At just 27 years old, Danny Shahid runs his own watch dealership in the prestigious, iconic Burlington Arcade in Mayfair with his uncle and brother.
It’s easy to assume that a well-dressed young man with an incredible knowledge of luxury watches had his business, Diamond Watches London, handed to him on a plate, but that couldn’t be further from the truth.
Brought up by his mother and grandmother in Middlesbrough in northeast England, Danny described himself as “a little s**t” at school who always had some entrepreneurial tricks up his sleeve.
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He left school at 16 and followed his uncle down to London to start a business and, really, the rest is history.
“I wasn’t the type to sit down in the classroom – I was always trying to make money and sell things, whether that’s shoes or mobile phones, literally anything I could find on eBay I’d try and buy and sell it,” Danny said of his childhood business propensity.
Danny’s uncle saw this ambition in him, and when he started a London business gold plating iPhones, teenage Danny decided to join him and help.
Selfridges took a liking to Danny’s uncle’s gold-plated products, choosing to stock them in store over the business’s main competitor.
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When that contract came to an end they began stocking in Harrods, which is where Danny discovered the art of watch dealing.
Danny explained: “When the Royal Qatari family bought Harrods, one of the men in the family had a watch for sale, but he wanted it kept private.
“He showed me his watch and it was worth about £10,000 – coming from where I’m from, looking at a watch that’s worth £10,000, I almost fell over.
“I went with him to Hatton Garden [London’s diamond district], sold the watch, and made a £2,000 profit.
“I said to my uncle that we’re running around, doing crazy things to get by selling these iPhones, but look where the money is. The money’s in the watches. I made £2,000 in about 30 minutes work.”
Danny and his uncle set about learning as much as they could about watches – Danny already had a keen interest in fashion, so he wasn’t coming in completely cold.
And, using money from the gold plating business they bought some stock and set up a watch emporium in Hatton Garden.
Having a shop in Burlington Arcade was his ultimate goal, which he’s achieved far sooner than he ever dreamed.
Diamond Watches London now operates out of a boutique store in the luxury Mayfair arcade, still run by Danny, his uncle, younger brother and a family friend.
Danny’s success has come entirely from his own hard work.
He was brought up in the deprived northern town of Middlesbrough, where his mother was unwell and unable to work while his grandmother worked two jobs to support the family after his dad left when he was a young child.
He was never fond of school, preferring to channel his energy into entrepreneurship, but his humble beginnings never held him back.
Now, he sells watches that could buy houses in his hometown several times over – one of the most expensive watches he’s ever sold went for an eye-watering £385,000 while, according to Zoopla, the average property price in Middlesbrough is £154,531 – and his clients include Premier League footballers, celebrity boxers and musicians.
Danny has around 5,000 contacts in the global watch trade, so he can source the rarest watches very quickly.
He also has almost 90,000 followers on Instagram where he shares some of the incredible pieces that pass through his boutique – some of which are so rare there are just a few dozen in the whole world.
Clients have flown him across the world to source watches: he recalls a time when a long-time client flew him to Singapore to find a rare Richard Mille watch he’d spent four months looking for, which he then bought for £155,000.
“I was on a flight to Singapore on Saturday morning, and I was back in London on Tuesday morning with the watch,” he said.
“Being there, coming back home with that watch – that was an unbelievable experience.
“Travelling to Singapore, going around the country – the watch deal was done in one day, so I had two days to roam around Singapore which was nice, and it was even better doing it with a Richard Mille on my wrist.”
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On top of his jet-setting work, Danny encounters A-list celebrities on a regular basis in Burlington Arcade, comes across the most stunning luxury watches and meets some amazing clients, all while getting to work alongside his close family members.
Best of all, his beloved grandmother no longer needs to work at all – Danny said he encourages her to put her feet up, “but she’s always trying to do something”.
“It’s nice to be able to give that back, to have her relaxing,” he said.
Diamond Watches London is located at 23 Burlington Arcade, Mayfair, and online at diamondwatcheslondon.com.
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