A local watchmaker that once aspired to be America's version of Rolex has closed its doors.
Niall, a 6-year-old startup that made luxury watches, shuttered its Leawood store Friday after relocating from the Country Club Plaza to double its space just months ago. The company's co-founder, Mike Wilson, said "this is it for Niall."
“We made a spectacular product that customers loved and built a spectacular brand, but the expense of building a watch company, especially in America, seemed to be far greater than what we could bear," Wilson said.
Wilson said he was disappointed to see his dream fail, but the fledgling watchmaking company got emails and calls of support from fans. He said the company was able to put watches on incredible people, like Royals manager Ned Yost, professional tennis player Jack Sock, boxer Evander Holyfield, actor Paul Rudd, KU basketball coach Bill Self and actor Kurt Russell.
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“We had a really good run," Wilson said.
Looking back, Wilson said the company's goals were "daring." Wilson wanted Niall to be "the best watchmaker in America."
"I guess you could say the long-term goal was to be the American Rolex," Wilson said.
Wilson said he taught himself to make watches and called it the "time-tested story of grit." He said he'd like to work in the watch business again, but plans for now to spend time with his daughters.
For Niall watch owners, he recommended getting service at Meierotto Jewelers in North Kansas City. He said he'd be doing whatever he could to make sure they have knowledge and parts to work on Niall watches.
Wilson said Niall would not have been possible anywhere but Kansas City.
"The magnetism that Niall built over the past six years that we’re all so very proud of is 100 percent the result of this city," Wilson said.