How Yuki Srikarnchana Sped Up The World Of Time
It would be an under-statement to say that Yuki Srikarnchana is a captivating woman. Blessed with an abundance of talent, she is the managing director of luxury watch distributor Pendulum, as well as an accomplished chef and the force behind the successful Thai restaurant group, Nara. Having spent most of her childhood growing up overseas, she pursued a degree in drama and theatre arts in the UK before returning to Thailand.
“When I first came back, I started off as an intern at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel before moving to work full-time at Bangkok Bank. Following a two-year stint there, an opportunity came around to join the newly established Shangri-La Hotel, where I worked as a member of the marketing department. I then moved to the advertising firm Leo Burnett, where I was responsible for account services,” she says. Not long after this she met husband Chula-payap, CEO of Asia Insurance, and had the first of their three daughters.
A pioneer in Thailand’s nascent haute horology scene some 30 years ago, Yuki was one of the first to introduce the concept of a multi-brand watch store to the country. “Back in the late 1980s the market for timepieces was not as clear-cut as today and most of the top watch brands were sold out of diamond and jewellery stores. Multi-brand stores like those in Europe and maturer Asian markets such as Hong Kong and Singapore didn’t really exist here,” she says. Hence when she was sounded out by three aspiring businessmen with a passion for timepieces—Chutinant Bhirombhakdi, Dr Chatchawin Charoen-Rajapark and ML Chayotid Kridakon—with a view to establishing a dedicated outlet called Pendulum for retailing high-end watches in partnership with Sincere Fine Watches, an industry specialist from Singapore, she jumped at the chance. “In fact, I was approached by Daranee, the wife of Dr Chatchawin, who asked if I wanted to get back to work. My eldest daughter, Apinara, was only two years old while my second daughter, Pimpayap was still a baby, but it was something I really wanted to do,” she explains.
At a time when the world of horology in Thailand was male-dominated, Pendulum was a refreshing newcomer with aspiring businesswomen Yuki and Mondakhan Kridakon, ML Chayotid’s wife, at the helm. Opening its doors in November 1992 at the Peninsula Plaza, the store initially had five brands in its portfolio. Today it is an exclusive distributor for iconic brands such as A Lange & Söhne, Breitling, Franck Muller, Panerai, Nomos Glashütte, Vacheron Constantin, Zenith and H Moser & Cie. “Back then most of the watches tended to be associated with jewellery, hence Pendulum became a good alternative to what was already being offered in the market. In essence, we specialise in the sort of watches enjoyed by aficionados—so the focus is mainly on mechanical movements. Many of the clientele in the early days were young men with an interest in the actual mechanics of the watches,” she smiles. “However, women and younger customers in their early 20s are also now becoming much more interested in the provenance and workings of high-quality watches.”
In addition to Pendulum, Yuki also has a strong passion for the culinary arts and is the founder of the Nara chain of Thai restaurants, which has expanded to include a number of outlets overseas. A point of pride for the mother of three is that younger daughters Pimpayap and Ploypayap help out with the business while her eldest, Apinara, is a founder of U Drink I Drive, a personal driver service that seeks to tackle the scourge of drink-driving in Bangkok.
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