Monday, July 6, 2015

A Curtain Call – Closing down of the HMT Bangalore Unity Building Showroom

HMT Showroom Unity Building
HMT company showroom in the Unity buildings, J.C.Road was one of the oldest HMT showroom in India. This showroom was opened in the early 70s and had visitors from all across the country and world. My association with the showroom started with a phone call to enquire about the availability of HMT Pilot watches. Soon, the showroom became my favourite hang out.I met many interesting people at the showroom and learnt from their experiences.I shared some of these experiences through my blogs Link blog 1 , Link Blog 2 . Few months back,HMT watch company decided to close its showroom in a phased manner and this showroom was one of them.After the closure of the showroom, Mr Bhagavan has taken up the charge of the new HMT showroom in Bangalore at first floor of Barton Center , M G Road Bangalore.I shall be posting a blog soon on my first visit to the showroom.

A fellow collector,blogger and friend Varun Iyengar was at the showroom on the day of closure and below is an eye witness account from him.

My journey with HMT has been since 2009 where I used to visit showrooms just to see the vast collection of HMT watches wich I never used to buy. I always used to consider myself an enthusiast rather than a collector of sorts. Incidentally my first watch was a Janata art deco variant followed by a couple of Pilots and Sonas.
Some of the HMTs that I purchased initially were from either the two showrooms in Bangalore one in Unity Building and other being Jalahalli (CSD). I used to prefer the Jalahalli showroom during my initial years since it was near to my place of work. Later as time passed I shifted to Unity Building due to its location. I used to spend my Saturday afternoons at the Unity building showroom looking at the red velvet steps in the showroom filled with an array of watches from the HMT stables. All these are history today.
Sometime in mid 2010 I had for the first time visited the Unity Building in search of a Janata for my classmate/colleague who was pestering me for a long time. Though I did not get one but got introduced to Mr. Bhagavan who introduced himself first and later I introduced myself saying I am an academician (and a student of sorts). He also gave me his visiting card. This meeting still reverberates in my mind whenever I here Unity Building from someone. In the same visit I also happen to pick up HMT Pilot which I gave it to one of my friend later. I have never tried to ask technical questions to Mr. Bhagavan all these years but have never failed to ask for watches that I can pick up. I also remember asking him a HMT Jawan for which his reply was try hard you will find it and I don’t have it. Later in years to come I have picked numerous watches from this showroom starting from the very basic HMT Vijays and Varuns to the classy Chronograph. I have also left a series of watches like HMT Sweekars thinking that I will have time to pick up later (which was a mistake that I made). The Unity Building has now become hotspot for all the HMT watch collectors and enthusiasts to meet, exchange notes and impart knowledge. For the last few years it had become a routine to meet some fantastic people and learn something new. But the sad part is the showroom is gone for ever.
Last year in the month of September the news of HMT closure shattered the hearts of many HMT collectors and enthusiasts. Then the news trickled saying all the showrooms would be closed. The first one to bite the dust in Bangalore was the Unity Building showroom. I got to know they would close on a certain day, and was not prepared to go and meet Mr. Bhagavan there because I was not ready to confront a disappointment. But one of my friend (a HMT collector) forced me to come to meet him at Unity Building which turned the tables. That was the last day of the showroom. I just entered the showroom and saw Mr. Bhagavan was arranging the watches in boxes and the tables were shifted to the corners. I spoke with him regarding the imminent closure and wished him all the best. I also in the meantime asked Mr. Bhagavan’s permission to take a picture of him to which his reply was a stern no but later he obliged for the same. I thanked him for all the help and also thanked him for helping out people all these years. After a long chat with Mr. Bhagavan finally the time had arrived for me to depart with a heavy heart. I bid good bye for one final time to the HMT showroom and head back home. Thank you HMT and its professionals for all what you have done for these many years and good bye. Here are some pictures from the last day of HMT Unity Building Showroom.

Mr. Bhagavan from Unity Building
The Final Journey for the Showroom Begins
Empty Racks in One of the Oldest Showrooms in Karnataka
The Final Hurrah - Showroom on the Last Day 

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