Started company by selling his car, this manufacturer today sells 1,700 luxury watches a year
Gaurav Mehta is an 'accidental' watch manufacturer. After obtaining a master’s degree in risk management from the UK, he ran an insurance brokerage firm for some time. However, after he failed to find satisfaction in what he was doing, he returned to his original passion — watches and coins. Since childhood, he was very fond of watches and collected coins as a hobby.
Combining both these interests, Gaurav started thein 2013. Headquartered in Jaipur, the luxury watch brand combines luxury and tradition in manufacturing watches using craftsmanship from coins collected from the British era.
Gaurav Mehta, Founder, Jaipur Watch Company
A risky beginning
Gaurav’s father is a chartered accountant and his family did not have any experience in manufacturing. However, Gaurav was determined to pursue his dream.
He says, “I am self-taught in a way that I used to unwind my own watches and try to understand how the various components functioned.”
Sharing how his business journey began, Gaurav says, “This business was purely started out of passion. I was stupid to not do the initial calculation and take stock of the risks associated with entering a crowded market.”
Gaurav says his father was unhappy with his choice and did not support him financially. “I started the company with Rs 30 lakh that came from selling my car and by borrowing from friends.”
Thereafter, Gaurav set up his manufacturing unit in Bengaluru. Setting up a unit in the tech hub of India eased the manufacturing process of creating luxury watches, majorly in the gold bespoke category. The raw materials are sourced from different places and countries. The movements of the watch come from Japan and Switzerland, the crystal is sourced from Hong Kong, the straps, bracelets, dials, cases, and crowns are either bought locally or manufactured in-house.
Bespoke Veena Watch
The bumpy ride
As a first-generation entrepreneur, Gaurav had to face several challenges. The first was to fulfill working capital needs since this industry is highly capital-intensive. The second challenge was to create a strong network within the industry by getting the right people for the right job. The third was to enter luxury watch segment which was not a very big idea in India.
He shares, “I got into manufacturing and not trading which is less capital intensive. But I was determined to ride along the ‘Make in India’ path.”
Gaurav adds that a lot of research and travel helped him in overcoming these challenges. Research and travel helped him in understanding the market, getting the best machines for production and identifying the right people who could take up responsibilities in running the various verticals of the business.
When the product was ready, Gaurav started selling on an ecommerce platform — Tata Cliq Luxury. And then by leveraging digital marketing, he says a lot of initial sales came from social media platform — Facebook.
Today, he is proud of his decision and the numbers speak for themselves. He shares, “In 2018-19, we sold 1,200 watches, while 2019-20 saw a 40 percent increase as we managed to sell about 1,700 watches.”
Gaurav says that JWC is an experience brand and the brick and mortar setup is paramount for the business. The company has one retail store in Delhi’s Select City Walk. It has eight retail touch points in the form of indirect sellers including Tijori, the in-house brand of luxury hotel, The Oberoi. JWC was also retailing earlier at Khazana, the in-house brand of the Taj Hotels.
An evolving industry
Gaurav says that the Indian watch industry is an evolving industry and has a market size of Rs 10,000 crore. One trend that he has observed is how the demand for the size of the watch keeps changing at different points in time.
“One unmissable trend that I have observed is that the size of the watch keeps changing irrespective of the style. We started selling small watches of 39 mm size. They did well within one and a half years. Then customers started asking for bigger watches and we introduced a line of 43 mm size. And then came the demand to manufacture and create even bigger sizes of watches.”
Gaurav says that the trend has come full circle as people have started demanding watches of smaller sizes again which will be launched by the brand soon.
On the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, Gaurav says that initially the announcement of the lockdown brought some anxiety but soon he shifted his focus on chalking out strategies to ensure that the business is not doomed.
“If the lockdown would not have been imposed then the infected cases would have been in lakhs or crores by now. Apart from cutting down on manufacturing expenses, we are also planning to reach out to some Switzerland-based companies and roll out the proposal of manufacturing components of watches for them."
(Edited by Javed Gaihlot)