Thursday, December 26, 2013

HMT Watch Exhibition cum Sale at HMT Watches Jalahalli Bangalore


I have great news to share with all of you.

Over the last few months, we had a series of discussions with the marketing leadership of HMT watches. I gave them an insight on the passion people have for HMT watches (specially mechanical and automatic watches).

We also discussed with them the scarcity of genuine HMT watches and the over-the-top prices one pays to get these watches. We also discussed about the fake/franken watches infesting the market and the lack of awareness about HMT watches.

HMT watches have very graciously agreed to set up an exclusive exhibition cum sales camp especially for us at their Jalahalli premises in Bangalore. They will be exhibiting all the watches that are available with HMT and we will have a chance to purchase original HMT watches directly from the company with proper bill and guarantee card at the company retail price and may be even discounted price.

One can expect to see some of the rarest watches up for sale in this rare opportunity.

The date for this event is 18th January 2014, Saturday. 

As a next step, I request all the HMT enthusiasts to confirm their participation to me by replying to this thread as I need to inform the HMT officials beforehand to help them make proper arrangement.

For all the people outside of Bangalore, I am trying to arrive at an understanding that any watch that an HMT fan wants to buy can be sent to the nearest HMT company showroom in his/her city. The watch will be kept reserved for the person and all he/she needs to do is pay for the watch at the showroom and pick it up.

Request all the HMT fans to spread the word and participate in large numbers to make this event successful.


Monday, December 16, 2013

The Great Indian Marriages and HMT Kanchan Watches

In India, marriage is not just a ceremony, it’s a carnival, a festival full of glitters, lights, pomp and show!. Traditionally a wrist watch is one of the many gifts that a groom would get in his marriage. It was an integral part of the most of the engagement ceremonies. I always wondered what could be the significance of this gift. My take on this is that the family wishes the couple to have a good time and a good watch would bring them luck. It’s a natural human tendency to draw parallels between similar events. Often in the marriages that I have attended I hear the earlier generations remember their marriages and the good old days with a lot of fondness. During my discussions with those who got married in the late 70's and the 80's a few things were pretty common in the marriage ceremonies, the groom cherished a brand new Bajaj scooter, a two-in-one stereo music system and a good watch. The most sought after watch and a favorite with the grooms at that time was the HMT Kanchan automatic watch. The demand for this watch would spike specially during the marriage season i.e. auspicious days to get married as per the Hindu calendar. People would queue in front of HMT showrooms before the opening time to ensure that they get the watch before it got sold out but had to often return empty handed for the demand was always more than the supply of these watches. People would book a Kanchan watch in advance to ensure its availability on the right time. Some also brought letters of recommendations from ministers to skip the waiting list for a Kanchan watch. Times changed in late 80's and early 90's when Titan started producing quartz watches and replaced the Kanchan watch which as the most sought after watch of an Indian wedding.

Kanchan means “Gold/Golden” in Hindi and true to its name the watch looks as if it was made of gold - case, dial, hands, indices, bracelet and even the days in the watch were all gold plated. Gold is the most auspicious metal for Indians especially Hindus and thus the watch provided the required auspiciousness and glitter to the marriage ceremony. Also, An HMT Kanchan automatic watch looks quite similar to the Rado diastar watches and thus became the next best thing to the expensive Rado watches. Therefore Kanchan Automatic became an integral part of the Indian weddings.
HMT also issued Kedar automatic watch which also shared a striking similarity to the Rado Diastar watches. HMT Kanchan is also one of the most serviced watch in HMT service centres indicating the huge number of Kanchan watches sold at one time by HMT and it being the symbol of the fond memories for its owners who want to keep the watch running.
HMT Kanchan watch had a reliable day and date HMT 6500 in-house movement with a screw-off watch back. The dial size was 35-36 mm and inserted gold plated indices marking the hours on its dial. Normally with 6500 movement the days would be in grey color but in this watch they were in golden colour which made it quite different from the other HMT automatic watches with the 6500 movement. This watch was available with option of a gold polished steel bracelet or a leather strap.

Later on HMT stopped the manufacturing of Kanchan automatic and released the HMT Kanchan Premium automatic series. This watch was released in white, black and golden dial with an 8205 movement. The dial was similar to the earlier Kanchan watch at 35-36mm diameter. It had a guilloche/graphic dial as compared to the plain dial of HMT Kanchan watch. This watch was available with option of a gold polished steel bracelet or a leather strap.

