Jacob Arabo has been in the jewellery business for 33 years and launched his first watch under the Jacob & Co. brand in 2001.
How was Basel?
Basel was amazing! We had a great reception for the watches and people welcomed the new Billionaire watch, which has opened up new doors for us and been a great success. I was finally able to realize a watch that I had always wanted to produce.
You are heavily involved in all stages of the watchmaking process, from the initial design right up to selling the finished products yourself in your store. This top-down approach is quite unusual at a luxury brand, how do you manage it?
My philosophy is all or nothing. I have a great team working for me and they all know what they are doing in terms of the precious stones side of things and the movement. But still, I come here [to the headquarters in Plan-les-Ouates] once a month for a week and I Skype the team almost every day.
Looking at the Jacob & Co. collection, it covers everything from the Ghost models to the Billionaire watch and in between. Where does the inspiration for all this come from?
I’m a single man but also a brand. I don’t have to ask anyone for permission, so the inspiration could be anything. It’s my vision and the way I see it is the way we do it. Sometimes my employees are against my ideas because they think it is impossible but in the end they agree with me because the result is amazing. Yes, it’s difficult but I don’t like easy jobs.
The inspiration I get and the reason I have such a broad collection is because I want to satisfy a student in college with the Ghost watch right up to the moment when they later become a billionaire with the Billionaire watch. Other than that, I don’t follow any particular rules. I’m creating a Jacob & Co lifestyle.
What are the challenges in terms of distribution for such a broad-based collection? Do your stores tend to choose models according to their local tastes?
Our objective is to maintain a global identity, by sustaining our retailers and distributors. In order to do so, we need to have the broadest collection possible. It takes time to get a response from the market. With time, they will feel comfortable investing in high end watches. As an example, we have several stores that have invested in Astronomia and Tourbillon Baguette watches.
How limited is your production, especially as far as the more expensive models are concerned?
We have a range of high end watches in order to satisfy immediate demand which is unique for the watch industry.
For the Astronomia models, demand is around 20 times greater than what we can deliver. So we are actually taking orders now to be delivered at the end of the year. It’s impossible to make such movements so fast – everything is hand made.
Can you sum up the brand in three words?
In three words, the way I see it, we are about fun, lifestyle and we are unique.
Have you ever had a project that you were unable to realize?
We took a big chance with the Astronomia but it worked out in the end. I love to create. The diamond on the Astronomia is 288 facets, whereas a diamond normally has 57 facets. This has never been done before. It is the Jacob diamond and it has been patented by us. It took us several months just to do the study on how to cut it.
I took a chance and we did it. Now we can watch it grow.