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