Cover Jacob Arabo, founder of Jacob & Co, poses with a model during his recent visit to Hong Kong. (Photo: Courtesy of Jacob & Co)

Jacob Arabo, founder of Jacob & Co, discusses Asia’s burgeoning watch market during a recent visit to Hong Kong

Luxury timepiece and jewellery house Jacob & Co presented an exclusive showcase in Hong Kong’s opulent Peninsula Hotel this month. A curated selection of the brand’s rare high jewellery and showstopping watch collections were flown in from New York, as well as several one-of-a-kind creations that were unveiled at this year’s Baselworld, including–but not limited to–the breathtaking Astronomia Casino and Fleurs De Jardin models.

We caught up with the maison’s founder, Jacob Arabo, during the event to discuss the brand’s future and its Asian collectors.

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Describe Hong Kong’s watch collectors.
They’re very knowledgeable. Hong Kong’s men and women love watches, and they are very aware of the mechanics. They appreciate good workmanship and new technology, which is important for us as our pieces are extremely intricate.

What makes Jacob & Co different?
We don’t make ourselves different, are watches simply are different. I design everything so that there’s no confusion between us and other brands.

So, you’re very involved in the design process?
I do things my own way. I design new watches that incorporate new technology and new movements that haven’t been tried before. Most of our watches, especially over the last few years, house movements that have never been attempted.

I love to be challenged. I like the difficult jobs, because nobody else wants them.

You’re often inspired by astronomy, and I also saw some dragons on display?
Yes, and we do have some dragons, which are all handcrafted. One watchmaker spends two months on each dragon–that’s how long it takes to create one.

And every watch is playful…
Of course, otherwise it wouldn’t be fun! We create conversational pieces. You wear a Jacob & Co watch and people notice. They ask: ‘What on earth is that?’ And our collectors love to educate.

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Which watches do well in Hong Kong?
The Astronomia Solar, which is essentially an entire solar system that’s worn on your wrist. All the planets move around a central sun. Nobody has tried to create something like this–plus, we incorporated a tourbillon.

The Astronomia Casino is also popular. The dial is a roulette table, with a small ceramic ball in the middle. You press a button and the wheel rotates.

Who do you envision wearing your watches?
Me. If I love it, I know others will also love it.

If you could design a watch for anybody, who would it be?
I recently made a watch called Godfather. I’d like Al Pacino to wear my Godfather watch. Now that I’m thinking about it, I’m going to give him a call. I don’t know him personally, but I know somebody who does.

I’ve also made watches in collaboration with Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo, and the Beckhams–to name a few.

Who did you enjoy working with the most?
I love David Beckham. That’s my boy, and he loves watches.

Which watch do you wear?
The Astronomia, and I wear the first ever prototype.

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