Childish curiosity leads to lifelong passion

PETALING JAYA: As a young lad, it was love at first sight when Tham Onn Chuan, now 65, saw a mechanical watch for the first time. He wondered why it worked so well, and soon curiosity led him to take it apart. Of course it was his father’s watch and he got an ear for his deed.

But that initial curiosity grew on him and in his adult life he started his own company, ATG Watch, to sell high quality watches.

“ATG Watch was founded in 2000 and soon became the sole distributor of Montres EPOS SA, a Swiss EPOS brand watch manufacturer since 1925. Six years later, the Titoni brand appointed the company as its official distributor in Southeast Asia.

“Everything went well and the business continued to grow. From a luxury watch retailer, ATG Watch has grown into a distributor of the world’s leading watch brands.”

A watch collector and enthusiast for around 50 years, Tham said mechanical watches are works of art and he wanted to spread his love of such machines to more people by making quality mechanical watches affordable for the masses.

“I wanted the younger generation to appreciate mechanical watches and cultivate their passion and love for them. But brand watches are expensive and unaffordable for the man on the street.

“One day a good friend asked me if my watch had a brand. When I said no, he spoke about the importance of building a brand for future generations in order to achieve my vision of bringing affordable mechanical watches to the masses.

“In 2019 I started looking for a good brand name and a simple logo. I registered brands, selected the right movements and designed cases for several collections.”

One of his biggest challenges was convincing watch lovers to buy an unknown brand. Another keeps the brand alive for at least 50 years for the next generation. Malaysian watch lovers, he said, are very adventurous and willingly accept new brands with a strong identity, high quality and excellent value for money.

Tham has already started creating watches under his IROAS brand, which will be launched once he finalizes the designs.

But for now he has decided to introduce a series of collections representing the Air Force, Navy and others.

“I will sell IROAS watches for between RM1,900 and RM4,900. They will be watches of the highest quality to rival any Swiss or Japanese brand because although I will be selling a Malaysian brand the watches are made overseas to very high specifications. They will use both Swiss and Japanese movements.”

He also plans to export the watches through the dealer network that ATG Watch has built up over the years. His goal, he said, is to act globally without borders and use the digital platform to do so.

Tham also said that he will invest heavily in brand awareness and, in the long term, will continue to refine his range of watches to build a solid brand image. Anyone interested in learning more about their company and the IROAS watch brand can visit the ATG Watch website at Childish curiosity leads to lifelong passion

Tom Vazquez

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