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May 26, 2024

Gaurav Mehta: ‘Smart watches haven’t effected luxury watchmaking’

For those in the know, Jaipur Watch Company is a unique proposition. A company that is fuelled by its founder Gaurav Mehta’s interest in vintage stamps and coin collections, the watches made by them are a testament to India’s diverse history in luxury heirlooms. Take their latest collection for instance, called Baagh 2. It is a powerful token that represents India’s pre-independence period. Each timepiece features a collectible Quarter Rupee Bagh Coin from the year 1947.We recently caught up with Mehta in a freewheeling conversation on his company, his extensive collections, and the path ahead for Indian watchmakers in the horological space.

Gaurav Mehta – Director Jaipur Watch Company

 

Tell us about your treasured stamp collection. Were you fascinated by them since childhood?

I’ve been doing watches with coins for a while now. My hobby of stamp collecting, and watches with coins go hand-in-hand. Even if you see the auction catalogues, if you see the exhibitions also, they all carry some elements of crucial stamps. Stamps have always fascinated me, for the simple reason that there are so many subjects that are covered by stamps.  It can be on animals, it can be on defence, it can be on sports, whatever you name. It’s much more easier now to come up with a stamp, with the ease of printing now.

I wanted to make stamps more liveable. Especially when you have them in albums, they’re hidden away in almirahs, only visible when you take them out, on a watch, they’re visible at all times.

 

What is the oldest stamp that you have collected?

We have made a watch using Penny black. Penny Black happens to be the first commercial postal stamp of the world. It came out on May 1, 1840. We have only made them on order since they are expensive. So far we have made two of them, however, we have five more Penny Blacks with me, depending on the demand, they will be converted into watches as well.

Penny Black Stamp Watch Collection- Jaipur Watch Company

How old were you when you started collecting stamps?

When we were young, we didn’t have the phone so we were forced to build traditional hobbies. I won’t say I had a collection, but I had a box that had coins from different eras. Later, when I met a senior collector, who happened to be my sister’s father-in-law, when I went to him and showed him my coins, he dismissed it saying this is all junk; you need to define your collection. That is when I realized I needed to build a collection based on a theme rather than whatever I liked or saw.

How often do you collect now?

I still collect now, for two different reasons now. Firstly, it’s a commercial need, depending on whether we are coming up with a collection or a particular design, in order to make that design viable, I need to get a certain number of coins. That is a scouting exercise for me. Not like I can go to one shop or store and place an order for 300 coins. You need to procure them, do a strict quality check, and then if I like something out of pure passion, I will of course, go and procure that.

Earlier you used to get these bank tokens. They would determine when your turn comes. I bought some of those, then a World War II medal for myself.

Are your customers history buffs and hence attracted to the watches?

Not all of them are history buffs, I would say. But majority of clients are those who appreciate Indian fine art, are looking for something that is unique, and those are people who already have a lot of brands with them but are now looking for something that is unique and only accessible to them.

Is Indian watchmaking being taken note of at an international level?

I would put it in a more generalized fashion, Indian homegrown luxury is on the rise right now, people are taking it very seriously, not just in India, but globally as well. I was the first micro-luxury brand that started in India. We are only ten years old. Our global counterparts in watchmaking have legacies that are centuries old. We are just a one-decade old company. It is a little early to pronounce that the world is taking note of us. Of course we are available at all the important places – Rambagh palace, for instance, seven Oberoi properties and three-four Taj  properties.

The audience that is buying a well-crafted chronograph by a Swiss company is the same audience that is buying one from Jaipur Watch Company?

The people who are into deep mechanics and technology behind the product, those who are super watch enthusiasts, know what they’re looking for, will always look for brands that have in-house movements. Right now, we are buying movements from Japan and Switzerland. A serious watchmaker will buy a watch as a collector’s edition.

Is this something Jaipur Watch Company has in mind for the future?

I am in talks with independent movement manufacturers, for something along those lines. If not a full-blown movement made by us, then a customized movement for us is something you can expect from us.

What are your favourite watch companies, and what do you look for in a watch?

I collect primarily two brands – HMTs and winded Omegas. These are two of my favourite brands. But I also buy watches which I like – those may be from modern brands as well. I have 400 plus watches!

What’s your take on electronic watches?

Those are gadgets, not watches. Anything that requires charging is not a watch. There’s definitely a market of smart watches, but they have captured the below 10,000 rupees market. There’s hardly a dent in the luxury market. Those customers might be buying luxury watches as well.

 

 

 

Payel Majumdar Upreti

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