Aug 9, 2023 - Business

How a Boston watch company became a multi-million-dollar enterprise

Albert Ganjei, left, and his son Joshua, right, pose for a photo in their office in Boston's Back Bay neighborhood.

Albert Ganjei and his son, Joshua Ganjei, are the men behind European Watch Company. Photo: Steph Solis/Axios

Diamond-studded watches. Gold cases. Alligator-leather wristbands.

  • That's what's made European Watch Company a multi-million-dollar Boston business with clients from all over the world.

Why it matters: The company, which runs out of a nondescript Back Bay brownstone, has grown from a niche retailer and repairer into a father-son team with $100 million in sales last year, per the owners.

What's happening: Albert Ganjei and his son Joshua are celebrating the company's 30th anniversary and pushing to grow even more as they ride a recent wave of vintage watch collecting.

Flashback: Albert Ganjei, a civil engineer and IT professional turned watch dealer, opened the store in 1993.

  • He started by selling a handful of high-end watches and upscaling newer watches by replacing faux crocodile leather straps with alligator leather. They went for maybe $5,000 or $10,000 at the time.
  • Ganjei says he also took on small, intricate repairs to build trust with new customers — even when it cut into profits.

Two decades later, his son Joshua graduated business school and picked up some work at the shop. He never left.

  • Joshua started to see the collector's market take off and urged his dad to spend more —maybe too much, Albert says — on collector's items.
The Omega Speedmaster wrist watch, the same brand that Buzz Aldrin wore on the moon.
The Omega Speedmaster. Photo: Courtesy of European Watch Company

Zoom in: The collector's market means finding rare wristwatches that fans throw money at — sometimes up to $250,000.

  • One of those watches is a $25,000 Omega Speedmaster, the kind Buzz Aldrin wore on the moon — and a brand Albert remembers once costing $1,600.
  • The five-figure model Joshua found is one of the few remaining pre-1969 models.

Yes, but: They agree their investments in collector's items and their attention to customer service, which they say used to be rare among watch dealers, are what helped them succeed.

What's next: The company is striving for 20% growth in the next year. Albert and Joshua say they're on track to meet that goal.


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