With time HMT stopped the production of HMT Kanchan automatic and released the Kanchan supreme watches. It has a bigger dial around 43-46mm and is currently produced at the HMT Bangalore factory. This watch has an 8205 movement and comes in white, golden and black dial variants. The dial and hands of this watch is quite different from the earlier models. This watch is currently available in HMT showrooms across India. 

Monday, December 9, 2013

Recent visit to HMT Watches Tumkur showroom

“Ok…will meet you at 9 am tomorrow at Majestic bus stand” said Raaj confirming his participation in the HMT Watch Hunt at Tumkur. In my earlier blog I have mentioned about my HMT Hunting trips. This Trip to Tumkur was one such trip and was quite eventful. Next day I left my house at eight in the morning and boarded one of the Vajra- red buses to reach Majestic Bus station. Being a Saturday morning the roads were vacant and so were the seats in my bus.

“Give me a ticket to majestic bus station. Please” I requested. “That would be Rs. 50” Replied the polite bus conductor. I gave him the money and he handed me my ticket. “That is an interesting watch on your wrist” I said. He gave me a surprised look and said “It’s an HMT watch”. “How long have you been wearing this watch” I asked. “Since 1992 after I joined the BMTC (Bangalore Metropolitan Transport Corporation)” replied the conductor. “That’s a long never thought of moving to a quartz watch” I probed further. “Yes,21 years is a long time sir....but you see..It’s an automatic watch…It does not require a battery…I like this watch and I don’t want a quartz watch that might conk off and leave me stranded because of a dead battery..In 21 years I took my watch only once to the repair shop to repair its case” was his proud answer.

I reached my destination on time. We took the bus to Tumkur and spent the journey sharing our experiences in life and of course discussed about HMT watches.

We reached Tumkur at around 10 AM. I bought the HMT Sweekar and the HMT Sanjay from the showroom along with an Astra digital that a friend wanted.I had been searching for both Sweekar and Sanjay watches for a long time. The search finally ended in Tumkur. 

We also saw a very old Shakti Quartz watch which had come for getting serviced at the showroom. It was quite a beautiful watch. HMT had produced quite a few mechanical and quartz watches in the Shakti series of watches.

I was talking to the sales manager asking him when he would get the next stock of watches when Raaj called out to me “Prashant, you need to see this”. There on the counter was a Golden dial Sona watch. “This watch belonged to my father and I have re-conditioned it and have kept it safe in the memory of my late father” Replied the gentleman behind the counter. I inspected the watch and yes it was an Old Sona watch. The leather strap on the watch was replaced by a golden bracelet. You might might find it interesting to know that the Older HMT watches have their second’s hand shorter than a minute hand and longer than the hour’s hand.

I could sense the pride with which the son showed off his father’s memory and with that we left the showroom to start our Journey back. As I was travelling back to Bangalore, memories of the day lingered on my mind and I said to myself – these watches are not only tools of precision but also emotions.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

HMT Rajat – A complete review.

HMT Rajat has been one of the most iconic watches from the HMT watch company. This watch has seen the evolution of automatic watch movements and has adorned the wrists of generations.

(Click on this link to check my YouTube video review on HMT Rajat watches and how to decode their case codes HMT Rajat Automatic full review )

Initially HMT released its automatic watches in 1974 . These were watches with day and date functions/complications and a with a bi-directional automatic watch movement. These were released in three case variants stainless steel,Gold Plated case and anodized aluminium cases. These later became HMT Rajat, HMT Kanchan and HMT Kajal respectively. From 1974-78 HMT used imported movements and parts from Citizen watch company,Japan and assembled watches in India.HMT Rajat was initially released in two variants one as HMT Automatic Day-Date and another one as HMT automatic on the dial and after a few years it was renamed as Rajat but the HMT Automatic and HMT Automatic Day-Date were still in production along with Rajat till the time HMT became capable of making everything in house or through ancillary units in India.These used Bidirectional movements 6906 and and 6901 respectively. 
White Dial HMT Automatic Day-Date Model

HMT Automatic White Dial 
HMT Automatic Day-Date Watch 

HMT Automatic Black Star Dist effect dial

In 1978 factory no 2 was made which made most of HMT Watch components with only a few imported from Citizen watch Company Japan. From 1978 onwards HMT started using 6902 unidirectional movement in its watches with "U" mentioned on their dials near the six o'clock position.

