I was getting excited, after 7 days working
for very long hours I was finally in front of the shop that should carry the hmt
watches I was so much looking forward to buying. Last year around the same time
I had planned to buy a couple of hmt watches. I had read about them in Paul
Delury's article "Something
A Little Different" and found this very interesting. Watches made in India,
made by an originally government owned industrial conglomerate to supply the
vast Indian subcontinent with machinery, pumps and industrial machinery of all
kinds with movements produced under license from Citizen, that was interesting.
hmt is more then 100 years old and unfortunately the watch division is about to
disappear. Interestingly most Indian watch endusers or non-WIS prefer quartz
watches. 20 years ago hmt was the best and I was told, only Indian watch brand.
With the quartz revolution, other players entered the battle field. And TITAN
watch - a division of the largest Indian industrial, engineering and services
conglomerate - entered the competition fiercely and has conquered the wrist
watch market dominantly. Obviously the owning TATA family has also the rights to
distribute Timex and a couple of fashion brands. Otherwise I would not explain
why TITAN, Guess, Timex and Citizen seem to always appear next to each other in
the better watch shops.
Here I was in front of an obviously very busy shop in the middle of Dadar and at that moment I had no clue where in Bombay I was. We had made to many turns since we left the office about 40 minutes ago. I entered the shop and it was busy, very busy. Customers entered and left, most of them replacing batteries or depositing or picking up watch repairs. At first a younger sales person helped me. I realized quickly that he was not really knowledgeable about watches, but his English was the best, that is why I presume he was delegated to help me.
Of course the other customers looked curiously at the stranger browsing all those old mechanical hmts, not a very popular sight. Finally I was getting a bit impatient, the sales transaction was interrupted many times, half an hour gone and I had only selected one or two watches. Actually I should be on my way back to the office already. So I picked on older gentleman standing behind the counter which I assumed was one of the Kamdar brothers and told him that I had a lot of cash in my pockets that I would love to leave in his shop in exchange for new or new old stock hmt watches. That had the desired effect. With the younger sales person as translator, I was able to see what I wanted. And I was served a very nice tasting mint tea with milk, very refreshing and containing probably lots of caffeine. For a fraction of a second I was thinking whether it was safe to drink but then concluded it would have been insulting to refuse this nice gesture and guessed from the slightly bitter taste, it seemed that tea had brewed for quite a while. The older gentleman was very helpful indeed and went to his stockroom many names and came back with almost all the NOS watches he had on stock. I was happy and excited and left the shop half an hour later with 25 watches and very little of my Rupee cash.
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Kamdar and Kamdar, 187, Dr. Ambedkar Road, Dadar Mumbai - 14