Watchmaker extraordinaire Bostami Ahmad has been the defining force in creating Artwist limited edition watches that feature unique artwork by artists from all over the world.
“At Artwist. Co we are focused on the creation of storytelling watches that blend art and elegance,” said Bostami, the founder of Artwist Co. Artwist. Co is a Malaysian-based startup supported by the Malaysian Research Accelerator for Technology and Innovation (MRANTI) under its Global Market Fit Programme (GMP).
Who would have imagined that an artwork created by an artist that depicts a particular historical period or the artist's imagination could be immortalised in a wristwatch? Interestingly, these watches are manufactured by Artwist in minuscule quantities - limited to 300 pieces only - making them unique and valuable collectors’ items. Each watch is created in an extremely limited number to offer the artisans plenty of time and space to make other works of art and seek other sources of inspiration. The serial number or name also ensures that the watch is one of a kind and cannot be replicated
An alumnus of the Faculty of Creative Multimedia, Multimedia University (MMU), Bostami shared that the company was incepted in 2018 to facilitate artists by selling their artworks to generate cash. Since the painting may be donned as a watch instead of only hanging on the wall, it can be represented everywhere in the world.
“More than 25 artisans, including those from Malaysia and abroad, such as Nic Mac (United Kingdom) and internationally recognised designer Aleksandra Erdogan from Russia, have so far independently contributed to this business,” he told Bernama in an interview recently.
Bostami, 42, said his latest entrepreneurial journey under the Artwist brand, creating a one-off hand-painted, limited edition watches under the Artwist brand, is in collaboration with artisans, renowned figures such as former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, veteran composer and singer Datuk M. Nasir and renowned brands.
In 2021, Bostami and partner Zakiyah Hasan combined their collective mastery that was developed at the Scuola Politecnica di Design in Milan and shaped by their experience with Lamborghini, Moleskine, 3M, and Google XPrize Moon Mission.
During the meeting with Bostami at the company’s headquarters in Cyberjaya, this writer had the opportunity to view some of the distinctive collections produced by Artwist. The most intriguing of these is a watch called ‘Gerbang’ which features an artpiece of the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Palestine painted by M Nasir himself. This collection, which includes the watch ‘Suatu Masa’ (a popular song he wrote), was created in conjunction with his 40th anniversary celebration in music.
This watch is a must-have for fans of the legendary singer better known by his stage name ‘Sifu M. Nasir’ as it bears his signature on both the wristwatch itself and the warranty card.
SHOT TO POPULARITY
Bostami also recalled the meeting with M. Nasir for the production of two sets of limited edition watches, noting that it was one of the key events that shot the Artwist brand to popularity.
"This collection of watches is what made us more well-known to clients; when we opened the sales booth at Datuk M. Nasir's Satu Hikayat 40-year Journey concert (Nov 23-24, 2019) at the Plenary Hall, Kuala Lumpur City Centre (KLCC), each and every one of the 120 timepieces was sold. Here, we saw tremendous opportunity for us to grow our empire in the watchmaking industry and to compete with other global watch brands," he said.
The manufacturing of limited edition timepieces, which is the core of Artwist's business strategy, also creates a brand-new opportunity for the artisans themselves to gain from the resale value of the watch, which often rises in value over time.
"A skilled local artist from Kuala Pilah, Negeri Sembilan named Kide has created a series of ‘Janji Temu’ collections that include figures from Malaysian folkfore like Kanda and Juwita. “Each of them displays an authentic and sincere demeanour that Kide painstakingly painted in his very vibrant style on the watch's dial pad,” he added.
Artwist watches price ranges from RM500 to RM3,000 while the resale value of this watch will be far more than the initial price sold. The artwork is assembled on Artwist watches in the form of masterpieces and adorns the watch faces.
They are one of a kind, unusual, and special since they may be the smallest works of functional art ever created. Artwist watches price ranges from RM500 to RM3,000 while the resale value of this watch will be far more than the initial price sold to a buyer. Artwist also provides free name engraving on the back of the case for every purchase.
