Michele: The sport and sparkle of MW

October 2003

Michele Watches is a family business that has evolved from a small, but flourishing business concern in Panama in the 1940s to a fashion leader in the USA in the 2000s. We take a brief look at their journey and what has made them a market leader.

Michele Watches, an American company with a penchant for trendy, eye-catching timepieces and in particular diamond-set watches and chronographs, is making tremendous inroads into the US market. The company's brands - MW and Michele Watches - also sell well in Latin America, Europe and the Middle East and despite the various prevailing socio-politic and economic problems around the world, the company is so far enjoying a better than normal 2003.

From Panama to Miami

Founded by Jack Barouh whose father was deeply involved in the watch and diamond trades in Panama, Barouh moved with his family to Miami in 1985 where he formed Michele Watches - named after his daughter who was then eight years old.

With business continuing to prosper in Panama, Jack Barouh began to explore and develop a branding and marketing strategy to introduce Michele Watches onto the US market.

As President and resident watch designer, Barouh slowly but surely began making the company's presence felt and in the year 2000, there was a strategic launching of MW Watches as an up-market watch brand. Just two years later the MW brand has become the best selling in its category (60,000 pieces in 2002) with 75% of the company's business being written in the USA in leading stores such as Neiman Marcus, Bloomingdale's and Saks Fifth Avenue. Other areas weren't neglected however and today the MW Collection also has sales of 12% in the Caribbean, 3% in South America, 5% in the Middle East and 5% in Asia

Trendy diamonds and steel

The first collection for the MW brand was the CSX-Diamond Collection, that cleverly combined sport and sparkle - stainless steel cases, diamond-set bezels and mother-of-pearl dials. Today with its intriguingly named collections Urban, Coquette, Deco Winter and Deco Colour, Sport and Classic, that have an abundance of diamonds, a colourful choice of dials and fashionable, colourful and interchangeable straps, MW leads and sets the trends in its carefully cultured niche market.

Today, Michele Barouh, the daughter after whom the watches were dedicated, is the Creative Director of the company. “I would love to see Michele Watches continue to develop fine watches while branching out into accessories,” Michele Barouh says. “My grandfather began by developing a sound business and creating fine watches in the 1940s and my father has taken the business to another level by introducing brand strategy. This strategy has met with enormous success in the world watch markets. Now it is time for my brother, Jeremy, and myself to continue this tradition.”