Guilloche pattern HMT Rajat- Unidirectional movement 

Milky white version 

One with exposure to Sun patina/natural color effect 

Off-white dial version 

Different original case variants

Black dial broad indices with red stripes.

 Black dial with different calligraphy of Rajat variant

 Sunburst dial with lumed markers and hands

Lumed indices and hands variant

In the 80s HMT Rajat started getting manufactured with 6500 Bidirectional movement. 

Silver Dial stick indices

Black Dial Stick indices Version

The 6500 got phased out in the early 90sand introduced 8205 bi directional movement. This had a quick set day and date unlike the earlier movements which had only quick set date and non quick.set day movement. These movements were used in Sujay, Dilip, Kailash etc. HMT used an imported 8205 movement for a much refined and bigger in size as Rajat Supreme. The traditional Rajat watch was 36mm in size while Rajat Supreme is 40mm. 

Rajat Supreme
HMT Rajat were also made for institutional orders. I share here ome such model

Service anniversary Rajat watch made for MICO

Let us also understand a bit about an automatic watch movement. An Automatic watch also known as a self-winding watch has its main spring winded by the movement of the wearer’s wrist. The watch has a weight on its back called rotor(Oscillating Masses - The technical Term) which swings like a pendulum. The rotation of this weight by the movement of the wearer’s wrist winds the main spring of the watch movement. The main springs releases this power by uncoiling in a regulated manner to the gears in the movement making the hands and the day/date wheels move in the watch.

In a Uni-Directional watch movement the watch is winded when the rotor moves in one direction only. This direction can be clockwise or counter-clockwise depending upon the calibre. However In a Bi-Directional watch movement the winding happens irrespective of the clockwise and counter-clockwise movement of the wearer’s wrist. The winding of bi-directional watches happens more easily as the rotor would wind the main spring with even a slight movement of the wrist.

The Uni-Directional movement is used more in sports automatic watches as the movement of the wearer’s wrist is more than that of a person sitting on his desk. Thus those who lead a less active life would prefer wearing a dress watch that would use a Bi-Directional watch movement. Also Uni-Directional watch movement are less complicated as compared to a Bi-Directional watch automatic movement.

As I conclude this blog I share with you some vintage Rajat and Automatic advertisements
Image Courtesy - Gangadharan Subramanian

Image courtesy -Internet
Image Courtesy - Srikant Shirodkar

Image Courtesy - Internet 

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

The Chase Is Better Than The Catch - Not really

I am a fan of Rock Music and there is a famous song from the band Motorhead “The Chase Is Better Than The Catch”. For me though the The Chase Is as good as The Catch” when it comes to chasing these watches from the bygone era. My quest for HMT watches have taken me on some interesting trips and places. I have met a lot of interesting people on these trips. Sometimes travelling alone and sometimes with a few like-minded HMT watch maniacs. I like to call these trips “HMT Hunting trips” for they are quite similar to a hunting trip. Just like hunting you do not know which trophy you would bag and if at all you would be lucky to get something interesting on a day. You are thrilled every time you bag something great and move on to the next one when you return empty handed.  

Earlier this year I traveled  to Pune. I went to the HMT watches Pune retail showroom to check what I could get from them. The showroom in Pune is close to the Natraj Hotel and had a neglected look. I found the usual display stalls and started browsing through them. There lying in the corner was an HMT Vidhan watch. Boy! I was thrilled, for this was the first time I had seen this watch. I asked the person on the counter if I could inspect this watch. He gave the watch to me and I was stumped by its beauty. I requested him to bill it in my name. I also requested him to show me a few more watches that might not be on the counter. He said that he had one more watch that might be of interest to me. He said he had a black dial pilot watch. I said I already have one and did not fancy adding one more to my collection. He said that this one’s different and with a winner’s smile he placed on the counter top a black pilot watch. Yes, it was different for unlike a normal black pilot watch this one had lumed numerals from 1 to 12 marked on the dial. He said that this is the last piece available with them. Then he told me that it was designed by him. I said…”what…you designed this watch”. “Not only this but the one on your wrist as well” said the man. I was wearing my daily beater the all Hindi Janata (1-12 numerals in Hindi). He went to a corner in the showroom and returned with letters where his design was approved for the watch that I had on my wrist and the one on the counter. I was quite happy to meet the designer of my favorite watch and I could not thank him enough for the joy the watch gave me every day.  

