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QUICKFIRE Q&A: Danny Shahid moves his Middlesbrough watch business to Mayfair

DWL’s Danny Shahid

Danny Shahid, known as @excellencebydanny to his 90,000 Instagram followers, grew up in one of the most economically disadvantaged areas of Middlesbrough before moving to London at the age of 15, where he began to develop a love and expertise for prestige watches. Now the 26-year-old’s company, Diamond Watch London, has opened a boutique in Mayfair to buy and sell high end timepieces to customers from all over the world.

WatchPro: Where did you grow up?

Danny Shahid: Home is Longlands in Middlesbrough, one of the most deprived areas in the country where unemployment has always been high. Myself and my brother were brought up by our uncle and to say we were not academic is an understatement, we didn’t spend much time at school. We moved to London when I was 15 and that was a huge turning point for me.

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WatchPro: How did you get into the watch trade?

Danny Shahid: My uncle bought and sold a watch, making a bit of profit. I set up a Facebook profile, Excellence by Danny, which was inspired by my passion for fashion but I also started selling watches from the platform and it soon started to grow. I’ve now been dealing watches for 11 years, ranging from £500 up to £200,000.

WatchPro: How have you built your network of global contacts and Instagram following?

Danny Shahid: I was an early adopter of Instagram because I have a strong eye for detail and became one of the first to showcase watches on this platform. I was mixing watches with fashion and a lot of my photos went viral so global bloggers would share my posts. I now use WhatsApp to communicate with my 5,000 contacts across the globe.

WatchPro: Have you sourced watches for any famous names?

Danny Shahid: It would breach confidentiality for me to reveal identities but I’ve worked with internationally renowned footballers, film producers, FTSE 100 directors and a C-Suite large fashion house director.

Diamond Watch London in the Burlington Arcade.

WatchPro: Where in the world do you travel to pick up watches?

Danny Shahid: I’ve had weekend trips to Singapore, Dubai and the United States but it’s often closer to home so countries such as Switzerland, Holland, Belgium, France, Spain and Italy.

WatchPro: What’s your best investment story?

Danny Shahid: Two years ago I sourced a Richard Mille Rafel Nadal RM035-02 watch for a client who was looking for a long term investment piece. They bought it for £180,000 and this model is now worth £280,000.  

Recently I used my WhatsApp contacts to source an Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Dual Time, one of the brand’s rarest on the market today. I picked it up myself from Kent and the next day I flew to Sweden to sell it to another of my contacts. The watch is currently for sale so I can’t talk figures but I can say it was certainly one of my most lucrative trips!

WatchPro: What skills do you need to become a successful watch trader?

Danny Shahid: Detail is everything with watches, it’s about acquiring vital knowledge of miniscule discrepancies that enable you to differentiate a fake from the genuine article.

You also need to understand the different variations of watches, for example the valuations of a Rolex Daytona versus a Rolex Zenith Daytona are very different.

Staying ahead of trends and demand is obviously crucial, and you need to have good people skills to grow your network of contacts. Being able to demonstrate your passion and expertise is also very important so you can build up trust. You also need good judgement to balance the risk and the reward.

WatchPro: Why is the business called Diamond Watches London and what makes it stand out from the competition?

Danny Shahid: In the early years we specialised in diamond setting luxury assets from phones to watches but we’ve now moved away from that and have rebranded to DWL. What makes us stand out is that we have a strong reputation for being able to source the most sought after luxury watches because we have such a wide global network of contacts. Some of our biggest competitors still regularly ask me about how I approach certain aspects of the business.

WatchPro: What are the biggest perks of the job?

Danny Shahid: I’ve really enjoyed being able to support my family and help my wife set up her business. I try not to be too flashy because of the risk associated with trading high end timepieces but I do enjoy travelling, cars, fashion and, of course, luxury watches.

WatchPro: What do you do in your spare time?

Danny Shahid: I am definitely a workaholic and I’m never without my phone but I like eating out with my family, going to the park with my nephew and at the gym I enjoy boxing, calisthenics and weight training.

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Rob Corder

The author Rob Corder