“Call me at 9 am, tomorrow, please,” says Nirupesh Joshi, co-founder of the Bangalore Watch Company, which bills itself the country’s first “fine watch micro-brand.” (It’s like small-batch artisanal bread you can tell the time by.) He isn’t avoiding press calls; he’s just busy with the final-final stages of the quality inspection on their first roll-out – the Renaissance Automatic collection. “It’s a dress watch,” he tells us before the bye.
Blame it on the early morning call-time but we decided to stretch our legs with a clichéd question: What’s your first memory of a watch? “I didn’t have no rich grand-daddy who handed me an heirloom Omega,” he replies without skipping a beat. “My first watch experience was observing my dad wind his HMT Pilot before he headed off to work. He then got an HMT Kanchan. I was told I couldn’t touch them.”
W(h)atcha Looking At?
This daily ritual might have started the clock ticking. But it wasn’t till Nirupesh and Mercy Amalraj, his wife and co-founder, were working as techies in Hong Kong that it struck the bell. “We’d spend our weekends at the boutiques of A Lange & Sohne, Jaeger leCoultre, Vacheron Constantin and other such fine watchmakers,” Nirupesh says. “We’d be thrilled to see these timepieces, then dejected because we couldn’t remember this kind of attention to detail to watchmaking in India. It could be found only in the jewellery industry.”
It’s like small-batch artisanal bread you can tell the time by.
Both spouses remembered the days when HMT, Hegde & Golay and Titan were cult watch brands; what’s more, the first two were based out of Bangalore, as were Titan’s major operations. When they came back a couple of years ago to the city they call home, they decided to pay homage to the watchmaking tradition of the city with their company’s name.
Their first collection, the Renaissance Automatic, is “for the Indian gentleman who appreciates the finer things in life.” They have their eye on collectors, who they know will want something to commemorate the company’s début. They’re also looking at you to spend your annual bonus on something timeless. “In our time in Hong Kong and Seoul, we’d notice that people in their mid-30s would save up to buy a good watch but over here, they’d rather get a new cell-phone or a name-brand watch like an Armani, who aren’t really known for their watches.” Keep better hours, Nirupesh urges.
Strapped For Time
Parts have been handpicked from across the world and micro-assembled with partners in Hong Kong and Shenzhen; the final assembly happens in Bangalore. “The movement selected for our debut collection is Citizen Japan’s Miyota 9015,” he explains. “It’s a great work-horse and used across numerous international watch brands.” There’s an even more sentimental reason: it’s Bangalore Watch Company’s nod to HMT, “who in the 1960s sent their entire team to Citizen Japan to learn watch-making and also incorporated one of the older versions of the Miyota in their automatic watches,” Nirupesh says. Heart goes doki-doki.
This story was contributed by Joshua Muyiwa, a Bangalore-based poet and writer.
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