Wednesday, December 17, 2014

HMT Doctor's watch - Mechanical Fob watch

This is a very unique HMT medical practitioner’s fob watch which I added it to my collection recently. I have the quartz fob nurse /doctor's watch in my collection and always wondered if there was a mechanical one from HMT as well.Well, this is the answer to my query. Indeed HMT made mechanical fob watches for medical practitioners. What i have learnt is that these watches were produced in very limited numbers and were part of an institutional order.In my opinion this watch is based on the iconic Janata watch.I would really appreciate if fellow HMT watch enthusiasts or members of the noble profession of medicine could share more information about this watch.

Please refer my description against each picture to understand more about the watch.

This is a full length view of the fob watch

The font size of arabic numerals is much larger than most of the HMT watches making it easy to read for the doctor/nurse.The sub markers for minutes and seconds are also marked to help read the pulse of the patient

The milky white dial makes it easy to read and also the printing on the dial makes it easy to identify it with the medical profession.

The case of the watch has a single lug while the other side has a smooth clear finish indicating that the case was customised to make it a fob watch

The steel bracelet has the place to insert a safety pin to attach the fob watch to the doctors lapel

This is how the watch appears to the doctor when he is reading time. Note that HMT logo would appear upside down to him.

This is how the watch would appears to everyone except the wearer of the watch. Note that numerals would appear upside down to them.

This watch was manufactured in the HMT watch factory number four at tumkur 

Quartz nurse/doctor's fob watch from HMT. The design of this is quite different from the mechanical fob watch.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Rubies in the dust

I was trying to restore an Old Janata watch which i found lying neglected in a toolbox at a friend’s house. I had talked about it in one of my earlier blog ( I was looking for a crown that matched its age and this quest of mine kept me busy during most of the weekends. On one such weekend, I made a trip to an old watch repair shop. After making the required inquiries I decided to move on and continue with my search. As I started from the shop an old gentleman whom I had seen at the shop approached me and asked:

Old Man - “Saab, ghadi kharidte kya ?” (Sir,do you want to buy watches ?).

Me - “Kaun si ghadi hai tumhare paas” (which watch do you have?)

Old Man - “pachhas ghadi hai…chaabi waala hai aur shell wala hai” (I have 50 watches some of them are winding watches others are quartz)

Me – “Tumhare paas kahan se aayi…chori ka hai kya” (How did you get them..were these stolen from somewhere”)

Old Man – “Nahin Saab, mera khud ka hai..mai gaurmant department mein kaam karta tha…abi retire ho gaya…paisa chaiye iske liye ghadi bechne ko shop pe aaya tha..wo kum daam bola..socha tum ko hona to pura lot le lo..accha daam me de dunga”. (No sir, they are mine..i used to work in a government I am retired..i am in need of money so came to the shop to sell the watches..he is giving me a bad deal…I saw you and thought you might be interested and decided to offer you the entire lot”)

Me – “Bade miyan..mai apne shauk ko pura karne ki liye ghadi kharidta hu…bechne ke liye nahi…pachaas ghadi ka mai kya karunga..aur mujhe quartz watch nahi chahihye..hmt ka koi watch hai kya ?” (Old chap…I buy watches for my collection..and not for selling…what would I do with fifty watches..and I am not interested in quartz you have any HMT watches?)

Old Man – “do char hain..mere ghar chalkar dekh lo..mai idhar paas mein rehta hu” (I have three-four of them…come to my house and take a look..i stay close by)

Me – “Mera paas tumhare ghar jaane ka time nahi hai..idhar hi ghadi le aao (I don’t have the time to visit your house bring here your watches and we’ll see)

Old man – “Paas mein hi hai saab..aadhe ghante mein aa jayenge…tumko jame to lena varna koi baat nai” (My house is closeby sir..take whatever you like and its ok if you don’t like them”)

So we took an auto rickshaw and started the journey to his home. During the journey he told me that he used to work in the secretariat and got these watches as gifts from his bosses or visitors. As we talked the auto took us through the by lanes of old Bangalore until we stopped at a place from where we started walking through a maze of narrow lanes till we finally reached his home. It was a small house with beautiful rangolis made at the gate.

Me – “Mai yahin hu..tum ghadi le aao” (I stay here go bring the watches)

Old Man – “accha saab” (Ok sir)

He returned with a tin box in his hand and two chairs. He opened the box and handed it over to me. The box was full of watches . Most of them were quartz watches from unknown companies. He also had some old Seiko and citizen watches, which i did not fancy. Then in the box I found four HMT watches. These were really nice watches –HMT Rohini (manual winding), HMT Samrat, Kanchan and Kanchan deluxe(automatics). These watches were aged and it was quite apparent that they had stood the test of time. I checked and found that all of them were working fine. After a few rounds of negotiations we agreed on a price acceptable to both of us.I was quite happy to add HMT Samrat and Rohini to my collection.These are quite rare watches and I have been searching them for some time.

