‘We want to empower our customers to create their own success and show it!’
As a newcomer to his family’s long-established watch business, Amir Meghani decided he didn’t want to sell other people’s brands. His vision was to create a new, eye catching watch which would leave a statement on the wrist. The rest, as they say, is history!
Hi, please introduce yourself to our readers.
My name is Amir Meghani and I am the CEO and founder of JBW – a luxury diamond watch company based in Dallas, Texas.
Tell us about your education.
I studied at New York University (NYU) and graduated with an Economics Degree.
What key lessons did you learn working in the business of luxury watches?
First, it takes time to build a luxury watch brand. Most brands in the space have been around for over 100 years. Second, respect the brands who have paved the way for an independent watch brand like mine to thrive and grow. Last, discover your identity and stay true to who you are – it’s the only way to stand out from all the other brands in the space.
Where did your love of watches start?
I am third generation in the watch business. It started with my grandfather in 1952. However, I did not know I was going to work in watches even though my family has been plugged to the industry for so long. I never saw it as a real opportunity because in each generation, nothing felt like it had a big future or there was a legacy being built. I was somewhat forced to work for my father right out of college out of a need for help vs a desire to do something with his watch shop. 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 – from the manufacturing, product design and inspiration, marketing, human capital, after sales service and operations. We’ve done it all ourselves. It’s truly been a journey. Now we are in a very exciting phase of our business. We are confident in our product and brand offering. It’s our own niche and we are taking it to the world, sharing what we are building out of our JBW design studio in Dallas.
What drove you to want to start your own watch brand?
It all happened by chance. I was 22 years old and working at my father’s watch shop in a wholesale district of Dallas. At that time we were traders, buying and selling fashion and designer watch brands. In my first year of working in the business I told my father, we are not selling other peoples brands forever. With no background in branding, manufacturing or design my father was completely against the idea of creating our own brand. It became an afterthought. 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 – 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 need and I ordered two of them. A few days later they came in. I sent one to a manufacturer in LA we had worked with in the past and said ‘Make me three hundred more of these’. One hundred days later my watches came in, and that was the start of JBW. No prototype, no product design, no logo design, nothing – I had no idea what I was doing. I started going to every rap concert, finding my way backstage and gifting artists with JBWs and snapping photos with them. I made friends with the radio personalities of Dallas and anyone else who could connect me to a famous musician or athlete. JBW’s marketing budget was my time and the watches, that’s it. This was the start of my education into building a brand. Eventually we launched a website – pre-squarespace and shopify. This was before social media was important to brands. Back then it wasn’t easy sharing your brand online, you needed to write code, have a developer, make catalogues, go to tradeshows, visit your customers one by one (the traditional marketing channels).
Fast forward nine years, we now have an experienced design team in house, a full product line, distribution channels and a true understanding of our brand and the customer. It’s always evolving but we are on the pulse of their desires and needs when it comes to accessorizing their style with a watch.
What was the inspiration behind keeping diamonds as the DNA of your designs?
I started JBW in the late 2000s when diamonds, gold and flash were the rave of rappers and culture – all of them wanted expensive jewellery and watches from their jewelers. At first, I thought I could be the iconic watch man of all the Dallas-based diamond watch enthusiasts. Quite ambitious for a 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.
Today we are an entry-level luxury diamond watch brand. At the core, we are out to make a bold statement in everything we do and it starts with our unique diamond watch designs. We want to empower our customers to create their own success and show it! We provide them with an attainable luxury watch that serves as a symbol of that success. We have boundless confidence and are constantly striving for a higher-class status and hope to inspire our customers to do the same.
Would you do anything differently if you were to start the business again?
Well, perhaps alongside e-commerce, we could have also started distributing to physical retailers back when we started out. But, to be honest, we consciously and strictly focused on the e-commerce platform and worked with online retailers in the U.S. So, to answer your question, I don’t think we would do anything different given the same set of circumstances.
You seem to have a very relaxed and friendly approach to doing business. Does this come naturally to you and have you had any business mentors along the way?
My relaxed approach has refined over time. I am ten years into the watch business and I have seen the ups and downs of building a brand. For me, it ultimately comes down to confidence and perseverance; a firm belief and trust in what you are doing and knowing that any challenge or setback is part of the process of growing. With that understanding, I remain calm and enjoy what we are doing.
As the founder and CEO of a company, is it still important to keep work/life balance?
Yes, of course. When I was younger all I did was work. As our company has evolved we have built into the culture a work/life balance. It’s about the quality of productivity not quantity. As things get accomplished at work it’s important to take your personal time to enjoy family, hobbies, health, etc.
What do you like to do when you’re not working?
Play futbol, spend time with family and travel.
What is your all-time favourite watch from your collection?
Strider in gold. It’s our most classic and modern designed diamond watch. I am not as loud as some of our customers, so my favourite is a more understated look. That’s the beauty of JBW and the versatility of our collections.
What’s on the horizon for JBW in the coming years?
Hopefully, opening our first ever flagship store and a larger collection of watches that expands into more complicated designs and diamond embellishments unseen in the market. We are working on some very exciting product innovations which are going to push our brand forward into the next decade. Can’t wait!
Also, we’re working on our 10 year anniversary campaign and we’re trying to come up with a unique way to bring that story to life and make it very relevant to today and the history of where it came from.
What would be the definition of a beautiful watch?
A watch that makes a statement.
Please share some interesting figures about JBW:
In a short period of time we have sold over 50,000 JBW watches in the Middle East region. Our pace of growth is accelerating every year. It’s so exciting to be pushing our growth in this region.
What watch are you wearing today?
Phantom in gold.