Each watch design reflects the essence and guiding principles of the company. In order to give the greatest design and production solutions that are in line with international standards and market trends, Bostami collaborates with various international manufacturing partners and watchmaking industry professionals.
"The creation of concept drawings and design development, which typically involves artisans or partners throughout the manufacturing of a specific model series, is the first step in the creative design work we do. The comprehensive visualisation process and material selection for the watch's manufacturing will then be carried out. "Following that, we'll undertake 3D photorealistic mapping to aid in the creation of the prototypes.
When the collection series is ready to be sold to customers, we will assemble and produce it with the assistance of our business strategic partners, he said. With such design realisation, Artwist has envisioned a fine art masterpiece as reflected in the special ‘art piece’ centre, which is the watch dial-pad that can convey an exclusive character of an artisan.
“For instance, any die-hard fans of the legendary rock band Wings can buy a special edition of the chronograph watch specially designed in conjunction with Wings’ 35th anniversary with the theme All Black Edition along with the characteristics of sporty elegance.
“The Artwist.Co and Wings logos are visible on the main surface of the watch, and there will be no more production after it is sold out," he added.
Regarding the watch engine technology employed, Bostami said Artwist exclusively selects the best technology, which is accessible from Japan. Towards this end, the company has entered into collaboration with Seiko and Miyota movements via manufacturing partners, to produce their watches.
"The Seiko company and their greatness in the production of watches are undeniable because they have been around since 1881, and because they have the technology and production facilities to design and manufacture all of the parts for their mechanical watches internally.
“The Miyota movements enjoy a strong reputation among specialists and are seen to be similar to conventional Swiss production. Miyota, one of the companies making chronograph-type watches, enjoys a good reputation among professionals and is deemed to be equivalent to traditional Swiss production," he said.
Artwist.Co has also partnered with renowned watch technical expert, Timepiece Service Centre (TSC) comprising a team of dedicated and experienced watchmakers and technicians.
CELEBRATING NATION'S LEADERS
Besides collaborating with various arty persona, music bands, and private label brands, Artwist.Co is in the process of highlighting Malaysia's notable Prime Ministers who have enormously contributed to the development and modernisation of the country in its wristwatch collection.
He said the company has teamed up with the National Archives of Malaysia and the Perdana Leadership Foundation to honour Malaysia's iconic personalities by creating an exclusive designer collection called Negarawan - Prime Minister of Malaysia Series.
"The limited-edition watches are a fusion of traditional heritage and contemporary luxury design, reflecting the individual style of each Negarawan (statesman) brand persona.
Through a funky fusion of art and function, we also want to showcase a wearable masterpiece that transcends traditional timekeeping," he explained. One of the recent projects is to celebrate the 40th Anniversary of Dr Mahathir as the 4th and 7th Prime Minister (1981 – 2021) who is also known as Malaysia’s Father of Modernisation. From this exclusive tie-up, Artwist designed and produced two editions named Patriot and Wawasan that combined both modern elegance and timeless aesthetics.
“Tun M Wawasan Chronograph watch for example is a 42mm square-cased timepiece that is realised in a matte-finished steel case with hardened mineral lens glass and powered using high-quality Miyota Movement.
“A sporty-elegance design by Artwist with a bold shape with supreme Tun M Signature in dominance depicts a progressive and timeless-looking watch. Graphical art on the two-circle mini disc dials is inspired by the Twin Tower contour of KLCC from the top view,” he added.
The fine art of the work can be seen through the dial-pad watch that shows the exclusive skills of each artist and artisan involved.
Other than Tun M series, Artwist.Co also produced the (first prime minister) Tunku Abdul Rahman Putra Al-Haj series which come with limited edition coins and exclusive booklet featuring rare photos of Tunku Abdul Rahman from the National Archives archive, while (sixth prime minister) Datuk Seri Najib Razak series come with Bossku and Transformasi version. The company is also in talks with the Prime Minister's Office to produce the watch series collection of Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim in the near future.
To date, Artwist has sold thousands of watches and exported to more than 22 countries across the world.