I left the showroom as a contended hunter would, with the trophies I had bagged on that day. As I was travelling back the thought lingered on my mind “The catch was better than the chase today”


Tuesday, November 26, 2013

HMT Pilot watch – Cruising through the decades

“What’s wrong with him why is he buying and collecting all that junk” said the voice at the other end of the phone receiver. “Papa, please don’t say that…those watches are beautiful and are very good” countered my wife. ”So when are you reaching Bangalore” she said trying to change the topic. “Ok we will be there to receive you …good bye” she disconnected the call and turned back to find me in my most amusing mood. “So you heard it all…right…he was just poking some fun on you… they will be reaching Bangalore this Saturday morning”

My father in law’s reaction to my hobby of collecting HMT watches does not surprise me. Especially when he wears an original Rado Ceramica watch. Thankfully my wife is on my side. Finally the fateful Saturday came and we reached the railway station in time to welcome them. After a nice breakfast of steaming hot Idlis and Chai I left my house to catch up with my friends at the HMT showroom located inside the Unity building complex on J C Road, Bangalore. I usually spend a couple of hours most of the Saturday’s at this showroom learning more about the watches and also meeting new and interesting people amongst those who visit the showroom. I met a man of my age at the showroom who initiated a conversation with me by sharing his admiration for the HMT pilot watch that I was wearing on that day. We were busy expressing our love for these watches and sharing our experiences when my phone started ringing. I picked-up the call. It was from my wife “When are you planning to return…Papa wants to speak with you”. I started back for my home though I was not really willing to conclude my meeting abruptly.

I reached home in good time much to the relief of my wife. I was relaxing in my sofa enjoying the cool Bangalore breeze when my father in law took his seat next to me. “ Beta ye ghadi dekhana zara ye babasahab ki hai (son can you please take a look at this watch this belonged to grandfather). I took the watch in my hand to inspect it and to my great joy it was an HMT black dial pilot watch. It had a black nylon strap. It looked battered and it was clearly a daily beater of my grandfather-in-law. The second’s hand come out and was lying inside the acrylic crystal dome on the dial. I rotated the crown to wind the watch and brought it to my ear. The watch was ticking. It was a beautiful coincidence with a pilot on my wrist and a vintage pilot in my hands. Both the watches however separated by the age difference of decades.

He could feel my happiness and said I am happy that you liked it. I called my wife and showed her the watch, she was equally happy. My father-in-law had surprised us both with this watch. I took the watch to the Unity building HMT showroom for servicing where it was serviced and it’s now keeping an accurate time. I was told that the watch was serviced once before in the early 90s. I am now a proud owner of two pilot watches - a grandfather and a grandson Pilot watch.

Major differences between the Vintage and New Pilots

Vintage Pilot had a domed crown as compared to flat head of the new pilot’s crown.  The dial of the vintage Pilot had “water protected” printed on the dial

 The case back of vintage pilot also had “water dust protected” etched on it. While the latest pilots have 0231 (watch movement) etched on it the vintage one’s do not have the same mentioned anywhere on the watch. The new pilot watch has shock resistant etched on it while the earlier one had “shock proof”. Vintage pilot watch back was threaded and screw off while the new ones have a threaded snap – off watch back

Monday, November 18, 2013

HMT Sona - The Real Gold


I recently visited Tumkur. It is a small town in Karnataka state in India. This city has the HMT watch factory number 4.  The idea behind this trip was to pick up a few rare watches from the HMT retail outlet in Tumkur and also to explore the opportunity of visiting HMT watch factory. I reached HMT retail outlet in Tumkur at around noon time and soon became quite busy talking to the sales officer at the showroom.

They had a good collection of old new stock of HMT hand winding and  automatic watches. I was busy with an HMT Nachiket watch,when a old gentleman entered the showroom. The sales person was talking to him and i gathered from their conversation that he had come to get the battery/cell of his HMT quartz watch to be replaced.

