Hello everyone, and welcome to another of my articles. Today, I’m covering the rise of Delugs, who is now one of the leading watch strap providers globally.

I’ve known Ken (founder of Delugs) for a long time – when Delugs was in its infancy, Ken reached out and asked if I could review some of its leather straps. That was over 5 years ago, and since then Delugs has fully transformed from David to the Goliath it is today. Ken’s wife, Pei – who was just named as one of Forbes’ 30 under 30 in the retail e-commerce category – has also joined him full-time in the business.

I’ve kept tabs on Delugs’ steady rise to prominence over the years – they have been featured by notable influencers (YoureTerrific, Minute Mon, Peter Kosta, and more), and media outlets (Fratello, Beans & Bezel, Revolution, etc). Delugs has also collaborated with notable independents such as Kudoke, Moritz Grossman, and Armin Strom. However, what caused me to take a closer look at Delugs was their meeting with Ed Sheeran, which has been heavily reported in mainstream media outlets such as The Straits Times, Channel News Asia, and Tatler Asia.

Ken passed Ed a Mathematics-themed watch box (which was handpainted by Pei) and even met Ed again during his second show in Singapore to size Delugs’ trademark CTS straps for Ed’s Patek Philippe 5230G World Time Piece Unique, which he promptly wore on stage afterwards. According to Ken, Ed relayed that he “really enjoyed the comfort of the strap”, and loved the leaf-spring clasp as “it’s a similar concept to the clasps on [Ed’s] Richard Mille watch straps”. Ed was also spotted wearing a different-coloured CTS Delugs strap during his stop in India (which suggests that he sized the strap and swapped it on his own) and has since reordered more from Delugs. That’s quite a scalp for Delugs – not many local brands can count international superstars as their customers.

However, it’s important to note that the meeting with Ed isn’t a one-time lucky break. Instead, it’s a culmination of Delugs’ community-building efforts, which it cultivates through events, often featuring notable watch personalities such as Verne Ho (@watchstudies on Instagram). Ken shared that he’s a big fan of Verne’s photography tips (particularly this guide on “Parrot” shots), and invited him to be a Creative Partner of the brand over a year ago. When Verne was in town earlier this year, Ken hosted a get-together to “give [Verne] a sense of what the watch community in Singapore is like”. It was Delugs’ strong ties with the watch community that led to the meeting with Ed – a watch sales advisor who was close to Ed saw Delugs’ Instagram shoutout, and put them in contact with the megastar.

To me, that’s Delugs’ secret sauce. There is no shortage of strap companies (even locally), but none possess the social media chops or the focus on community building that Delugs has devoted itself to. For example, Delugs has amassed a healthy international roster of “like-minded watch collectors” who rep Delugs straps on their luxury watches.

While Delugs isn’t shy about its Singaporean roots, it’s steadily extending its footprint internationally. Its ambassadors come from all corners of the globe – Verne is Canadian – and Delugs has been exhibiting themselves in international conventions too, most notably Geneva’s esteemed Watches & Wonders.

Delugs’ social media pages are filled with posts of its straps with six-figure watches (Ken himself wore a Romain Gaultier C3 during his meeting with Ed) so it’s easy to dismiss Delugs as an atas brand that targets the affluent. That would be an inaccurate take on the brand, which started as a bootstrapped side hustle operating out of Ken’s bedroom. Most of their offerings are actually meant for affordable watches – the first CTS straps were for the Tissot PRX, while the Elastic Loop and Delcro straps are popular options for the MoonSwatch. Delugs also participates in smaller-scale, microbrand-focused events, such as the WindUp Watch Fair in San Francisco, and Spring Sprang Sprung here in Singapore. More importantly, Delugs’ straps are still competitively priced, with regular leather offerings starting from a reasonable S$120.

Furthermore, Delugs makes an effort to reach out to the underserved segments of the watch community. Realising that its usual events (such as the abovementioned get-together with Verne) are often male-dominated, Delugs recently held a women-only event to commemorate International Women’s Day. By creating a safe space for female collectors to gather and mingle, Pei hopes to boost female interest in watches. This mindset is also reflected in Delugs’ offerings – its straps come in shorter lengths and smaller lug widths than usual, while its cushions (for strap rolls and boxes) are also smaller. The brand also has a wide range of colourways, including lighter pastel colours that were borne out of female demand.

I find Delugs’ outreach and community-building efforts highly commendable. Like in many sectors, females are underrepresented and often do not wish to participate in testosterone-plagued watch events (after once attending a Paneristi event, I can relate). I’m friends with several female watch collectors, who say they often feel unseen and unheard. One shared with me this anecdote: she once walked into an AD and the sales associate immediately pandered to the husband – even though she was wearing a watch and the husband wasn’t. Others also reflected that many believed women liked “blingy” watches, and that females cared more about the amount of diamonds rather than the mechanical watchmaking behind the timepieces. It’s clear that female collectors need more visibility, and I’m heartened that Delugs is helping to make watch collecting more inclusive. In this traditionally male and upper-class-dominated hobby, diversity is sorely needed.

It wasn’t always smooth sailing for Delugs, as it had to previously battle obstacles such as cease-and-desist letters and bad reviews on watch forums. Yet, the brand always addresses these issues instead of sweeping them under the rug (Ken will often post a response) and utilizes the feedback to develop better products and policies. I appreciate the transparency – for example, Delugs just sent a newsletter last week, informing its customers that it would be revising prices upwards starting 21st May due to rising costs. To mitigate this, the brand is offering a Mid-Year Sale until the 20th of May with 20% off storewide, allowing customers to fulfil their short-term strap needs before prices increase. Since its founding in 2018, Delugs has developed a great relationship with its customers, and it is this loyal community that has propelled its growth to become the industry leader it is today.

When I first met Ken in 2019, he relayed that he wanted to make strap-changing a lifestyle. 5 years on, I believe Delugs has accomplished that goal and then some. I’m proud of Ken for putting Singapore on the map – I see Delugs as the SecretLab of watch straps – and can’t wait to see how they will grow further.

View the full range of Delugs’ offerings here. Use code “MYS-2024” for 20% off all Delugs items storewide, until 20th May.

Read my recent review of Delugs’ accessories here.

Delugs Showroom Location: 55 Ubi Ave 1, #06-16, Singapore 408935

All photos courtesy of Delugs.

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