flared lugs.   

Image Credit: TENNET Watch Corporation

According to Royce, TENNET watches are for dreamers and doers who think for themselves and are not happy to simply follow the crowd or jump on the bandwagon.

These are people who craft their own paths, who stand out from the masses, and who have the spirit, audacity, and gumption to take risks and make their dreams come true.  

In short, it’s made for people like Royce.

Time will tell

Bootstrapped by Royce, TENNET was set up was a small independent family business with some assistance from partners for their website, social media, and logistics.

As a small business, each production run is highly limited. The inaugural line was the Somerset, which was sold with an early bird price of US$800 before it was increased to US$1,200.

“I have been surprised and gratified by the strong and encouraging initial sales of TENNET watches, especially since I started with practically zero marketing and advertising,” Royce expressed.

Image Credit: TENNET Watch Corporation

Much of the sales, he believes, has been driven by word of mouth from people who are in the know, including watch collectors and connoisseur.

As for the next steps, there are plans to come up with new colour schemes, metal bracelets, and work on complications such as the calendar, GMT, and moonphase, as well as new product model families, including a diver’s watch and a pilot watch.

According to Royce, collectors, friends, and even competitors have urged them to price the watch much higher considering the value it packs.

However, he wants to stay true to his own values.

“The guarantee I will make is that TENNET will always be guided by our aforesaid mission and values, including good quality design, robust build quality, delivering excellent value to customers, and providing trust and peace of mind to customers.”

“These will always be our North Star,” he said about the tenets of his business.

  • Learn more about TENNET Watch Corporation here.
  • Read other articles we’ve written about startups here.

Featured Image Credit: TENNET Watch Corporation

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Vulcan Post aims to be the knowledge hub of Singapore and Malaysia.

© 2021 GRVTY Media Pte. Ltd.
(UEN 201431998C.)