Watchmaker Vuyani Dondolo is obsessed with watches and confesses that at some point, most of his money was spent on timepieces. Dondolo’s fascination centres on how something so small can be so complex, and that watches are essentially an extension of a person’s clothing and personality.
Dondolo told Vutivi News that his journey with watches began when he was studying. “While I was at university, I interned at a jewellery store and I engaged in the maintenance of watches, and that is where my love for watches took root,” he said. “My business started when I decided to make my own watch purely for the sake of wanting to do something different. Someone I know liked it and bought it right from my wrist and that is when I saw that I was onto something.”
And this was when the Dondolo Timepiece was born. Dondolo, who is from Kimberley, started trading informally in 2018 and registered the business in 2019. He designs and manufactures two kinds of watches for men, and one for women. He plans on designing a new watch that is gender-neutral.
But it has been a rocky road for the watchmaker. “Being in this industry is especially difficult because it is dominated by white people, and it is difficult to get the guidance,” he said. “At times I would struggle with a specific design and I would not be able to get assistance and mentorship because not a lot of black people are in this industry. I had to learn a lot on my own.”
However, his watches are now purchased by customers from across the country, and Dondolo believes his struggles have been worth it. “I never thought that I would one day have a watchmaking business as I studied construction in university,” he said. “I love watches so much that I remember one time I was unemployed and was in a really bad space. I saw this beautiful watch and decided to lay by the watch because I thought that having it would make me feel so much better.”
Dondolo said though that meeting his idols and getting their guidance had been an unforgettable part of his journey as an entrepreneur. “Meeting the likes of entrepreneur and motivational speaker Vusi Thembekwayo and musician ProVerb was very humbling, especially considering how their experiences and conversations with them have been very informative,” he told Vutivi News.
“Coming from Kimberley this means a lot,” Dondolo said that he hoped his watches would compete with international brands in the future.