Reimagining fine watches, for India.
Mercy and I grew up in the 1980s in India, we miss everything about the 80s.
Every time we reminisce about our childhood in the 80s, brands like HMT, Ambassador, Gold Spot, and Onida stand like pillars holding up our memories from the times; there is a permanent place in our hearts for those brands.
There is a permanent place in our hearts for those brands.
Is HMT really dead?
It was during an unusually cold October night in 2015 at Hong Kong that we learned about HMT closing down; like a lot of you, we were sad to hear that and quickly ordered a couple of HMT Pilots online in the fear that we'll never be able to get our hands on one.
We had taken an interest in fine watches during the years spent in North Asia, spending weekends at one of the many boutiques of Swiss, German, and Japanese fine watchmakers. The news of HMT closing down planted an idea, to start an Indian origin independent watch brand. It was a mere pipe dream at the time, it was just a "what if someone did..." kind of idea.
The news of HMT closing down planted an idea.
Life had other plans, after all. We took a sabbatical in mid-2016 and spent time traveling, and at home with family, learning life-lessons and asking ourselves "what next?". Meanwhile, I had been researching on how to get a watch brand off the ground, design, manufacturing, suppliers, logistics etc. It was still a hobby, I spent hours on watch enthusiast and watchmaker forums online.
At the end of the sabbatical, we didn't want to return to our careers in tech. I started putting a business plan together. It wasn't a hobby anymore, we were serious, and we decided to do it, together; we incorporated our company in early 2017.
It wasn't a hobby anymore, we were serious, and we decided to do it, together.
A Requiem for India's fine watch demand
There have been several notable companies in the subcontinent that were experts in timekeeping instruments. In fact, India has always had a great taste for fine watchmakers. This is evident from the data showing import of fine Swiss watches into India in the past several decades until the 1950s when India's Nehruvian reforms resulted in high import duties and a push for Indian made products; only to be remedied by the policy change in the 1980s to reduce import duties.
India's Nehruvian reforms resulted in high import duties and a push for Indian made products.
State of the state:
Indian gentlemen today have a refined taste. You, your friends, or your significant other are upwardly mobile, well-traveled, well-read, and increasingly aware of where and how everything you use gets made, be it your suits, your bags, your whiskeys, or your watches.
Our view of the horology scene in India is that the market is bipolar. There are the luxury watchmakers from the valleys of Switzerland on one side, with their extensive distribution and retail channels, and there are the mass-produced brands of Titan in different segments at the other end.
Ironically, what the industry calls as the "bridge-to-luxury" segment is a lost opportunity in India's horology scene. The bridge-to-luxury segment is supposed to help customers moving from the contemporary brands upwards; educate customers on what they're buying, and create an unforgettable ownership experience. India lacks serious contenders in this space, where today's gents are left with no choices but to buy also-rans from one of the many shopping mall watch brands with no originality.
The "bridge-to-luxury" segment is a lost opportunity in India's horology scene
While home teams were continuing to strengthen distribution and retail channels, a quiet revolution has been shaking up the horology scene worldwide.
Watch Microbrands are being independently founded and owned by people that are passionate about watches, personal fashion, and horology. They produce watches with popular themes (like racing, diving, and sports) in limited quantities, and sell online through their own websites, social media forums, and specialised eCommerce websites.
Most watch microbrands produce watches by sourcing world-class components, outsourcing production, and have in-house final assembly and quality check procedures. Since they sell directly to customers without the distribution or retail model, they are able to pass on the savings directly and offer high-quality watches at prices much lower than that of luxury watch retail prices.
A deep desire to reacquaint Indian gentlemen with fine watches.
Mercy and I created Bangalore Watch Company out of a deep desire to reacquaint Indian gentlemen with fine watches. We will produce watches in limited numbers and offer them online directly to discerning gents, without a luxury markup. Our watches will use proprietary design, latest materials, and components that'll last you a lifetime, and will draw inspirations from India.
After months in design, engineering, prototyping, and numerous trips overseas to meet suppliers and learn the trade, we are ready to present our debut collection, the "Renaissance Automatic". Inspired by India's vintage watches like HMT, Hegde & Golay, the design, finishing, and presentation of the Renaissance draw from a time when watches were not just timekeeping instruments but identified with the wearer's appreciation for timeless accessories.
The Renaissance Collection lineup is open for preorders, order now for deliveries in May 2018.