WATCH | Local self-taught watchmaker brings the past to the present with his designs

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  • Since 2019, self-taught watchmaker Kholofelo Masha has been breaking the mould through his intricate watch designs.
  • In the last two years, he has seen his brand grow from strength to strength, from making his first watch in a backroom in Soweto and later selling it to a client in Denmark.
  • The 31-year-old's timepieces are inspired by South Africa's rich history, which is evident in the watch designs.

When Kholofelo Masha was retrenched in Johannesburg, he moved back home to Limpopo to regroup.

With time on his hands, he started plotting his next move.

"That's where the hunger to have something unique and striking started. I thought about it. Everybody is doing this and that, so I decided to carve my way and go into watchmaking," the entrepreneur told News24.

Perfect timing

In 2018, two years after his departure, he moved back to the City of Gold to forge a new career path as a watchmaker.

"I started fiddling with the first few watches I could find on the market ... breaking them apart and finding out how they work. And from that type of research, the interest grew more and more."

Xesha watches
Xesha watches.

He worked on his craft for months – taking online courses and studying some of his favourite established brands' artistry and style.

And by January 2019, things were ticking.

Xesha is of the essence

With a renewed purpose, Masha founded Xesha South Africa, which creates and sells original timepieces.

Xesha's design, customisations and manufacturing, which feature intricate dial designs drawn from tribal patterns, set it apart, the self-taught watchmaker told News24.

"Through our watches, we are trying to tell our fellow Africans and the international market the stories of our history. Telling people where we come from as Africans."

Customised Xesha watches
Xesha watches are designed and customised to tell African stories and history.

One of Masha's favourite pieces is a series of watches that honour the legacy of the BaPedi king.

"One of my biggest highlights was when we launched our first watch when we started in April 2019, and we made the sale in Denmark. At the time, we didn't even have an online store, only a Facebook page. The lady in Denmark inboxed us, asking to buy the watch."

"Back then, I didn't even know how to export products from South Africa to another company abroad. She was kind enough to help us with the process. From that sale, things took off," he said.

Making timely strides

Masha has built a loyal following, and many of his designs have sold out, but the journey hasn't been easy. He said there were many times when he wanted to give up.

However, despite the challenges that made him question his path, he remained steadfast.

His operation moved from a small room in Soweto to a store and workshop in Midrand. He now has a thriving online store and international clients are seeking out his intricate designs.

Watches sold by Xesha South Africa
South African founded watch company, Xesha.

He has three employees who help him develop and sell his designs. On average, Xesha manufactures and sells about 15 to 20 watches in a month, retailing from R2 000 to R5 000.

The future is looking bright

The locally manufactured watch company has partnered with conglomerate companies like Nescafé Gold to craft one-of-a-kind pieces.

"We want to grow in the most organic way possible; everything has happened naturally."

"Even when Covid happened, one would think that would have been the last nail in the coffin, but we have always found ways to navigate things. We overcame our challenges one watch at a time," he said.

Masha is looking forward to having his watches in local and international watch stores soon.

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