Nako Timepieces – Growing every minute

By Ryan Blumton

Nako Timepieces is a Botswana based homegrown watchmaker that has gained significant attention particularly online, frequently collaborating with high profile individuals to promote the brand.

Echo speaks to Gabriel Mothibedi the co-founder of Nako Timepieces about the Nako Timepieces and the entrepreneurial journey.

Mothibedi and his partner/co-founder Dr. Tirafalo Otlhogile are academics- Mothibedi being a current PhD student of Design Innovation Policy at Brunel University, London and a lecturer of design at the University of Botswana and Otlhogile being a medical doctor and law student.

Mothibedi said that a lot goes into research and development and that all Nako product innovations go through a 6-month iterative design innovation process that includes applied research. The findings drive the development of the new product strategy leading to conceptualization and rapid prototyping of the products with all these stages taking place in Gaborone.

Nako Timepieces is a visible brand in Botswana’s social media environment with frequent posts and Mothibedi describes their marketing saying, “Central to Nako’s communications’ strategy is storytelling: Botswana’s heritage and pride — with an avid focus on modern horology, art, creativity and design innovation. Brand Nako has adopted design innovation as a competitive strategy. We have offices in Johannesburg, London and New York, which allow us to drive portfolios across 3 continents.”

With the complex inner machinery of watches Mothibedi spoke on what goes into the creation of a Nako timepiece saying, “We source most of our watch movements from the Citizen/Miyota (pty) Ltd, and send everything to Geneva, Switzerland for mass production.”

He said quality is central to all their processes during product design and that last year they celebrated the momentous approval of the greatly praised ‘Swiss made’ mark for their latest collection.

Like any business, Nako Timepieces was negatively affected by the harsh business environment as result of the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Due to Covid-19, our manufacturer was closed for a good 3 months and staff was reduced. This highly affected our business, particularly, the 6 weeks production timelines. Our retail partners, such as Monsieur Collections were also affected by the multiple lockdowns, and this affected business.”

Mothibedi advocates an intimate knowledge of the business for entrepreneurs and adds, “Business managers and leaders with good education, knowledge and skill sets of the operations of their firms will always perform much better than their counterparts, who normally act as middlemen or service brokers.”

Mothibedi says that entrepreneurs ought to be the types of businesspeople who wear lab coats and get their hands dirty, the same person who will later sign contracts and closed massive deals in boardrooms.

He describes design as ‘the connection between creativity and innovation’ and that at Nako they have adopted design as a competitive strategy across design leadership, design management and design execution.

Since phones are a frequent source of telling the time, the watch collection is an enduring art that still has many adherents.

“Over and beyond function, a watch is fashion accessory and a symbol of prestige and class. New Technology such as smart phones and smart watches cannot replace the traditional luxury watch. The watch collector will forever remain a true watch collector.”

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