Thursday, August 18, 2016

A lucky find – HMT Rakhee

Today is Rakshabandhan, a day that celebrates the bonding between brothers and sisters. On this day, sisters tie a silken thread – Rakhee on their brother’s wrist praying for their long life and the brother’s promise to protect their sisters from every evil.
The house of HMT watches made a special watch in the early 70s to celebrate this festival with a ladies watch called Rakhee. A watch which is both unique as well as refined and was a perfect gift from brother’s to their sisters. It was released in two forms one as a pendent watch (a watch that can be worn around the neck) and the second one on a bracelet. The unique thing about this watch was its case which had a delicate Bidri work. Bidri craft is practised in Bidar-Karnataka, in Andhra Pradesh and in Maharashtra – bordering Karnataka. The metal used is a blackened alloy of zinc and copper inlaid with thin sheets of pure silver. (Source – Craft council of India). Each watch has a hand crafted case with Bidri work and thus each watch has a different and unique case making each HMT Rakhee watch unique and different from the other. These watches came with a 17 jewel hand winding mechanical movement. In my opinion, they are very rarely seen these days as their production stopped decades back.

Picture credit - Tarun Agarwal
Being a watch collector fills your life with excitement. The excitement that can be compared with the one felt by a pearl hunter or an excavator of artifacts. Most collectors talk about the role of luck, of being the right person at the right place. I believe more in the adage – “Harder I work, luckier I get”. But then I have days when luck shines upon me and the incident I am going to narrate here is of one such day and the story of my HMT Rakhee watch

Late in the year 2014, one night I was on call with my friend Jaideep and we were discussing HMT watches. Our discussion digressed to old/Vintage HMT watch advertisements and I started searching them on the net and came across an old HMT watch newspaper advertisement for sale. It was from the 70s and advertised HMT Rakhee watch. I was pleasantly surprised as I read through the advertisement and my admiration for the HMT watch company moved a notch higher. As we discussed, I told Jaideep that we should count ourselves lucky to even know that such an HMT watch even existed and that adding such a watch to our collection is nothing less than a distant dream. It was a Friday night and I had plans for the next day. I dozed off dreaming about HMT Rakhee.
Next morning, I took my wife to the city market area for shopping and quite forgot about the watch amidst the hustle and bustle of the busy market. We started back by afternoon to have lunch at Jaynagar. While driving back I spotted a small shop with a few watches at display. Much to the chagrin of my wife I decided to stop by and check them.  I stepped inside the shop and found the usual assortment of quartz watches on display. Though disappointed, I was also happy that I did not have to spend much time at the shop. As I was stepping out the engaging shopkeeper asked me if he could help me. I told him that I was searching watches with mechanical movements. He directed me to a neglected display case inside the shop. I decided to leave it at that, as we were getting late but the shopkeeper said – atleast take a look, you never know. I sighed and stepped back inside the shop, as my wife rolled her eyes in despair. I looked at the watches and to my utter astonishment there on a leather strap was an HMT Rakhee staring back at me as if asking me of what I was waiting for. A few minutes later I floated out of the shop with a light heart and a lighter pocket, a broad smile and an HMT Rakhee to my wife who stared at me with a magnifying gaze. Later that evening Jaideep was overjoyed with amazement as I narrated him the events of the day. Both agreed that it was nothing less than a great stroke of luck. Next, I bought the original advertisement of this watch and I treasure it now.

I have always believed that HMT watches are full of surprises, most attribute this to the numerous variants and models that were made by this company of which many are unseen and unheard. In my opinion it is also applicable to the collecting aspect of these watches as one might get and unseen gem at most unexpected places.
So that my friend was one lucky day for me which gave me a watch and an experience that I will treasure throughout my life.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Dard ka Rishta - HMT Kanchan.

Due to a physical ailment ailment, I have to attend physiotherapy sessions. During the sessions, amidst the casual chitchat, I usually keep gazing at my watch admiring it's beauty. A few days back, I had this HMT Kanchan watch on my wrist, the physiotherapist said, "My father used to wear an HMT Kanchan watch too. He got it for his marriage and used to wear it every day." "Really, that's great..would love to see it", - I asked. "It must be still with him, he was buried with his watch on his wrist, his beloved watch......". I murmured an apology and a stony silence resumed between us for the rest of the session. "Can you please wear this watch tomorrow as well?" - She requested. From that day, I wear this watch every day to the session. She loves looking at it and sharing fond memories of her father and how badly she misses him, but now in a more cheerful manner.In a way, these sessions help both of us in getting relieved of our pains. I am amazed by how a familiar watch could connect two unfamiliar people. In our case, we are connected by a Dard ka Rishta (Related by pain) thanks to the HMT Kanchan watch. I intend to gift her this watch on the last day of our session, will update all of you on her reaction.

(Edited for sharing an update) I am required to continue with physiotherapy for a few more weeks but luckily i got an option to attend the session at my office during the working hours itself. I updated my physiotherapist at the hospital about this development. I told her, how much i appreciate her sharing the dear memories of her late father and that i would want her to keep the watch as a parting gift. To my dismay, she politely refused to accept my request. She said her organization does not allow her to accept gifts from customers, it would be unethical on her part to accept the watch from me. I decided not to pester her as i could not ask her to do anything that can be interpreted unethical. She thanked me for the offer and said that she enjoyed and would always remember our discussions. I told her, that though i would have been much happier, had she accepted the watch as a gift. Nonetheless, i understand and appreciate her decision and that every time i would wear this watch, it would remind me of her and her father .

Dear friends,not every story has an ending as we expect it to be, but then, that's life and who knows, there might be another story which is getting unfolded waiting for an audience.