In My Experience… Gaurav Mehta, Founder and CEO, Jaipur Watch Company
* Gaurav Mehta started the brand in 2013 as a small brand before foraying into bespoke watches.
* In the beginning, he had a lot of trouble convincing people as to why Indian brand’s watches cost so much.
* He created his own retail space by selling his watches through luxury hotels.
* This helped the brand to gain media coverage and celebrity clients as well.
* You’ll probably be building stories for future generations, is Mehta’s advice to new entrepreneurs.
The Indian luxury market was long in the shadow of its Western counterpart. Change is afoot and some Western brands, despite having a long legacy, are now facing stiff competition from newer Indian brands that are giving the Indian luxury market the recognition it deserves.
The Jaipur Watch Company is among the pioneers. The nine-year-old company, started by Gaurav Mehta, is India’s first luxury bespoke watch company that has triumphed in a market ruled by Swiss watches. In this interview, he speaks about the brand’s origins, the Indian aesthetic the brand follows and the challenges of being an Indian luxury brand.
Q: Can you take us through your journey of launching India’s first bespoke watch brand?
A: This company was started in 2013. The idea was never to create a bespoke brand. It started because we were a small brand. The focus was on making watches based on antique coins and art. The idea came when I was speaking to clients and giving suggestions. Clients can take certain liberties in this respect and would ask for certain specifications. The thought arose then that people wanted watches tailored to their needs.
Q: The brand creates watches inspired by Indian elements and arts. How has the brand managed to strike a balance between Indian inspiration and modern sensibilities to be a globally demanded product?
A: There was no deliberate attempt to make our watches relevant to the global market. Our design philosophy very strongly resonates with Indian sensibilities and has universal appeal. Pichwai is not just limited to India and is a popular art form. Coins have their own history because they are British-Indian coins. Peacock feathers are very popular as a design element across the globe. Hence it is natural that the brand falls between Indian and global aesthetics.
Q: How did the brand focus on finding its target market in a market dominated by the Swiss watch industry?
A: Age group was something that was clear to us from the beginning. We focus on clients over 25. There has to be some maturity when you’re buying, say a coin watch. There has to be some education or a story behind the watch. That interest only develops after 25 years of age. These watches are very popular as gifts. Only a similar age group can afford to gift these watches.
Q: What efforts has the brand made to position itself in the luxury market?
A: We are still in the process of establishing my brand as a luxury brand. For me, it was more difficult because when I started there was no concept of Indian luxury watch brands. Indian watch brands present then were known to mass-produce watches. The idea of creating a limited number of watches a year was a new concept. Clients would ask me why my watches were so expensive despite being an Indian brand. When I approached some multi-brand watch stores to sell my watches, I got the same response they did not want to sell them.
Back in 2013 e-commerce stores were not popular. I went to luxury hotels and told them about my product. They happily accepted and I got an alternate retail space. The brand got media coverage soon after and then some celebrity clients.
Even now I face the same challenge. I want my brand to be known as an Indian luxury watch brand.
Q: How important is customer education necessary, especially for an Indian consumer?
A: It was easy for me. I was the salesperson and the CEO of the company so I could take all the decisions. I was interacting with the clients and I would educate them. How we positioned ourselves in hotels was important. Nobody is going to challenge the prices in luxury hotels. There was validation which gave us confidence.
Being a small company, the advantage is that a lot of clients are like family because I have been interacting with them for years. These clients will surely buy my watches and that gives more validation.
Q: Does the brand practice sustainability? Is being small helpful in this mass world?
A: There are two aspects to it. Firstly, we do very small collections. Bespoke watches are one of a kind so naturally, only one of them is made. This automatically brings down wastage and the materials used. Secondly, we’re working on elements such as plant-based leather for our watch straps and not using plastic in our packaging. We intend to take this forward by incorporating more materials and adhering to sustainable principles strictly.
Q: What advice would you give to an entrepreneur wanting to get into the luxury world today?
A: India has a lot of stories and is a young country. There are western luxury brands that have a legacy of more than a hundred years, so give us some more time and we’ll have our own stories.
You enter now and you’ll probably be building stories for future generations. This is the best time to enter as there is a lot of demand for Indian products. Maintain the utmost quality and always stay in the game without giving up.
The Jaipur Watch Company has gained a number of celebrity clients, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The brand’s unique aesthetic and celebration of the country’s rich heritage will make sure this brand can withstand the test of time.
To watch the full conversation with Gaurav click here and go to our YouTube channel.