As I handed over the money to him he said “Saab, mujhe bahut khushi hai ki mai aapko ye ghaadi diya…dukanwala iska purja nikal kar spare mein bech dalta tha..tumhare paas ye ghadi salamat rahega” (Sir, I am very happy that you are taking these watches…the guy at the shop would have dismantled them and sold them as spares..with you these watches will be safe).

I thanked him and let my contact details with him. After that my old friend helped me get a few more watches that his friends had, but let’s keep those stories for some other day.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

A bus ride to rare HMT watches

I believe the best way to explore Bangalore is to take a ride on an early morning or late evening BMTC bus. I often do this on a Sunday morning. I travel across the city in almost empty buses enjoying the cool breeze and old Hindi film songs played on the radio. A few weeks back I was enjoying my routine bus journey. While my headphones were crooning “main zindagi ka saath nibhata chala gaya” a Mohd. Rafi classic, I received a gentle tap om my shoulder. An elderly gentleman was standing next to my seat  I shifted closer to the window to give him enough seat space. He tapped my shoulder again. I removed my headphones unwillingly darting a questioning glance in his direction. “May I ask you a question ?” –Said the man. “Please tell me” was my response. “Can you show me your watch” He enquired. I projected my left wrist towards him in answer. “That’s a nice watch you have their young man”. A conversation began immediately and after a few minutes the gentleman said – “I have HMTs too and have fond memories attached to them. Those were the glorious days, when HMT was the watch of Indians. Would you like to see my watches ?”. “Yes, of course” was my answer. After a couple of bus-stops passed we got down from the bus and headed towards his home. It was a simple and elegantly decorated drawing room of a upper middle class house. Mr. Kumar (name changed on request) introduced me to Mrs. Kumar who bought us our coffees. Mr. Kumar is a retired HAL (Hindustan Aeronautics Limited) employee . Over a hot cup of coffee our conversation continued. Presently, Mr. Kumar went inside and bought out his HMT watches. He had a couple of Black Jawahars, a commemorative Kohinoor watch, A Janata and a very special pilot watch. I was mesmerized by the beauty of these watches, the rare pilot with broad indices in particular. He showed me his watches with a lot of pride – “I got it on my service anniversary” he said looking at the Pilot watch. I have worn these watches very rarely and kept them inside my safe box. As we talked more, he learnt more about my HMT watch madness and heard my stories with interest. He shared quite a few instances and stories that he had heard and his experiences related to HMT watches.  

After enjoying his company and his HMT watches for sometime, I decided to take his leave. “Prashant, we are leaving for the US of A in the next few weeks to live with our son and family. We stay alone here and he is always concerned about our well being .We have stayed all our life in Bangalore but since my son is adamant and what he says makes practical sense…we are relocating.” I went silent for a minute and then said “ I have made a lot of friends, thanks to HMT watches. Today is probably the first time I have made and lost a friend in a day”. “No..No we are still here for a few must meet us before we leave Bangalore”. I promised to do so.

I received a call from Mr. Kumar after a couple of weeks. “Prashant, we are leaving for the US this weekend. Let’s catch up over a cup of coffee”. I met Mr. and Mrs. Kumar at their house. I updated him on the watches I had added to my collection in the last two weeks and promised to meet him upon his return. Since their flight was early next morning I decided it was time for me to conclude my visit. As I got up to take a leave he said – “Here this is for you” and handed over a packet to me. “This is a small gift for you. Open it once you reach home”. I had to visit a few more places and reached home a little late at night. After having my dinner I opened the packet. I was dumbfounded – for the packet contained Mr. Kumar’s HMT watches and small note that said “please accept them as a gift from me…..let the made in India stay in India J”.

