Style & Beauty

This Dutch-Singaporean is behind one of the year’s most talked-about new watches


A S$12,000 titanium dive watch called the Fromand, launched by Matthew de Bakker and his partners in Atelier Holgur, has caused a stir among the watch media and is a sold-out success.

Unlike many Singaporeans, I like watches. In particular, I enjoy diving watches. Like many fellow watch nerds, I keep up to date by reading a multitude of horological online media, always on the lookout for interesting pieces from brands I love or new watches to discover from new manufacturers.

Recently, a dive watch caught my eye. It was striking in how different it was from the multitude of divers released this year. As you can see, vintage designs have been popular for several years, but things have gone too far. What was once interesting has lapsed into, at least in my opinion, a far too pervasive trend of designing watches that look far too similar to other and often very iconic watches.

The Atelier Holgur Fromand is a breath of fresh air. While it bears the hallmarks of a diving watch, the design is strikingly modern.

In the various watch publications I read, the Fromand received mostly positive reviews, which helped the brand sell out of its first 100 pieces.

It surprised me to learn that it was a Singaporean watch company as I read more about it.

Asbjorn Simonen-Anderson and Ferdinand de Bakker, a respected business leader in the Lion City, co-founded Atelier Holgur with Dutch-Singaporean Matthew de Bakker.

Interested in learning more about Matthew and his watch brand, I contacted him.

Born in Belgium and raised in the Netherlands, the UK, Singapore and France, I moved to Singapore almost 13 years ago to finish university and have been working here ever since.

HOW DID YOU AND YOUR CO-FOUNDERS FIRST MEET? I understand you and your co-founders have known each other for years.

After high school, Asbjorn and I parted ways, with Asbjorn moving to Denmark and myself returning to Singapore. But we always remained in touch, and the Atelier Holgur project reunited us.

In the planning stage, my father Ferdinand (Ferry) joined as a co-founder. Among other things, he helped us connect with incredibly smart individuals who could advise us on finance and operations and provided us with guidance on the business side.


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