Perpétuel Gallery continues to lead in supporting independent boutique timekeepers – recently, bringing the likes of Fears, Havid Nagan, Lang 1943 and Seconde/Seconde/ to the fore, each with a different appeal for enthusiasts.
In the Watch Pioneers series, we sat down with independent watchmaking brand founders on a recent visit to Dubai. Here, we put the spotlight on Aren Bazerkanian, Founder and CEO of Havid Nagan, who is on a path to crafting his legacy in the independent watchmaking business.
When did your passion for watchmaking begin?
I discovered watchmaking a bit later in life relative to what is the typical story you hear from my industry peers. I began paying attention to Rolex and Patek Philippe around 19 years old but discovered the independent niche a bit later. I have been obsessed with the independents since I discovered the Franck Muller Sahara and Casablanca Havana as those were my first exposures to out-of-box watchmaking.
How did you make this transition from having an entirely different career to building an independent watch brand?
My first foray into the watch world was FP Journe. It is like graduating from finance and getting a first job at Goldman Sachs. I learned everything from them. When I was hired, on the first day, I told Laurent, the brother of Francois-Paul, I will not leave this place to go work for anyone else. I will only leave when I am ready to launch my brand. I designed and built what would become Havid Nagan and the HN00 throughout my time at Journe on my off days and at night. It was a natural progression to go from the pinnacle of an independent brand into operating and building my own the way I wanted to. To see a man, live his life expressing his passion AND building and carrying his own legacy was also a natural inspiration for me. I vowed on my first day on the job that if I was to leave this place, it would be to build and carry my legacy forward, and not another man’s.
How do you balance the creative and commercial sides of the business, and do you feel more drawn to one than the other?
Most of the time, I feel in harmony orchestrating both aspects. I worked in real estate in my past career so the business-related aspect of running a company is not so foreign to me. The creative side is, of course, my favourite because it brings me peace, and fulfilment, and allows me to take the expression I have within and put it outside. It is quite satisfying, on both a cellular and existential level, to see a design drawn out on paper come to life and on your wrist as a finished watch.
How does the watch space differ in the Middle East compared to other regions?
I have many collectors and friends who are from the region who tell me about the collective attitude and interests in the region. To me, it seems the collectors here are more open to creative and unique independents before the market has already discovered them. They want to share up-and-coming creators and are willing to take the leap of faith in supporting emerging brands on the scene.
What have been the overarching narratives in watch design over the past few years and how does this year’s crop fit in?
In terms of design, we all know the stainless-steel sports watch craze and the dive watch derivatives. That craze, although it is not completely gone, has begun to fade away and now collectors, from all regions, are beginning to shift towards watches that are more unique. This has given a path to new creators with new ideas to present themselves and their watch counterparts. In terms of the practices common in the industry, the demand and waitlists continue to push bigger brands to implement strategies that are meant to leverage and maximize profits over actual collectorship. This was “acceptable” when the rush of demand was newfound; now these strategies have turned off the real collectors and they have begun to venture out into the peripheries of watch collecting, namely into the independent and niche brands. So, for the real collectors, I ask are we ultimately glad these strategies were implemented given they have led us to what we now so vehemently celebrate as independent watch brands?
“The brand is not meant to be a vehicle for my capitalistic endeavours; it’s merely a medium through which I express my vision for what the perfect watch is.”
Is there pressure in scaling the number of quantities you manufacture?
Not for someone like me or my brand. The intent behind Havid Nagan is for it to cultivate a genuine, sincere, and passionate group of collectors. By virtue of those characteristics and the fact that Havid Nagan is such a new brand, the group of prospective collectors is small, relative to the size of the big brands. The brand is not meant to be a vehicle for my capitalistic endeavours; it’s merely a medium through which I express my vision of what the perfect watch is. It is rather a selfish endeavour and one I hope connects with other collectors as my goal is to share my passion with others. That is not to say that’s how things will always be done at Havid Nagan but for the time being, we work with what we have.
Which is the most pioneering piece you’ve created to date?
Considering I’ve only brought one watch to the market for now, it would be the HN00. The case design will always stay consistent throughout each model introduced but the dial layouts and complications will be starkly different moving forward. That being said, I am nearing the final stages of development for my next creation, the HN01 Lucine. It will be a thinner watch, more complicated, and will feature elevated finishing. As I release each model, my intent is to create more complex and intricate models for two reasons; the designs I have in mind are more complex and the collector base I have garnered is high-calibre. This has given me the creative opportunity to truly “flex” within my design parameters.
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Images: Supplied by Havid Nagan