It was too late to disturb them in the night and I have not been able to reach Mr. Kumar since that day. Friends, It’s just amazing how a wrist watch can turn two perfect strangers into friends. I take this opportunity to thank Mr. Kumar through this blog…Thank you Kumar Sir..thanks a lot”
Mr. Kumar's Broad Indices pilot watch which he received on his 15th service anniversary 
Case back of his Pilot watch with the etching celebrating his 15 years of association with HAL
The beautiful Jawahar watches
His Kohinoor watch which he received from his organization HAL during his service

Monday, August 25, 2014

Meeting a very young HMT fan

A few days back I had the privilege of meeting a very young HMT fan and thought of sharing the event with you all. I was at the HMT showroom in Unity building getting one of my watches serviced. While I was there, a father and son duo stopped by to check out the mechanical watches available in the showroom. They were looking for a Janata, Sona and a Pilot watch, which unfortunately were out of stock at the showroom. They were asked to check the availability of these watches with the opposite watch shop. As I moved out of the showroom, the shopkeeper opposite the showroom, Mr. Satyanarayana called me to check out a few watches and for our weekly banter. I asked the gentleman (father) if it was the first time he was buying an HMT watch and our discussion started. I was then surprised by the interest of his son in the HMT watches. He was barely 10-12 years old and was very much interested in the watches and the tick-tick sound of the moment. He wanted to understand the difference between the automatic and mechanical watches and so many other things. I was delighted to answer his queries and suggested them a few watches to start their collection. After sometime I decided to leave them with their HMT shopping for the day. As I bid them farewell, I asked the young HMT fan his name. “My name is Aditya” – He said. I asked him – “Do you know there is an HMT watch with your name on its dial”.”Oh really” – He exclaimed. The joy and bewilderment on the kids face was a Kodak moment. “Have you seen it? Do you have that watch in your collection, where can I get that watch?”etc. I asked them if they are on Facebook. He said he was not on facebook but will join our facebook group (HMT watch collectors) through his mother’s id. I gave them our group and page details promised that I will post the pictures of my Aditya watch pretty soon. I also asked Mr. Satyanarayana to get him an Aditya, which he promised the kid immediately. I was quite happy to see the interest of next generation in these watches. The future thus will remain promising for HMT.

So Aditya, Here is my Aditya watch for your viewing pleasure...enjoy..

Thursday, July 24, 2014

HMT watch hunt during my recent visit to Ahmedabad

I recently visited Ahmedabad, capital of Gujarat state in India. The occasion was my younger brother’s marriage and like all Indian weddings there were a lot of things to be done. In a nutshell I had a very busy schedule. During my visits to the various markets I would often excuse myself and slip into watch shops to check if they had any HMT watches in their stock. However, I always got the same reply “HMT Watch Company is closed for more than a decade now”. I would often explain to them that the company is not closed and they still produce watches. This would lead to a debate and as I had neither the time nor the energy for such endless debates I would conclude the discussion by thanking them for their advice and if they knew of any places in Ahmedabad where I could still find HMT watches. To this one of the old watch shops in Vastrapur advised me to explore watch shops located in the Gandhi road market. I thanked him and decided to explore the area once I had some time at hand.
During the marriage ceremony I was surprised to observe that my brother’s father in law was wearing an HMT Kajal watch. When I suggested that we have the same taste when it comes to watches he gave me a surprised look. Later he told me that he got his Kajal automatic watch as a gift at the time of his marriage in 1978. His elder brother is also a loyal HMT customer and he was wearing his HMT white dial Janata during the ceremonies. Sighting an HMT watch in Gujarat was quite a pleasant surprise to me as I was given an impression that there were no takers for these humble low cost, quality watches in the rich state of Gujarat.
After the marriage concluded, I had a day to myself before my travel back to Bangalore. I decided to explore Gandhi road which is also known as the watch, stationery and electronic market of Ahmedabad. I checked all the shops located in that area and discovered that only a very few of them had HMT watches in stock. The one worth mentioning is the Master Watch Company. It is located on Gandhi road and is an authorized HMT watch dealer for more than fifty years. They have a rich stock of HMT mechanical and automatic watches in their shop. I bought an HMT Janata from them at the company price with a proper bill and warranty card. 
Stock of Mechanical and Automatic watches at master watch company at Gandhi Road

Stock of Mechanical watches at Lakshmi watch company at Gandhi Road
I also visited the erstwhile HMT watch company retail outlet next to the famous Italian bakery in the Bhadra area. This showroom was closed down 3-4 months back but still had the company signboard on the shop. 
Erstwhile HMT company retail outlet in Ahmedabad.
Very close to this erstwhile showroom is a shop named – National Watch Company. They have a good stock of HMT watches including some with repainted dials (they claim it’s in-line with public demand). I suggest buyers to use their discretion while buying watches as they might end up getting a watch with repainted dial. I bought a rare 2012 Ranibagh factory made Jawan watch from them with a proper bill and a guarantee card.
Stock of mechanical and automatic watches at National watch company near Italian Bakery in Bhadra area of Ahmedabad
Both these watch shop owners claimed that though the demand for these watches is less still they get regular queries and visits from HMT watch fans. They felt quite sad at the current state of the humble watch manufacturing giant and wished if it could regain its days of glory.
Trophies of my watch hunt in Ahmedbad - L to R HMT Jawan and Janata -  2012 production from HMT Factory no 5 located at Ranibagh city in Uttaranchal state of India 
As I left Ahmedabad for my return journey to Bangalore, I felt sad that the land of Mahatma Gandhi  whose simple thoughts and great ideas and efficiency changed the destiny of our nation had very few takers for the watches that replicate his way of life. I hope this blog helps the HMT fans in Guajrat to find their beloved HMT watches in Ahmedabad.
A wrist shot of HMT Trishna taken at the Gandhi Ashram in Sabarmati, Gujrat
Prashant Pandey