I moved close to that counter to take a look at the watches exhibited in the display unit when the watch on this old man's wrist caught my fancy. It was an old Sona watch. I could not stop myself from asking the gentleman about his watch. He said that the watch has been on his wrist for the last 15 years and has been keeping goodtime ever since he had brought it. He said that it was even better than the quartz watch his son has and he never had to get his watch serviced till date. I could sense the pride in his every word. He suggested me to buy one for myself and i said absolutely sir..

HMT Tumkur retail showroom

The old Gentleman

The old man's Sona watch

Saturday, November 16, 2013

The Minister and his faulty HMT watch

This was an incident that was narrated to me by a friend at HMT watches. Quite a few years back HMT watches had a showroom at the parliament street. Those days HMT had it’s showrooms at two places in Delhi - One at the Parliament street and another one at Khan market. But those were in the golden days of HMT watches and now we have only one showroom which is situated in the Jhandewalan extension in New Delhi.

This showroom at parliament street was frequented by aam Indian Janata (normal public), government officials and the politicians alike. One day the store got a call from one of the minister’s who wanted to buy a watch. He informed that his personal assistant or PA as they are popularly known as will come to pick it up on his behalf. The watch was kept ready and the same was bought by the PA on the minister’s behalf .He left in a hurry to take care of his work at the office and to deliver the watch back to his minister. Everybody thought that the transaction was over but the showroom saw the PA visiting them again the day after the watch was purchased. He claimed that the watch was faulty and wanted it to be replaced immediately. HMT issues a guarantee card with each watch purchased by its customers promising the performance of its product. It also promises that if the watch is found faulty the same would be repaired or replaced. The minister’s PA had the guarantee card and since the watch was a day old the store gave him a new watch.

So the PA left the showroom only to return back in a couple of days with the same issue and the watch was again replaced. Another two days passed and this time the minister himself graced the showroom with his esteemed presence. He was fuming with anger. A question was raised immediately by the esteemed minister on the quality of watches manufactured by the company and he shared his worry that if this was the quality of watches sold to the ministers what would be the quality of watches sold to the common Indian citizen.

The HMT staff was quite amused themselves but then kept quite as it was their product that was at fault. One of the HMT staff members from the store asked the minister politely to explain clearly what exactly was the problem he was facing with his watch. The minister fumed “problem…you are asking me what is the problem…the damn thing can’t even work for more than a couple of days. I got the watch on Monday and it stopped on Tuesday night again I got the watch and again it stopped”

The real issue behind the problem then dawned upon the staff members. They took the watch from the minister winded it and the watch started ticking again. The staff then explained to both the minister and his PA how the watch functions and how to keep it running. The minister and the PA left the showroom in a better mood not to return again much to the relief of the HMT staff members.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

HMT watch on Mr. Nehru’s Birthday today

 I don’t want this to sound like a school essay. Today is the birth anniversary of Pt. Jawahar lal Nehru. He was the first prime minister of India and was very fond of Children.He considered them to be the future of India. His birth anniversary every year is celebrated as children’s day in India.

Pt. Nehru was a statesman with a vision.In my earlier bog i have written how his vision lead to the formation of HMT watches.He wished to see a watch on every Indian’s wrist. He wanted the watches to be affordable and of a quality that would sustain the climatic variations in India. This dream was fulfilled by HMT watches Ltd.

In 1988, Mr. Nehru’s birth centenary year HMT launched the Nehru birth centenary watch. It’s a beautiful watch with a black n white portrait of Mr. Nehru on its dial with the Indian tricolor in its back ground. It also has the autograph of Mr. Nehru on its dial.

HMT also manufactured the HMT Jawahar watch to pay its respect to Mr. Nehru.

On this day today we pay our tribute to this great man and we hope that his cherished dream keeps ticking on the wrists of HMT Fans.  

This the Jawaharlal Nehru Centenary mechanical watch. Its a 17 jewels winding watch.It took a lot of my time and effort to get this watch. The watch has a few touch-ups.The hour and minutes hands that you see on the watch were actually plain steel in color and the red dots marking the hours were redone. Though i like my watches to be the way they were produced, this is one watch which i really liked with the alterations made by the seller.