By Susanna Tjokro, Contributor/Jakarta
Irwan Danny Mussry is a prominent figure in Indonesia's watch business. His company, Time International, carries 27 medium and high-end watch brands, such as Vacheron Constantin, Piaget, Zenith, Cartier as well as Rolex, the most popular luxury watch brand in Indonesia.
Time International opened Cartier Green Boutique in Plaza Indonesia in 1995. Afterward, to meet the growing demand for luxurious timepieces in Indonesia, the company opened several The Time Place boutiques, in 1995 (at Plaza Senayan), 2002 (Plaza Indonesia) and 2004 (Tunjungan Plaza, Surabaya), and in 2005 it opened two INTime boutiques, in Plaza Senayan (April), as well as in Pondok Indah Mall II (in August).
Irwan decided to get involved in the luxury watch business due to his disappointment that there was no watch shop or boutique in Jakarta that ""educated"" their customers about timepieces, back in 1978.
He started his business with his cousin Victor Sassoon (chairman of Time International). ""We both grew up around this business,"" says Irwan. Victor's parents had a watch store also, but they sold only mass-produced watches, like Samson and Nelson. Thus in terms of luxury watches, Irwan and Victor started their business from zero.
When they opened their watch business, they decided they would not sell mass-produced watches at all. In 1979, they opened a service center and became a distributor for Gucci. After that their business grew and grew. Today, Time International is a distributor for 27 medium and high-end watch brands.
Irwan believes that teamwork plays a key role in his business' success. ""I could not have done it without my team -- I have no doubt about that,"" he says humbly. ""I remember when we started this business, as newcomers, Victor and I had to wait a couple of hours just to sell one or two pieces. Also, sometimes people refused to meet us. Facing rejection is hard, but we became used it. Thank God, we did not give up easily. We'd seen struggle before, in our family, as there were ups and downs in their business too. I believe being rejected is part of the business -- rejection makes us stronger,"" says Irwan about his early days.
To share their knowledge and passion about watches with the public, Time International publishes a free glossy magazine, The Time Place, filled with interesting articles in English and Indonesian. The content of the magazine itself is improving, particularly if one compares the latest edition with the first one, which was published in January 2004.
""Our staff is trained by the brands, if you have any questions about the watches, you can ask them. Also, our service center is authorized by the brands. We sell 100 percent brand new, authentic watches,"" says Irwan. ""In my opinion, every customer is entitled to all their rights, from fair price to good service. In fact, we guarantee our customers a fair price. We will refund their money if they find exactly the same watch cheaper anywhere else, including in Singapore and Malaysia,"" says Irwan.
""It's widely known that Indonesians like buying their watches overseas. I hope someday they will choose to buy there timepieces here,"" says Irwan.
He also wants luxury brands to recognize the importance of the Indonesian market by launching their timepieces here. A lot of effort has gone into making such an event a success.
In July 2005, Time International had the honor of showing Panerai ""Arktos Collection"" for the first time in Asia, to VIP customers at a private dinner. The company also had the honor of showing the ""1755"" collection from Vacheron Constantin for the first time in Asia to VIP customers at The Time Place boutique. In addition, Time International presented 12 luxury watch brands in the ""Symphony of Time"" at the Grand Hyatt ballroom from Aug. 11 to 14 this year. It was the company's fifth exhibition. Baume & Mercier, Cartier, Vacheron Constantine and Piaget are to name but a few participants. Rare, limited editions as well as masterpiece timepieces were on display. By attending that prestigious exhibition, people could gain knowledge about watches.
Irwan spent two years at California State University majoring in business. However, at the same time, he traveled back and forth between the U.S and Indonesia to run his business. ""Honestly, as our business was growing; I was more interested in making money than being in the classroom. I thought I should take a break from school, learn from the real world and then go back to school -- but that was 20 years,"" says Irwan with a smile. He does not regret his decision, but he also says he may continue his education someday.
As for hobbies, speed is his middle name. ""Anything to do with speed is my hobby, I love anything fast, such as fast planes and fast cars -- I used to race,"" says Irwan, who was born on Nov. 15, 1962.
""Don't give up easily and take your chances, if things do not turn out well, then move on. At least you know you've tried everything, instead of regretting what you might have done,"" says Irwan about the recipe of his success.