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Malaysia is without a doubt one of the most interesting countries in Southeast Asia.
It is a country with a rich culture and history, and it is also home to some of the most beautiful natural scenery in the region such as the Petronas Towers and Mount Kinabalu.
There are many things to see and do in Malaysia, and it is a great destination for both backpackers and luxury travelers alike.
One thing that the Land Below the Wind, as it’s often referred to, isn’t particularly known for is watch manufacturing.
So, are there any Malaysian-made watches at all?
Let’s find out.
1. Ming Watches
The first on our list of Malaysian watch brands is Ming – a brand that’s been probably the most talked-about coming from Malaysia.
It was founded in 2017 by a group of friends who all shared a passion for watches and wanted to create something special that was inspired by their country’s rich history and culture.
The brand is led by Ming Thein who, above being a mad watch enthusiast and collector, is also a photographer, designer and business strategist of the company.
Taking into consideration the total experience of all the team members (80+ years), Ming Watches quickly became one of the most interesting new brands on the scene and a proper representative of Malaysia on the global watch market.
Each of Ming’s main contributors has been collecting watches for decades. Longing for the good old days when every iconic timepiece was much more accessible and affordable than today, they set out to create something that would bring the joys of watch ownership back to as many people as possible – without comprising on quality, of course.
Considering the accessible price points of a lion’s share of Ming watch models, it’s natural the company doesn’t manufacture its watches in-house. Instead, they work with a few select suppliers who are able to meet their requirements for quality and finish.
Most importantly, most of the assembly, regulation and testing are performed in the Holy Land of Watchmaking, Switzerland, ensuring excellent standards are met.
One of Ming’s best-selling models, The 17.06, was a hit with both watch enthusiasts and the industry press, being nominated for multiple awards and earning a #1 spot in the prestigious Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève (GPHG) in the “Horological Revelation” prize.
Ming’s strategy is not to be a mass producer, but rather to focus on quality over quantity. This is reflected in their business model as well as the number of watches they release each year – usually no more than a couple of hundred pieces per model. Hence, you’re unlikely to find any timepieces available for instant purchase on their website. Instead, you have to join a waiting list which can take anywhere from a few weeks to a couple of months.
Watches by Ming are characterized by their clean and elegant designs, often with a vintage-inspired look. The entire collection is mechanical (either automatic or manually wound).
It’s safe to consider Ming a high-end brand reserved for connoisseurs and collectors with a bit of money to spend. The prices range from $4,000 to five-figure sums.
2. Nayan Co
Nayan Co is a complete contraindicator of Ming in terms of both price and approach to business.
The company is one of the most budget-friendly watch brands not only in Malaysia but across the whole continent.
Most Nayan Co watches, all of which focus on minimalistic design with elegant touches (eg. leather bands), are priced below the $100 mark. It’s the perfect option for those who are looking for an affordable, yet stylish and well-made watch.
The company was also created back in 2017, this time by a duo of watch enthusiasts Fahad Nasir and Fadzyinie Dullie. It’s headquartered in Sabah.
Nayan’s spike in popularity is credited to Grant Gustin, star of the popular series The Flash, who wore one of the brand’s timepieces at the Teen Choice Awards 2018.
How about the brand with the most Malaysia-sounding name?
Malaya is another Malaysian watchmaker established relatively recently, in 2015, by a group of passionate friends. Unlike the previous two companies on the list, Malaya’s range of products is wider and includes not only watches but also other accessories such as bracelets, keychains, and even pocket knives.
In terms of style, the brand’s watches are also in great contrast with Ming’s and Nayan’s collections. While the former two focus on toned and elegant timepieces, Malaya embraces a more sturdy and military-inspired look. We could say many of their timepieces resemble some Casio models from their world-renowned G-Shock series.
Malaya is a watchmaker oscillating in the bargain-basement price sector with some of its models costing as little as $15.
4. Mem Watches
Not to mistake with “Meme Watches”!
Since 2014, the brand has been designing beautiful and basic timepieces that illustrate Malaysian society’s narrative.
Perhaps the only standout feature of Mem is that all of their watches work counter-clockwise. In fact, it might be the only brand in the world with such an “innovation”.
The thought behind the decision was to encourage people to view time differently and not be bound by the traditional way of telling it.
Other than that, Mem Watches doesn’t offer anything too unique or special, but their timepieces are still well-crafted, look good, and are very affordable – usually priced between $30 and $50.
Nocturne is another homegrown company that recently gained traction as a result of its fashion partnerships with regional designers like Kit Woo and Cassey Gan.
The brand’s style focuses on minimalistic and stylish designs that won’t necessarily break the bank.
Nocturne prides itself on offering timepieces that, on top of looking extremely sleek, are assembled from high-quality components.
For example, all models are powered by reliable Swiss quartz movements manufactured by Ronda, one of the most reliable movement providers worldwide. Equally impressive for an affordable watchmaker (price range: $100-$150) is the use of scratch-resistant sapphire crystal – the hardest glass type used by all the big sharks of the industry.
6. Masa Horlogerie
Last but not least, closing the list is Masa Horlogerie.
Masa Horlogerie is unique in that it is the only watchmaker in Malaysia to incorporate and accentuate Malaysia’s cultural characteristics in its line of watches, which are known by the trademarks “Horologi Warisan” or “Heritage Horlogerie.”
Its casings would likely have elaborate engravings of classic designs including geometric patterns, hibiscus, and imperial insignia. Its first collection displays a remarkable neo-traditional interpretation of the “Songket Bunga Pecah Lapan,” an exquisite pattern that stands for a fresh start, purity, and harmony.
Whether you are in the market for a quality and affordable timepiece or simply want to support your local industry, these Malaysian watch brands have got you covered!
Do you know of any other Malaysian watch brands that should be on this list? Let us know in the comments below!