The genesis of Swiss Watch is a tale of time, chance, determination and hard work. More than 20 years ago, the core business of luxury retail specialist Valiram Group revolved around the textile trade and lifestyle retail. But with each passing generation, its business evolved to match the needs and wants of its customers.
Swiss Watch was the result of the group’s attempts to diversify and expand its reach to the luxury watch industry in 2000. Valiram Group’s executive director Ashvin Valiram recalls when tenders were called at the Penang International Airport, he and his brothers, Mukesh and Sharan, decided to take the chance and bid to open a watch store. This is despite them having almost no experience in watch retailing.
Looking back, Ashvin says it was extremely challenging entering a brand new industry that already has many well-established players. Naturally, there were roadblocks along the way. “Being young and naïve, we had heard that the sales of timepieces were typically quite high,” tells Ashvin. “When the watch retail fraternity heard we wanted to open a new store, they laughed at our attempt. But that disbelief only strengthened our will and ambition.”
THE BEGINNINGS OF GREATNESS
The Valiram siblings’ persistence paid off in April 2001 when Swiss Watch opened its first boutique in Penang. The multi-brand emporium of luxury watches carried 16 carefully selected watch brands that included Rado, Tissot, Cartier and Breitling. “We were very proud to have been able to present such a product repertoire,” Ashvin says.
Subsequently, Swiss Watch opened its second boutique in Kuala Lumpur International Airport in 2002. Further expanding their retail reach they opened a third store in Pavilion KL in 2008. Moving beyond their multi-brand stores, the brand also took over Rolex in KLCC in 2009 and later set its sights on expanding to overseas markets. A year later, they opened their flagship Swiss Watch boutique at Resorts World Sentosa.
Over the past 20 years, the business has grown by leaps and bounds to become one of the leading watch retailers in the region today. There are now nine multi-brand Swiss Watch boutiques and more than 30 specialist watch and jewellery boutiques. Brands include Rolex, Tudor, Panerai, IWC Schaffhausen, Omega, Cartier and Bulgari. The boutique’s portfolio has now grown to 50 brands that span across four countries: Malaysia, Singapore, Australia and Thailand.