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First Generation of Africa’s Artisan Watchmakers

The continent’s watchmakers enjoyed a moment in the international spotlight in 2019 when the Duke and Duchess of Sussex were given LN Watches featuring straps in the colours of Zulu royalty during their visit to South Africa. Meanwhile in Nigeria, luxury watchmaker Asorock is taking on international brands and forging a reputation for artistry and reliability. At its Ghanaian factory, Caveman now has workers expert at different stages of the painstaking watchmaking process and has had to separate its process to prevent spies from competitors stealing trade secrets. The size of the embryonic African timepiece manufacturing sector is unclear, as second-hand sales dominate, and less research has been carried out. But the production process is the same used by counterparts around the world, with most firms starting off by importing watch movements – also known as a “calibre” in horology – the mechanical engine that drives the watch, chiefly from Japanese manufacturers Seiko or Miyota. Caveman says about 70% of their watch movement parts are imported from Japan, with 30% customised and assembled in Ghana.