Singapore Microbrands: Insights from Arcturus Watches Founder, Alexander LohWritten by Melissa Kong
“I hope to make Arcturus the brightest star in the microbrands community.”
In our new series of interviews with Singapore microbrand owners, we ask them to tell us about the challenges and misconceptions associated with running a watch microbrand. Here, Alexander Loh of Arcturus Watches shares what he thinks sets microbrands apart from the big boys.
Microbrands have some advantages. The customers get to interact with the microbrand creators through social media and this humanises the brands quite a lot. It gives watch lovers a sense of security, insofar that it is not a faceless brand, and they can judge for themselves the trustworthiness of the brand. Also, microbrands have more of a creative license to push design boundaries, as opposed to the bigger brands who have to adhere to a set of brand guidelines.
The Arcturus LC-1
Singapore is the mecca of microbrands. Our fellow countrymen aren’t as exposed to microbrands as compared to those from other countries. Having said that, I feel that that sentiment is fast changing, with the opening of boutiques like Watch Wonderland at Suntec City where they carry microbrands exclusively (save for Seiko). The Singapore Watch Appreciation Group on Facebook is also probably one of the most brand agnostic groups where the members have a truly diverse collection.
Microbrands are not inferior. Some people have a misguided perception that local brands can’t hold a candle to international brands, or that ‘microbrands’ mean ‘micro prices’. Both are highly untrue!
Mechanical watches have soul. They’ve defied the wave of transformative technology like smartwatches. If people wanted truly accurate time, they would simply check their phone. I’d say people still buy mechanical watches because they appreciate the design and craftsmanship. They like the little gears turning in unison, the oscillating balance wheel and the melodic ticking of the pallet fork. It all adds to the magic.
The road ahead looks good. I’m quite the romantic and idealist when it comes to microbrands. The world is a huge place, with new and fresh ideas from around the world popping up daily. I feel microbrands are here to stay. Arcturus is the name of the brightest star in the Bootes constellation and as its name suggests, I hope to make Arcturus the brightest star in the microbrands community and help place Singapore on the international horological map. Yes, I’m cheesy like that.
Like most people these days, Melissa tells the time with her phone. She considers serious timepieces works of art and thinks the perpetual calendar is the handiest complication to date (pun not intended). She's also a Grammar Nazi but promises not to judge if you can't tell the difference between "guilloche" and "guillotine".