The Watchmaker

A strange dichotomy plagues us Indians. Even as we harp on the superiority of indigenous
craftsmanship, we dither from lauding it in the same breath as foreign brands. An afternoon spent with Gaurav Mehta, the owner of Jaipur Watch Company, India's first luxury watchmaker, shed light on this predominant ‘but’ situation in the country's haute horology market.
The country’s first designer of bespoke watches, Mehta’s teenage fixation with old coins, medals and vintage bric-a-brac veered him towards watches. At 12, he could dismantle and reconstruct one like a pro. Owning 200 exquisite HMT timepieces, among other timeless labels, JWC creates some of most precious and technically sound horlogerie that are as covetable as the Cartiers and Omegas.
Even as we pen this, JWC’s pret collection of handcrafted watches are a sellout in the market. This collection consists of coin watches and Austrian Crystal Watches. They have also been working on bespoke gold watches. There are four types of antique coin watches created by Mehta’s label --- Imperial Wristwear, King’s Wristwear, Imperial Wristwear II (this has been introduced recently in the market) and the Titanium Wristwear (about to launch).
Harbouring the passion for numismatics since childhood. one day, Mehta did something that would eventually lay the foundation for his company. "I built quite a collection of British India coins. I also used to open up watches to see how they work and put them together again. One day, I fit a coin in one. When I wore the watch, it got a lot of attention," says Mehta, who has a master’s degree in Risk management from UK.
The company's collection of watches has an unmistakably royal touch; some have actual coins in them. Most of them are uncirculated coins (UNC), acquired to be used as a motif in watches. "The coins are 60-70 years old. They always have to be in an unused condition. I get UNCs from vendors, coin sellers and get them certified from senior numismatists. If there is a hint of scratch or damage they cannot be used.
JWC’s USP, as Mehta likes to believe, is the fact that it is the only place where one can find excellent
horology combined with numismatics in the form of the coin watches. “Our watches bring together ancient coins from the British era into the watch dials and the efficiency of a Swiss machine. Created with utmost care to ensure that we create memorabilia that is worth passing down generations, every coin in our watch collection undergoes a range of tests for authenticity and quality. We set out to create a fusion of the contemporary with the ancient.”
The company makes sure to make limited edition pieces. The designs are not repeated once one particular collection is sold out. Like the Imperial Wristwear, the watch that the company started with, was a 300 unit limited edition surgical grade stainless steel timepiece, consisting of four different variations. This collection is sold out.
JWC’s are bought by watch connoisseurs, people who are intrigued by a fine Indian Watch and people who have a heart for Indian History. “The second set of clients are those looking for something personalized and limited to one design. That is why they come for the bespoke watches.”
The coins are procured from numismatists, personal collectors and auctions all over the world. “Then we sift through to keep the best ones. This is the most time consuming process as we adopt a high rejection rate in order to ensure quality. It takes about a month or two to get the desired quantity and quality of coins,” says Mehta.
A lover of all things vintage and antique Mehta’s company is a strongly ‘Make in India’ initiative,
built to cater to the niche market. “I have been collecting HMT watches because I find them so elegant. Because of skewed up market mechanics such a beautiful watch company ceased to exist anymore. That is sad and also a learning on what not to do. Our watches are a product of innovation, with a subtle hint of tradition. We aim to provide bespoke luxury watches to connoisseurs, which will remain as their family heirloom,” ends Mehta on a positive note. 


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