Last month, Yacob Behbehani Sons Company and Mr. Jerome Monnat Jr. CEO, of West End Watch Company hosted a chic fete to celebrate the diamond jubliee of the West End Watch Company for 75 years. With a strong presence in Kuwait led by the Behbehani family since 1938, the West End Watch Company commemorated this relationship by releasing a special edition range of watches entitled, “Kuwait”, inspired by the state of Kuwait and the special relationship that ties the heritage brand with Yacob Behbehani Sons Company.
The celebration included a short film about the West End Watch Company’s history in Kuwait, as well as a short movie that was viewed for the first time in Kuwait by the talented director Mr. Sadeq Behbehani entitled, The Carpet, where the West End watch, also produced in the 1950s made an appearance in the movie. Adding an artistic flair to the evening, a selection of paintings especially created for this occasion by the great artist Thuraya Al-Baqsami were auctioned. Before the festivities began, we managed to have a chat with Mr. Jerome Monnat Jr., to find out more about the West End Watch Company and the heritage brand’s relationship with Kuwait.
How long has the West End Watch Company been around, and when did you get involved with the company?
The West End Watch Company was founded in 1886, so the company has been around for more than 120 years. At one point in history, West End produced 1 million handcrafted mechanical watches. My family took over the company 13 years ago with the aim of maintaining and celebrating this institution.
How did the West End Watch Company grow since it came to Kuwait?
Ever since Mr. Yacob Yousuf Behbehani purchased his first lot of West End watches in 1938, even before the oil era, the brand found a life long partner in the Middle East. After the oil era, this opened so many doors for West End. In 1946, he obtained the official representation of West End Watches for the State of Kuwait, the following years for several countries in the Middle East. Along with the dynamism and seriousness of Mr. Yacob Yousuf Behbehani, the sales soon started to boom. With nearly 1 million pieces distributed at the end of the 1970s, Mr. Yacob Yousuf Behbehani became one of the greatest watch agents in the world.
Essentially, Mr. Aqeel Yacob Behbehani’s father played an integral role, not only in the development of the West End Watch Company, yet also on the total growth of a huge part of the Swiss economy. Even after his passing, the legacy of our brand lives on with the continued support of his son, Mr. Aqeel Yacob Behbehani. We are extremely proud to say that our partners, even throughout the war of 1990, never abandoned us, as the Behbehani family was keen to continue working with us.
Can you tell us more about the West End Watch Company heritage?
From developing the first, attested mechanical waterproof watch in 1864, Alcide Droz & Sons advanced the company in 1886 by distributing their line of watches to the Indian market. Back then; the Indian market represented a part of the Greater British Empire, and West End Watch Co. produced its first wristwatches for the soldiers of the British Army in 1914, until the end of World War 1 in 1918. Even the brand name was chosen because the most central part of the world back then was London, and West End represents the most stylish part of the capital of the British Empire.
The military design and tradition was one of the main reasons why the brand was very attractive to the late Mr. Yacob Yousuf Behbehani. The design of the mechanical watch, its dial, the welded metal corner details, and even the red hands of the watch are all elements that represented what a classic, yet durable, time piece should look like preluding the era of automatic watches that followed in the 1970s. Following the innovation of being the first brand to introduce the revolutionary anti-shock system in 1936, The West End Watch Company still maintained its military legacy and sought-after designs and functions such as the ‘Day and Date’ aspect of the design.
How does the West End Watch Company look to the future?
When we study how the West End watch is passed through generations worldwide, we wish to garner this sentiment with younger generations. For instance, in Tibet or Iran people still treasure West End watches worn by their grandfathers, and we see that here in Kuwait. We are hoping that with the launch of the “Kuwait” watch, along with the introduction of young designers commissioned by our company to create new lifestyle collections, we are very excited about the future.
Shop the West End Watch Company at Yacob Behbehani Boutique in Behbehani Complex (2240 3954) Baitak Tower (2225 7908) and Symphony Mall (2244 1614), as well as the Morad Behbehani Boutiques in Marina Mall (2224 4839), Al Kout Mall (2393 0338) and The Avenues Mall (2259 7727). For more information about Yacob Behbehani Sons Co., follow them on Instagram.