While growing up, Gaurav Mehta had more broken toys around him than those he could play with. It wasn’t like he was careless with them. But most times, curiosity got the better of him, as he opened them up to understand how they worked.
It was no different when he got his first analog watch. The mechanics fascinated him and to his relief, he was even able to put it back together over time. Then one day, he had a brainwave. He reached out for the box where he had stashed coins as part of his collection. The one pice British era coin had his attention, primarily because of the hole at its centre. In the next minute, he opened up his watch, pulled out the hands and stuck the coin on the dial, before reassembling it.
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What he saw looked attractive, and in a few years, it was enough reason to set aside a career as a reinsurance broker. In 2013, Mehta launched the Jaipur Watch Company that creates handcrafted timepieces, influenced by the heritage and history of the state of Rajasthan as well as India. Besides coins, past designs have included intricate pichvai artwork and real peacock feathers, while the latest collection, Filigree II, features a one anna coin adorned with filigree work around it, sapphire glass and a precious stone on the crown.
Mehta is aware of the challenge on hand in a business dominated by Swiss players, who have the legacy and marketing budgets to match. But over the last decade, he has not only managed to create a niche, but has also onboarded investors who have been rewarded for their faith in his offering.
There were a number of risks when Mehta started out, but at the heart of it, he had always looked to chase satisfaction and joy with what was then a newfound hobby. But having transformed his passion into a well received brand today, he wants to continue innovating in the field of horology and hopes that the Jaipur Watch Company grows into an admired powerhouse from India.
Mehta talks to Lounge about the early learnings from his mentor, why he believes in handing creative freedom at the office and how “me time” has been the key to his success.
Who do you consider your mentor?
Prakash Chandra Kothari – a jeweller by profession and one of India’s senior-most numismatists.
One major insight you worked on with your mentor’s guidance?
He taught me one thing right at the beginning – you are creating a watch, watches require perfection and they have to last a lifetime. I have followed his philosophy in all my products.
What does being a mentor mean to you? How do you mentor your colleagues at work?
As a mentor, it is my responsibility to ensure that I give my team the best, honest advice, which I have gained from my good and bad experiences. But at the same time, I give them creative freedom at my cost. I tell them to experiment even if we might fail, since I know that the learning will lead us to better products.
What’s your morning schedule like?
I wake up at 6am and go for a walk in a park nearby. I then help my wife get my small twins ready for school and I always drop them when I’m not travelling. After that, I go for coffee where I’m usually on the laptop. That one hour is my “me time” before reaching the office and taking on the grind.
What are some of the productivity principles you follow that have made your professional and personal life much easier?
Respect time – time of other people and the time we create. That’s my motto. I am a very organised person and a planner. I have a long to-do list every evening for my next day, which helps me personally as well as professionally.
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What’s the one positive work routine you have developed during the pandemic?
“Me time”, the time for oneself without any interruptions from the outside world. It has helped me develop a lot of designs and innovative work plans.
How do you unwind? Do you pursue any serious hobbies?
My hobby is my business. It keeps me occupied through most of my day. I am fascinated with stories about coins and stamps. Only at times, I keep cheat days during the work travels to unwind.
Monday Motivation is a series featuring leaders who tell us about the people they look up to and their work ethics.
Shail Desai is a Mumbai-based freelance writer.