IRWAN DANNY MUSSRY
In The Moment
“I’VE BEEN IN THE luxury watch business for a long time, and I don’t know how many watches I own,” says Irwan Danny Mussry, President and CEO of Time International. “But the enjoyment is not about how many timepieces I might have. It’s about the stories that go along with collecting watches. That’s what luxury is about. That’s what I enjoy.”
“I don’t have one favourite watch,” he says. “I open my drawer and pick out what I want to wear at that moment. It’s all about the moment for me.” Surabaya-born Mussry points to the magnificent limited-edition Piaget automatic watch on his wrist. “If you’d asked me last night, I wouldn’t know I’d be wearing this watch right now,” he says. “It came down to how I felt this morning.” Then the jovial entrepreneur breaks into a smile. “When I picked up this watch, I had Prestige and this interview in mind. I’ve had this model for over 10 years, but it still looks brand new. If I told them it was a week old, people would believe me because it looks so good. What I like about it is that, when it came out, it was thin but it still had all these different functions - like the dual time zone, and the day and night indicator. It’s hard to imagine how to calibrate that when you have to put the parts together in a case that’s so thin. The watchmaker must have spent a good amount of time designing and making this watch. I’m in awe of the person or talent behind the watch. You need to have amazing expertise and dedication to your craft to be able to create something like this.”
From a young age, Mussry has had an affinity for the finer things in life. After completing his studies in 1983 at California State University, Los Angeles, where he majored in Business, he returned to Indonesia. “What motivated me to stay in the luxury business throughout all these years was the desire to share the dream of luxury with a bigger audience,” he says. “People perceive luxury as something that’s far from everyday reality. But through our products and services, we are bringing the dream closer to people - whether they look up to a certain celebrity or like to get involved with motor racing or diving, or some other sport or activity.
Under 52-year-old Mussry’s inspirational leadership, Time International has built a powerful brand portfolio that boasts many of the greatest names in haute horlogerie: Audemars Piguet, Cartier, Jaeger-LeCoultre, Piaget, TAG Heuer and Vacheron Constantin, to name just a few.
“What’s important to me about luxury products are the stories and experiences that come from acquiring beautiful things. It’s the same when I’m buying paintings. I never plan to get a particular watch. But when I see it, and if I like it, I ask people for their opinions and stories.” This avid timepiece enthusiast says he doesn’t feel fully dressed without a watch on his wrist. “A watch is a choice, part of a lifestyle. I think, personally, I look at my watch more than my phone. I’m more comfortable when I have my watch on. If you’re at a nice dinner party, it’s not polite to keep looking at your phone to check the time, is it? A watch is a piece of jewellery, yes, but it’s also a necessity in a sense.”
Mussry established Time International to provide a one-stop service for watch lovers. The business opportunity occurred to him when he was buying his first watch in the 1980s. “I was looking for a Gucci watch that was in trend then. Because the service wasn’t very good and I felt that the brand wasn’t represented well, I saw a business opportunity. This is how Time International started. I approached the brand and presented to them what I could do for them. This really brought us to where we are today.
“We’ve started to have this entrepreneurial feel in the company, because we don’t work for each other – we work with each other.”
Time International is proud still to be representing Gucci watches in Indonesia.”
Time International has always been a pioneer in the luxury watch business here. HYT, a Swiss company that creates creating exclusive hybrid mechanical timepieces for watch connoisseurs, is the latest addition to the company’s watch brand portfolio. “2014 has been an exciting year for us,” says Mussry. “We have done a few openings towards the end of the year – our second Cartier boutique after 20 years, at Plaza Senayan, and a new INTime branch at Grand Indonesia. We’ve started to have this entrepreneurial feel in the company, because we don’t work for each other – we work with each other. We now have better leaders in the company who will help Time International to keep growing. Our strength is in our people. Our results for this year are above the target we set for ourselves - and that was a challenge, believe me. I’ve learned over the years that I’m a people person. I like to work with a good team. I can give in more input if I work with a team - not merely by leading, but also through sharing ideas.”
Mussry goes on to illustrate his point with an anecdote about Time International’s recently concluded partnership with HYT. “We normally look at brands that are mature and established. But part of the reason we chose to work with HYT was because the brand has been built by a group of businesspeople who are hip, young, and today’s business people. Some of the shareholders are watch specialists who have been in the business for quite a while, managing other brands or understanding the technology of watchmaking. They are a technology-based company, but they work with one of the best movement makers in the world. It’s an interesting group of people. When you combine this, it’s the birth of a solid, powerful brand. It’s not just the brand, but it’s also the people and story behind the brand.
“For the past five years, the number of watch aficionados in Southeast Asia has been growing rapidly - a lot of new money, new businesses, younger and successful entrepreneurs in the world of business. They’re new and edgy people, so they’re looking for more innovative things. It’s very positive and helps a lot of the independent brands and drives new technology in watchmaking. Women and men are also getting closer in terms of their preferences in watches. It’s now hard to determine which watch is exclusively for women or for men. A lot of ladies are buying men’s watches today for the bigger size and complications. It’s getting closer. It’s good that women are comfortable wearing that. About 65 percent of the market in Indonesia is for men’s watches. However, out of that percentage, I think easily 20 percent of the buyers are ladies. I think this change in taste can be attributed to lifestyle choices. The consumers in Indonesia have become more mature and knowledgeable, with all the information they can get through various channels. However, the challenge is still to share the experience and stories with new customers.
“Next year, we’ll put even more investment into our team. This is what will make the company grow and succeed further. Teamwork
really leads the company, and what I look for in people is integrity and respect. When they have that foundation, then come all the other things like being enthusiastic about the product and expressing yourself. A big no is hypocrisy or politicking in the company. I hope to have better and bigger leaders in the organisation. We are in the middle of restructuring again, because we want to build a structure that nurtures leadership and entrepreneurship.”
Mussry says it’s important for successful entrepreneurs to give back to society. “We’ve worked with Happy Hearts Fund to restore and reconstruct a school in Margamulya village in Tangerang that was badly damaged by floods,” he notes. “For many years, we’ve had CSR (corporate social responsibility) programmes. I think it’s part of our responsibility, but also our character as a company. The team really supported this. After all, children are the backbone of the nation’s future. By building our first school, we hope to help and contribute the welfare of the community. We give back, and through that we gain a lot of positive energy that motivates us.”
Mussry admits that managing his own busy schedule while leading more than 600 employees is no easy task. “I respect and value time,” he says. “I’m a ‘moments person’, so when I’m here with you now, I’m really here – in the moment. Whatever I’m doing, it’s for that moment. I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else but here. Managing time is a very big challenge. I tell myself, if I’m late for something, it wouldn’t maximise my time being there. I’d rather be early and prepared so I can perform better. Being on time has a lot more positive implications rather than if you’re rushed. I don’t think you can ever master the art of time management - you continue learning to master it.
“I’m blessed with what I do. I’ve felt that for a long time. It’s not easy to come to the office day after day for 30 years and still feel the vibe, the excitement. I’m not old, but I’m not a young man anymore either. I’ve worked with different generations of people. More and more, I realise that working with a strong team and trying out new ideas is really the key to continue being happy. I can’t imagine not working here at Time International. I’m at a time of my life where I could make the choice not to come to the office, but I wouldn’t want to do that. It’s not because I’m micromanaging things, but I really enjoy being around great people. They say it’s all about who you choose to be around. I believe I got where I am today because I have a great team to help me. There’s no other way I could be here without their support.”
With so much zeal for fine timepieces and devotion to the company he founded as a young man, it seems that Irwan Danny Mussry is still really having the time of his life.