Friday, April 11, 2014

HMT Akarsh - An attractive watch

Akarsh means attractive. True to its name this is a very attractive watch from HMT watches and at the same time one of the most unspoken watch from HMT. I remember picking up the first Akarsh watch from a dealer in Bangalore. Its blingy yet elegant look really attracted me. It goes well even as a dress watch.

I shared the pictures on our facebook page and quite a few people loved it and asked me to help them get this watch. Since then I was constantly looking for this watch to help other watch fans get one for themselves. In this quest, a few days back I was informed by one of my dealer friends that he has an Akarsh watch. I thought I will go and check it out on behalf of a friend. However, when I saw the watch it was a different variant and I loved the watch the moment I saw it. The sober grey dial has a hint of mischief with the light reflecting off the dial’s contours was quite different than the other blingy variant I have. 

I love this watch and the decision to buy this watch was immediate.  As I write about the watch, it sits proudly on my wrist knowing well that it would be one of those watches that would get a lot of my wrist-time. I really feel that I was lucky to get both these watches as a new old stock watches. This watch is highly recommended to all HMT watch fans.         

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

The case of the HMT watch in the Tool Box

My friend teased me by saying “I knew you would love this watch”. “Yes it’s lovely” I said and left him with the amused expression on his face.
This watch was found in a dilapidated condition in a tool box . Yes, In a tool box !!. My friend told me that he has found this old Janata watch that he believes belonged to his grandfather. He found it at the bottom of an old tool box in the attic of his house. The watch was in a bad state. The case-back and the acrylic dome of the watch had cracked open. The second’s hand was missing and the dial had a lot of dirt on It.
I decided to take up this project of restoring the watch. The original threaded screw-off caseback of the watch indicated that the watch was made in the year 1976 in the Bangalore factory 2.To restore it I had to find original spare parts from Janata watches that were manufactured in the 1970s. I checked with quite a few watch repairers for the spares but with little success. After a month of inquiry I finally got a call from a watch repairer. He told me that he has found an original HMT Janata’s caseback that was manufactured around the same time as the one I was trying to restore. It belonged to a Janata watch made in Bangalore factory 2 in the year 1978. He also helped me with getting a new acrylic dome and a second’s hand. The original crown was missing so i searched hard and got the same. The movement was serviced and a new acrylic dome was installed. The biggest problem was cleaning the dial. Most of the watch repairers said a big no to me as any attempt at cleaning the dial might damage it further. Therefore I decided to clean the dial on my own. I used the vacuum cleaners meant for cleaning laptops to the air pressure cleaner pump used by servicemen to get the dial cleaned. I also paint brushes to remove the stuck up dirt and the finished product is here for you to see now – I think my efforts did pay off.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

HMT Watch showcasing - An HMT watch lover's delight

It all looked like a dream to us. Yes, the much awaited and much doubted HMT watch showcasing finally got organised on 18th January 2014.This was the first time in the history of HMT watches that such an event was organised for the fans of HMT watches. After continuous discussions with the HMT leadership for the last couple of months we were finally able to organize this event.
The day began with HMT lovers bubbling with enthusiasm reaching the HMT Bhavan showroom (our assembling point). We had a quick round of introduction and as we shook each other’s hands, our eyes (as always) checked the wrists of every person we met. Every glance on one’s wrist would end up with a compliment and a mental note was made of a new addition to our never ending wish-list of HMTwatches. We quickly browsed the watches displayed in the showroom and left for our venue in Jalahalli.

HMT watch fans outside the HMT bhavan showroom Jalahalli

We reached the venue in good time and were received warmly by the HMT staff. All of us were quite excited to see so many HMT watches under one roof. While we were the first ones to arrive other HMT watch fans kept on trickling as we browsed through the various showcases displaying the watches. 

HMT watch Fan's browsing the watches displayed in the showcasing

HMT staff had very thoughtfully segregated the watches in different showcases. Watches from different categories were displayed separately.

