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People Meet Jacob Arabo, The Billionaire Who Makes The Most Expensive Watches

Meet Jacob Arabo, The Billionaire Who Makes The Most Expensive Watches

Meet Jacob Arabo, The Billionaire Who Makes The Most Expensive Watches
By Pichaya Petrachaianan
By Pichaya Petrachaianan
November 13, 2019
From truly humble beginnings as a Russian immigrant to the United States, Jacob Arabo has built an empire out of hard, hard work and an intuition no amount of money can buy

There will always be someone who will pay a little extra more for something a little more extra. Leonardo di Caprio, David Beckham, Beyonce and Floyd Mayweather are some of the well-known ones of the kind. In fact, the latter once paid US$18 million for a 280-carat diamond-encrusted timepiece created by a man named Jacob Arabo.

Arabo is the founder of jewellery and watch brand Jacob & Co. Very popular amongst celebrities and international money, Jacob's creations are stunning statement pieces with equally stunning price tags. In a move to expand his New York-based business globally, he has chosen to open a retail space in Bangkok. Thailand Tatler caught up with the founder and director of Jacob & Co to learn about his drive and the business.

Watch with built in music box
Watch with built in music box

So tell us how you got started.

I was 14 years old when I came to the United States, exactly 40 years ago. My parents were struggling for money. We came from Russia, and it was difficult in 1979. I decided to drop out of school when I was 16 and take on any profession. I knew whatever profession I took that I was going to do well. So I decided to do jewellery design because I had a background in photography. As a photographer, you see the picture before taking it. I became a designer and jeweller, working in a factory in a small town. As I started designing, it became very successful. I was working very hard, many hours a day. I remembered having a mini-factory in my bedroom. When I came back from work, I would continue working in my bedroom until I fell asleep. I was working non-stop, and nine months later when I was 17 years old, I made enough money to open my own factory. I bought an old factory, started my own company and started manufacturing my own designs. That’s how I started.

Jacob Arabo
Jacob Arabo

What happened in 2002?

After being successful in my jewellery business, I launched my first watch. It was a success overnight—I didn't expect it to be so successful. The design was beautiful, and it was selling all over the world. 2002 became the second stage of success of my life, following jewellery. 

How do you identify yourself? A watchmaker? A jeweller?

I’m not a watchmaker nor a jeweller. I’m just a designer. I design jewellery and watches, but I started as a jeweller. When I was a teenager, I started repairing watches and fell in love with it, but I’m not really a watchmaker. I only design how the watch should work and how it should look. To become a watchmaker, designer and a businessman altogether aren't so easy. 

Millionaire  in Yellow Diamond
Millionaire in Yellow Diamond

What is it that made your brand so popular?

I like to design and make things that have never been made before in the watch industry. It keeps people excited, and it keeps me excited. My brand is driven by the impossible. make watches other manufacturers don't want to do because it’s too difficult to do, but that’s what gets me going: that I’ve reached the impossible.

What do you offer to your clients beyond jewellery and watches?

Lifestyle. It’s all about lifestyle—how you look, what you wear and what makes you happy. I enjoy making people happy and putting a smile on their face with my designs.

Who are your clients?

My clients are very educated, smart people. People with this kind of money, they are very smart. They read a lot, they see a lot, they buy a lot. They have car collections, and they have watch collections. You can't fool people like that. I give my clients what excites me because, me, I am the first client. The things that I make need to impress me. 

Diamond dice
Diamond dice
14K Two-tone gold baby spoon
14K Two-tone gold baby spoon

What is your principle in life?

I believe in what I do. I never lose hope, and I'm not afraid. When I make something, I don't look at the financial part of it. Sometimes my own staff are against certain designs because it’s too risky, or it requires too much money. I don't listen. I just follow my instinct and until now, I've always been right. For example, three years ago, I made an US$18 million watch. My employees told me I was crazy. It was a big investment but after the watch and a world tour for two years, the watch was sold! I wanted to make the most expensive watch in the world and I did. 

Astronomia Tourbillon in Black Ceramic
Astronomia Tourbillon in Black Ceramic

What’s your source of inspiration?

It just comes to me. It just comes to my mind, from up there I guess. It’s a gift I had since my teenage years, and my ideas and designs are something I’d like to share with everyone.   

How do you define luxury?

Luxury is what you see, you touch and you smell that makes you happy. For me, everything I build is luxury. 

Find the Jacob & Co boutique at the Time Zone, Gaysorn Village. Visit jacobandco.com to learn more. 

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