How Australia’s first and only watch manufacturer has stood the test of time

In a studio at the heart of Sydney’s CBD, you’ll find Australia’s first and only watch manufacturer, Nick Hacko. His business, ‘Nicholas Hacko Watches’ was born out of humble beginnings 25 years ago and has stood the test of time through one simple mission; to ensure the survival of an independent Australian watchmaker.

“We needed to create a product and project to keep us going and create enough job opportunities to remain in business. Otherwise if we just kept repairing watches, there’s no future. If you have a Rolex watch for example, you’ll go to Rolex to fix it.”

As a third-generation watchmaker, Nick was forging a very different career path in his mission to make the first Australian-made watch, and in doing so, creating his own unique brand.  

Gillespie is looking to expand his business

Customer service: Timeless

Being the first watchmaker to mass-manufacture watch components in Australia required an enormous investment in specialised machinery and precision tools.

“We couldn’t call someone to ask for advice or to ask what kind of machinery we should import or what is the best way to harden steel. There is no watchmaking industry. We are really pleased we’ve reached a stage where we’re actually making components in Australia.” 

When Nick started sourcing his materials from overseas (Switzerland, Germany and Japan), he signed up with OFX. 

“You guys [OFX] were an integral part, we had to trust you blind. We trusted you with all our savings and I had to make that decision of who do I trust – what if something goes wrong? What if the money goes into the wrong account? What would happen then?”

“The future is going to be different, you have to figure out what people want and do that.”

Nicholas Hacko, a third-generation watchmaker. The times they are a-changin The times they are a-changin The times they are a-changin  

Matt Gillespie

Operating across borders

For the majority of small businesses, transferring money overseas can be a very daunting process. Trust underpins every service, but none more so than financial services. At the heart of OFX, we are always striving to build and maintain this trust by marrying human touch with great technology, through personalised service and 24/7 customer and dealer support. 

“I feel like Matt (OFX Corporate Dealer) knows me and I like to think I know him well too. There is a consistency and trust in the way you do your business. Are you guys the cheapest and best in the world? That’s irrelevant. What’s relevant is I feel really confident doing business with you.”  

Nick has been a long-term customer of OFX, which he credits to the consistently good service and reassuring communication. 

“Banks love the convenience of not dealing with customers and online transfers, but they’re too slow to realise that they can’t charge as much as they do for that kind of service because where is the value in that?” 

“You have to be sure someone understands what you want to do. These are important things for small businesses, there has to be someone out there like us who is new to forex, who is new to the whole concept of sending money overseas.”

Matt Gillespie snowboarding in Hakuba

The times they are a-changin

Nick Hacko’s grandfather fixed pocket watches. His father built his career on the “throw-away”, battery operated watches. Nick’s story is very different. It’s a story of watchmaking and manufacturing coming together to create a unique brand. 

As a fourth-generation watchmaker, Josh Hacko (Nick Hacko’s son, pictured right) will have a completely different challenge.   “Most likely in five or ten years’ time, you won’t even need your iPhone to tell the time. The future is going to be different, you have to figure out what people want and do that. But you still must be relevant. The way we do business now, in 20 years’ time it’s not going to look like this.”

IMPORTANT: The contents of this blog do not constitute financial advice and are provided for general information purposes only without taking into account the investment objectives, financial situation and particular needs of any particular person. UKForex Limited (trading as “OFX”) and its affiliates make no recommendation as to the merits of any financial strategy or product referred to in the blog. OFX makes no warranty, express or implied, concerning the suitability, completeness, quality or exactness of the information and models provided in this blog.

What the FX? Catch up on the latest market news.