Driving Disruption: Emir Horton Of Eartha Watches On The Innovative Approaches They Are Taking To Disrupt Their Industries

An Interview With Cynthia Corsetti

Manufacturing and sourcing materials from countries that are traditionally overlooked.

In an age where industries evolve at lightning speed, there exists a special breed of C-suite executives who are not just navigating the changes, but driving them. These are the pioneers who think outside the box, championing novel strategies that shatter the status quo and set new industry standards. Their approach fosters innovation, spurs growth, and leads to disruptive change that redefines their sectors. In this interview series, we are talking to disruptive C-suite executives to share their experiences, insights, and the secrets behind the innovative approaches to disrupt their industries. As part of this series, we had the pleasure of interviewing Emir Horton, Founder of Eartha Watches.

Time often feels like it’s going too fast or too slow, which is why we’re always on the search for something that is timeless. And that’s what you get with Luxury Eartha Watches. Founded by Emir Horton, the timepiece brand is “Connecting Time to the Mission.” Emir Horton stands as a producer for exceptional craftsmanship, design, and attention to detail, evident in his brand Eartha Watches. The brand not only offers exquisite timepieces but also symbolizes breaking barriers and empowering busy professionals to cherish time as their most luxurious asset, enabling them to conquer any mission.

Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series. Before we dive into our discussion about disruption, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you share with us the backstory about what brought you to your specific career path?

When I was a teenager, my mother said to me “two things a man should always have been a wallet and watch” as she gifted me my first timepiece. This truth sparked my attraction to timepieces and a desire to one day have my own collections. However, it wasn’t until I relocated from Philadelphia to Los Angeles when I experienced economic hardship in pursuit of a career in television. Eventually, I gathered stability which in turn gave me a clearer mind to think about my future and reflect on how I was utilizing my time here on earth. The moments of reflection empowered me to take back control of my economic freedom, using entrepreneurship as the vehicle.

What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?

When we first launched our in-house designed premiere collections in 2020, they carried unique designs and specifications for men and women. Through market analysis and client feedback, we identified a shift in consumer behavior due to women purchasing our pieces for men, and men desiring to have a male version of the timepiece that we offered for women. To appeal to the evolving tastes of the new generations while breaking away from the conservatism of the watchmaking industry, we stand out and fill the gap by offering versatile, diverse timepieces. We’ve innovatively crafted “Dawn and Dusk” collections instead of “Men and Women”, eschewing traditional labels in favor of our disruptive design philosophy. Moreover, our pivot to limited-edition releases adds an element of exclusivity and rarity, appealing to discerning consumers seeking unique timepieces that add a touch of luxury to any attire for any occasion.

You are a successful business leader. Which three character traits do you think were most instrumental to your success? Can you please share a story or example for each?

Patience, possessing exceptional communication, and attention to detail. I’ve encountered team members in the past who didn’t seem to fully embrace the essence of our brand or its vision. Their lack of enthusiasm and care was reflected in the quality of their work, and after a while it became evident that for them the job was merely a means to earn a paycheck. Instead of immediately resorting to termination upon my very first observation of subpar performance, I first held meetings with them to express my concerns and clarify the values and standards that define our brand. Additionally, when leading a team, I recognize the importance of honoring every idea, even those that don’t necessarily align with our company’s vision. I understood that creativity flourishes in an environment where individuals feel valued and respected. So even when presented with ideas that diverged from my direction, I make it a point to express gratitude for the effort and creativity put forth or seek out ways to enhance the idea to better support our goals.

Leadership often entails making difficult decisions or hard choices between two apparently good paths. Can you share a story with us about a hard decision or choice you had to make as a leader? I’m curious to understand how these challenges have shaped your leadership.

With the costs of goods increasing for sourcing materials ethically and sustainably, ensuring a steady supply of materials and components while managing costs and minimizing disruptions can be a daunting decision. We take pride in being a socially responsible company and do not compromise our morals or integrity. I lean on our innovative roots while investing in research and development to implement eco-friendly materials.

Ok, thank you for that. Let’s now jump to the primary focus of our interview. Let’s begin with a basic definition so that all of us are on the same page. In the context of a business, what exactly is “Disruption”?

A significant change or innovation that uproots traditional ways of doing things within an industry or market.

How do you perceive the role of ‘disruption’ within your industry, and how have you personally embraced it? Is it a necessity, a strategy, or something else entirely in your view?

In the luxury watch industry, I see disruption as both a necessity and a strategic imperative. To me it shouldn’t just be about shaking things up for the sake of it but to solve problems, push boundaries, and stay ahead in an ever-evolving landscape. Personally, I’ve fully embraced disruption by observing societal trends and understanding the behaviors of our target clients. Innovation is at the core of my passion because I crave uniqueness and detest conformity. And I’ve discovered that I’m not alone in this sentiment, especially within the world of watches. In such a competitive business landscape, differentiation is paramount because anything that is not growing is dying.

