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Something that has put me off smartwatches is the fact that they oftentimes come off too minimalistic, without the sophisticated look and feel that luxury watches come with. Yet, luxury watches often lack the sheer functionality and modern sensibilities that a smartwatch offers.

Of course, there are some that break this mold, with my favourite one being Huawei’s ceramic watch.  

The arguably over-simplistic visage of smartwatches was something that Shien Yeong, who goes by Shien, took notice of in 2021. Specifically, he took note of how his mum’s new Apple Watch at the time looked too generic.

“At that point of time, there weren’t many options for Apple Watch accessories and most of them were generic in design,” he claimed. “The light bulb moment came when I realised that there was a market gap for customisable Apple watch strap designs.”

Image Credit: Amarald.Co

Coincidentally, Shien had a friend from Melbourne whose family owns a watch manufacturing business. This friend had previously reached out with a business opportunity to customise watches, but Shien initially turned it down because he was busy managing a company he was working at.

But now, with his eureka moment, he reached back out to that friend, counter-proposing his idea to produce custom accessories for Apple Watches.

“With this inspiration and months of planning along with our design and marketing team, my very first brainchild, Amarald.Co was established,” Shien shared.  

Meet the mastermind

Although Shien grew up in Kuala Lumpur, he’s actually a Singaporean son, meaning he did have to serve national service in Singapore for two years.

After his conscription, Shien pursued his tertiary education in Business Finance and Marketing in Australia, which is how he met his friend in the watch manufacturing industry.

At age 26, he finally moved back to KL, where he was recruited by an F&B chain restaurant as the company’s general manager.

Image Credit: Amarald.Co

Yet, Shien isn’t the kind to just sit idly by. So when the idea and opportunity start Amarald came, he made the decision to quit his role and pursue his own venture.  

“Utilising the support of my family and close friends, I combined all of my personal resources to establish Amarald,” he explained.

In addition to his role at Amarald, Shien also holds a position as a “casual staff member” at a private equity firm, while also being the sole proprietor of a wine distribution company.

Case by case

Engaging with master watchmakers, Amarald uses traditional techniques from the Swiss watchmaking industry to craft and design their cases.

The manufacturing process starts with the production of watch frames or case moulds, which could take up to a week through trial and error.

Image Credit: Amarald.Co

From there, CNC laser cutting machines are used to shape the relevant materials into the watch parts. Once the base frame parts are completed, the surfaces are prepared for cleaning, rinsing, then polishing.

Finally, all the parts including the watch strap and buckle will be assembled by hand. Altogether, it takes about 20 to 40 days to produce a piece fully.

Amarald’s products range from RM899 to RM1,899, depending on the design. However, the most expensive watch Shien has sold went up to around RM8,000.

Image Credit: Amarald.Co

“The piece was the GRA-certified moissanite diamond rose gold Amarald frame,” Shien explained. “Each stone was hand-installed and embedded by our master craftsman to ensure meticulous alignment.”

Every Amarald case is customisable, meaning clients can choose different material options, colour variant, strap colour, buckle type, and the design of their choice and to finish off its uniqueness.

Each of Amarald’s released designs are limited to 999 pieces worldwide for their “general design” category, and 99 pieces for rare designs. Each watch is also marked with a unique serial number engraved on the temple, verifying its authenticity.

The brand offers a warranty on their products, typically a one-year period, but it depends from product to product.

A growing business

Since Amarald’s inception about two years ago, they have sold around 500 pieces nationwide.

Among their customers include prominent ones such as Joe Flizzoe and Kid Sante, who are notable Malaysian rap and hip-hop artists. Other notable names include Alif Aziz and DJ Mr. Yang.

But even with celebrities in his audience, Shien said that a big challenge Amarald faces is converting casual shoppers into actual paying customers.

Image Credit: Amarald.Co

“It is a constant need to be creative in our content creation, constantly upgrading the webstore to smoothen the checking out process,” he said.

The ultimate goal for Amarald is to expand to other countries in Southeast Asia and into the Australian market. To accomplish this, they’re already in talks with potential partners and shareholders.

On the topic of expansion, though, it’s curious that Shien doesn’t have any plans to expand beyond serving the Apple clientele. His reasoning for this is because his research shows that Apple is the leading company in the smartwatch industry in terms of shipment shares, according to Statista.com.

So, Amarald will continue to focus on Apple products, but Shien revealed that they may expand into other products within the company such as iPhones and create cases for those. Perhaps focusing on a specific demographic (AKA Apple loyalists) will help build Amarald’s own niche.

  • Learn more about Amarald.Co here.
  • Read other articles we’ve written about Malaysian startups here.

Featured Image Credit: Amarald.Co

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

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