He Wanted a New Watch, but Ended Up Creating a Brand

“I always knew that I was going to do something different from the 9 to 5,” Robert Kwok said with a laugh, aware of the irony that, as the founder of Beaufort Watches, all he does is work with time.

Mr. Kwok, 25 and an Auckland native, blames that perspective for the fact he barely scraped through high school. But he said he “really knuckled down” when he entered Auckland University of Technology in 2016 and his journey toward starting one of New Zealand’s few watch brands began in earnest.

“My goal was to start a business before I finished uni,” he said during an interview at the Beaufort store in the city’s well-to-do Ponsonby suburb. The boutique, which opened Nov. 30, has a contemporary look with low-slung leather chairs and a lounge area for cocktails. On display were versions of the brand’s two current models: the sleek 40-millimeter Aerotimer MK11 (559 New Zealand dollars, or about $340) and the sportier 39-millimeter Seatrekker (649 dollars), in several colorways.

Both are powered by the automatic STP 1-11 movement, made by Swiss Technology Production, with the cases manufactured in Hong Kong and leather straps made in Italy (stainless steel bracelets and rubber options are available).

Opening day at Mr. Kwok’s boutique in Auckland’s Ponsonby suburb. The store has a contemporary look with low-slung leather chairs and a lounge area for cocktails.Credit…via Beaufort Watches

All the Beaufort watches were designed by Mr. Kwok, who sends scans of his sketches to his factory, which turns them into technical drawings for use in sourcing parts. “I’m a terrible artist,” he said, “but I know what I want the end result to look like, so there’s a bit of back and forth with the factory to get to that.” As of last year, all Beaufort timepieces are assembled in Taupo, New Zealand.

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