Amir Meghani was 22-years-old when he first started working for his family’s watch business. He’s since launched JBW, an American-based brand that creates luxury diamond timepieces, which are designed for enthusiasts who like bold and boundary-breaking models that boast 18-karat gold and real calfskin leathers.
Here, MOJEHMEN talks to the entrepreneur about his journey to success.
Tell us about how you got into the watch business.
Originally my grandfather sold watch bands in the 1950s in India. Eventually he moved to Dubai in 1968 and opened a total of four retail watch shops. Later, my father was the distributor for CASIO in Pakistan in the ‘80s. He moved our family to the USA in the early ‘90s and became a watch trader – buying and selling other brands.
Have you always wanted to pursue a career in horology?
I have an economics degree from New York University. My first work experience was in the family business, starting JBW is my professional education. Honestly, I did not know I was going to work in watches even though my family has been plugged to the industry for so long.
Was going into the family business the right decision?
Looking back, it was the best thing that happened to my family and our business. I have learned so much about watches, my family’s roots in the industry, building a brand and a company. My sister and I have spent the past decade educating ourselves about all aspects of building a watch brand. We’ve done it all ourselves, it's truly been a journey.
When did you decide to establish JBW?
It all happened by chance. I was 22-years-old and working at my father’s watch shop in a wholesale district of Dallas, Texas. At that time we were traders, buying and selling fashion and designer watch brands.
One day a local rapper and his manager came into our shop looking for a watch to wear in his new music video. We didn’t have what he was looking for, which was something large, gold and blingy. But the hustler mentality in me asked him what he wanted and to show me photos of what he was looking for. I was able to find a watch from our supplier sources in New York that fit his needs, and I ordered two of them. A few days later they came in and bought this watch. I sent the other one to a manufacturer in LA we had worked with in the past and I said, 'Make me 300 more of these'. 100 days later my watches came in, and that was the start of JBW.
What inspired your designs?
It was the early 2000s [when JBW was first established] and diamonds, gold and flash were the rave of rappers and culture – all of them made expensive jewellery and watches from their jewellers. At first, I thought I could be the iconic watch man of all the Dallas-based diamond watch enthusiasts. Quite ambitious for 22-year-old without a brand, zero experience in diamonds or manufacturing watches. This mentality is what defined JBW; it was different, bold and unafraid.
Tell us about the brand’s success in the States and Europe?
The States is our home base, it is going very well here. We have a unique product, a growing collection and retailers who are very interested in our valuable offering. In Europe, our business is mainly through our website, and we have a lot of interest from France and the UK.
How do Middle Eastern tastes differ in comparison to the rest of the world?
In the Middle East they desire exclusivity and statement-making pieces. As a brand we offer statement-making watches in all our collections, but the bolder the better for the Middle East. The rest of the world isn't as keen on the exclusivity, and they are a bit more price-conscious in the US.
What particular pieces have proven to be successful in the Middle East?
Our best-selling collections are: Jet Setter, G3, Cristal and Mondrian.