Pre-historically hourglasses were used to scale time, and as humanity evolved, there were changes and nowadays timepieces are modified to smaller accessories, which include the wristwatch.
A wristwatch is more than an accessory to tell time but also a fashion statement that reflects culture and style, and the wearer’s social status and demographic. Botswana has recently seen the emergence of a bespoke luxury timepiece range to write home about. Nako Timepieces prides itself as an innovative luxury watchmaker brand, which is a combination of dignified craftsmanship best referred to as ‘wearable works of art.’
Founder and director of Nako Timepieces brand, Gabriel Mothibedi tells BG Style that their timepieces provide function and lavish style: a level of sophisticated simplicity. “It is a brand with historical significance that bears Botswana’s heritage on a wrist.” He further explains that Nako Timepieces was founded on the belief that state-of-the-art watch making can be synonymous with the cultural and historical significance of Botswana. “The initial inspiration was to merge historical significance, innovation and luxury watch making that is proudly Botswana. We sought to give Botswana something to point to, a visual vocabulary to tell her story and express her heritage to the world. We have also provided a glimpse of how design driven innovation, as a form of incremental innovation, can become a key alternative economic development strategy,” he says.
According to Mothibedi, Nako expresses in its brand, conception through design and product offerings, emotion and the experience of the African. “The cultural journey of a myriad of ethnicities making Africa is translatable into works of art that can be captured throughout the transcendence of time, into a quality timepiece.”
Mothibedi also says that they took a semantic route of using languages as a cultural aspect hence the name Nako, which means time in Setswana. “Time is all around us: it is a measure of life and experience. The simple observation of the stars and changes in the seasons, day and night, began to come up with primitive means of scaling time, and the brand itself embraces these as they were reflected in activities such as farming and sacred feasts: in the context of Botswana cultural ceremonies. Nako Timepieces embodies the traditional methods of how time was told and embraces the modified version of the time tellers to small convenient wrist accessories.”
The design concept is an intricate and interesting one and Mothibedi explains that contextually, the visual abstraction, a preeminent characteristic of African art, of the manually inscripted brand name buries naturalistic letterforms and an organic visual flow which is symbolic of the abstract nature of African art; specifically the exaggerated figures of animal paintings found in the Tsodilo Hills. “Silhouettes of these animals can be seen on the canvass itself, and a rough canvass texture symbolic of the quart size rock was created. The red colour is symbolic of the red ochre pigment, derived from hematite, which the San people used on some rock paintings of the Tsodilo Hills.”
The watches are designed in Botswana and manufactured in Switzerland, considered the centre of the watch industry. Nako Timepieces is currently sold from the company warehouse. Mothibedi says that the timepieces will soon be available across Botswana, South Africa as well as in London and New York.