You can say that watchmaking is in Amir Meghani’s blood. The young entrepreneur, who founded JBW (Just Bling Watch) in 2008, hails from a family of horologists—his father and grandfather revolutionized the watch industry in Dubai, before moving to America in the 1990s with hopes of extending the family business. To mark the brand’s 10th anniversary, Vogue Man Arabia caught up with Meghani to discuss how he went from gifting free watches at local concerts to boasting the highest-selling brand of timepieces in the region.
Where does your relationship with watches trace back to?
Amir Meghani: “My family has been in the watch business since the 1950s. My grandfather, who is originally from India, used to sell watches back in the day with his brothers, from 1952 to 1958. In the 1960s, he moved to Dubai where he and his brothers opened up a watch shop. Meanwhile, my father became the distributor for Casio in Pakistan in 1980, and then in 1990 he decided to move our family from Pakistan to the United States. My grandfather also shut down his business in Dubai and we all moved to Dallas, which is where we’re currently based. When I graduated university, I started working for my father—at the time, he had a wholesale shop where he would sell other brands —and I took the initiative to start our brand, JBW, in 2008.”
What was the exact moment you knew you wanted to launch JBW?
AM: “I was working with my dad at the shop, and there were these local Dallas-based rappers and musicians that would come in looking for diamond watches. At the time, big, flashy diamond watches were all the rage in the United States, and rap culture was continuing to rise. I would tell them, ‘Of course I can hook it up, I can make it happen for you’. I bought a design from another company that I found online, then sent the design over to a manufacturer. We had 300 watches made, named them JBW, brought them in, and just started selling them.”
Did you face any challenges along the way?
AM: “So many. The manufacturers that were making our watches were based in Los Angeles, and they tried to trademark the brand. We were essentially in a lawsuit with our own manufacturer, and it was almost a two-year process for us to win the trademark from this dispute. Another challenge we faced was actually selling the watches. It wasn’t easy at first. I would go to any local concert in Dallas that I could get myself into, and just gift the rappers, athletes, or any celebrities one of our watches. It was a very grassroots style of marketing at the beginning.”
What about the highlights?
AM: “We’ve been selling to the Middle East for six years, and we broke through into the Saudi market two years ago through an e-commerce partner and, actually, since we’ve started selling watches in the Saudi market, our brand has kind of exploded. The Middle East represents a third of our business overall. So I think the Saudi audience really feeling a connection to the designs and the brand, it’s been huge for us.”
In terms of your designs, what inspires you?
AM: “Definitely travel. We have a travel collection with a couple of designs, a standout one is called the Jet-Setter and it has five time zones. As far as the design process goes, I sit down with our designers and we try to bring something different to the market. I really like to look at luxury houses for inspiration, like Chanel, Louis Vuitton, and Gucci. We’re definitely keeping our eyes on the runways, to keep up with trends.”
Where do you hope to see the brand in the next five to 10 years?
AM: “I’d like to continue to grow in the United States, as well as here in the Middle East. We also want to be able to cross over to other key markets in Europe as well. From a design standpoint, we are looking to introduce more collections with higher diamond embellishments. Right now, our top piece has five and a half carats of diamonds, so we want to be able to beat that.”
If you weren’t in the business of horology, what would you be doing?
AM: “Something related to creativity. There’s no way I could do something that is process oriented or operational. I just need to have a free mind and the freedom to be able to create whatever is in my mind. It’s in my blood, and the blood of my family.”