Tennemax and the analog-digital watches

Quartz watches for ladies and gents– This included the HMT Roman series moon phase and chronograph watches and the famous Chandan watch (it has a sandalwood bezel)

Handwinding and automatic ladies and gents watches – Pocket watch, excel,suraj, roman automatic, shakti series, etc were displayed


Zap and pace quartz watches – Zap watches are kid’s watches that have Disney cartoon characters displayed on the dial/case. Pace and Sundar watches were made keeping the teenage customers in mind. These came in attractive colours and were quite durable.  

 Astra series – The digital chronograph watches from HMT

HMT Table and alarm clocks – This was a surprise for a lot of people who never knew that HMT made table and alarm clocks. 

All of us got the HMT price lists and latest catalogue of watches along with the New Year calendar.HMT fans shared their suggestions, ideas and concerns with the HMT marketing leadership. We also got an overview of the HMT watches and its evolution. This was the first time HMT leadership and fans got a common platform to share their ideas and concerns and the opportunity was utilized well.

HMT Overiview session in progress

Below are some of the points that we discussed and key decisions that were made on the day:
  • 1.        For some of the rare watches like HMT Kohinoor electric blue dial, excel etc HMT team agreed to consider the idea of producing a batch exclusively for us if we have an order of 100 watches. We will initiate the process of confirmation with the HMT fans soon on our page.
  • 2.        The marketing team suggested that they can share the regular updates on product launches, discount sales etc directly by creating an email group. We will have to collate and share our email-ids with them for this initiative.
  • 3.        We had more than 30 HMT fans visiting this watch showcasing that got organised for a couple of hours only and thus encouraged by the response a decision was taken to organize another showcasing event in the coming few months where a much higher number of watches will be displayed.
  • 4.        We gave a list of watches that we wanted along with our names and contact numbers and HMT assured us that the same will be arranged for us. We were also given an email id where we could drop an email with our wish-list and we were assured that the team will help us in getting the watches we want.
  • 5.        We requested the HMT team to arrange a factory visit to the watch factory in Bangalore to observe how automatic watches are made. HMT team assured that they will try and get this arranged for us in near future.
  • 6.        A lot of us were keen on understanding the HMT mechanical and automatic watch movement. Thus, we requested the HMT team to organize a one/two day crash course aimed at providing an insight on this subject. We will initiate the process of enrolling interested people on our page and will share it with the concerned team in HMT to organise it at the earliest. 
  • 7.        We were asked by HMT marketing team to buy watches from HMT showrooms and authorized dealers only at the company price with the proper bill and guarantee card. We were given the price-list as well so that we would know the prices of watches we want. We were asked to report against any individuals and dealers who are selling watches without documentation and at prices higher than the company’s sales price. We were assured that proper action will be taken against them.

The group photo

Wristshots Galore

At around 1 pm we proceeded towards the HMT factory outlet. One of the most noteworthy watches that were bought from the showroom was an HMT Sujata hand winding watch. This watch was the first ladies mechanical watch from HMT and it came in golden and white dial variants, along with HMT prabha, skeleton steel automatic watches etc.

HMT Watch Factory, Bangalore

HMT Watches factory outlet, Bangalore

Shopping Time

We then moved to the CSD Jalahalli showroom to continue our shopping spree and bought watches like Indra, mahaveer, ankit, amit etc.

HMT Watches CSD , Jalahalli outlet

A quick view at the watches inside the store

Once we were done with our shopping we exchanged courtesies and most of us called it a day. A bunch of us decided to break for lunch at Kamat restaurant next to the Jalahalli showroom. As we enjoyed the lunch in the company of our friends personal experiences and stories of HMT watches added flavor to our meal.

Jaideep and Karthik who had come down from Chennai for this event wanted to continue with their shopping and I was delighted to accompany them. Me and my friend Rahul took them to the city market area where I helped them in purchasing watch straps, watch repair equipment etc. I had identified some shops that kept some stock of old HMT watches and from there I bought myself a Gaurav mechanical watch while Karthik bought himself a Blue dial Trisul and Arun handwinding watches. It was already 8 pm when we decided to conclude the day with a promise to meet again we left for our respective destinations.

To conclude, we would like to thank the entire team at HMT Bangalore specially the marketing and after sales team for showing faith in us and organizing this event. Trust me friends it was not easy and till the last moment uncertainty shadowed this event and had it not been for the passionate team at HMT Bangalore this event would have never happened.

I would like to request each one of you HMT watch lovers, to act as a brand ambassador of these great watches and spread the word far and wide. It’s important that we buy original HMT watches from authorized HMT dealers to ensure that the company gets much needed revenue to ensure its survival. Trust me its each one of us that can make it happen for HMT watches.