What lessons have you learned from challenging conventional wisdom, and how have those lessons shaped your leadership style?

As I’ve previously mentioned, the luxury watch industry is traditionally conservative, however, I’ve learned the importance of courage and conviction. It takes courage to challenge the status quo, to go against the grain, and to pursue innovative paths that you know the industry is lacking. Through this, I’ve realized that true leadership requires unwavering conviction in one’s vision, even when faced with skepticism or resistance. Disruption often invites obstacles. I’ve learned that the mindset that speaks of failure or pushback is not defeat but rather a stepping stone towards progress. This resilience has allowed me to pivot when necessary, to learn from mistakes, and to continuously evolve both personally and professionally as a leader.

Disruptive ideas often meet resistance. Could you describe a time when you faced significant pushback for a disruptive idea? How did you navigate the opposition, and what advice would you give to others in a similar situation?

One instance that comes to mind is when I proposed hosting a summit for high school students in the inner city of Philadelphia aspiring to work in the entertainment industry, despite being a luxury watch brand. Many questioned the relevance of such an event to our brand and viewed it as a waste of time and resources. However, I remained steadfast in my belief that as a luxury watch brand fostering talent and giving back to the community is an important thing to do, even if it wasn’t immediately obvious how it would benefit the bottom line. The potential opportunities are limitless, positioning us to be the first luxury watch brand to host an event in Philadelphia for high school students merging timepieces and Hollywood with empowerment and inspiration. One thing I began to do, which can serve as advice, is that I selectively shared information about the initiative within my team. Instead of seeking unanimous approval, I focused on rallying key supporters who shared our vision and were willing to champion the initiative internally.

What are your “Five Innovative Approaches We Are Using To Disrupt Our Industry”?

1 . Sustainable and ethical practices.

2 . Manufacturing and sourcing materials from countries that are traditionally overlooked.

3 . Collaborating and cross marketing.

4 . Embodying our in-house design philosophy.

5 . Building community through the art of storytelling and time.

Looking back at your career, in what ways has being disruptive defined or redefined your path? What surprises have you encountered along the way?

Being disruptive has not only redefined the products we create but also the strategies we employ to engage with our audience. Disruptive thinking has boosted my confidence in our offerings by validating that what we have is truly what people want. One of the most notable surprises has been the extent to which our audience has embraced change, particularly with designing our products to be suitable for both men and women. This is a model that was implemented based on my own observation of the industry, and we are the first luxury watch brand that our audience has encountered with diverse timepieces.

Beyond professional accomplishments, how has embracing disruption affected you on a personal level?

Embracing disruption has influenced me on a personal level by constantly challenging me to think outside the box. It’s pushed me to take risks that others might shy away from, even if it doesn’t promise results.

In your role as a C-suite leader, driving innovation and embracing disruption, what thoughts or concerns keep you awake at night? How do these reflections guide your decisions and leadership?

Sometimes, I think about the reception of our innovations and position by our clients. While we strive to introduce groundbreaking ideas and products, there’s always the risk that they may not be received as well as anticipated. This uncertainty can lead to moments of doubt and apprehension, especially considering the significant investments of time, resources, and reputation that go into these endeavors. However, I know that I sometimes can get in my own head and this comes with being a perfectionist. These concerns remind me to approach innovation with humility and empathy, always keeping the needs and desires of those we serve at the forefront of our efforts. Rather than solely focusing on pushing the boundaries, I prioritize understanding our audience deeply to ensure that our innovations genuinely address their wants and pain points.

You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

If I could start a movement that would bring substantial good to the most significant number of people, it would revolve around the principles of group economics and mutual support. A movement where celebrities and everyday people used their platform and likeness not just for personal gain but to save struggling businesses. I’d also encourage seeking out ways to collaborate with one another. The movement would also involve immense potential in business matching, where companies in need of each other’s services are paired up for mutual growth. Wishful thinking, but I know group economics works as we’ve seen it with Black Wall St in Tulsa Oklahoma and countless other communities.

How can our readers further follow your work online?


@Earthabyemir on all social media

Thank you for the time you spent sharing these fantastic insights. We wish you only continued success in your great work!

About the Interviewer: Cynthia Corsetti is an esteemed executive coach with over two decades in corporate leadership and 11 years in executive coaching. Author of the upcoming book, “Dark Drivers,” she guides high-performing professionals and Fortune 500 firms to recognize and manage underlying influences affecting their leadership. Beyond individual coaching, Cynthia offers a 6-month executive transition program and partners with organizations to nurture the next wave of leadership excellence.