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. 

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