In a country like India, which has a rich heritage of jewellery making and legendary jewellery brands, why isn’t there a tradition of luxury watchmaking? It was a question that horology enthusiasts Nirupesh Joshi and his wife Mercy Amalraj often found themselves thinking. The duo had always been interested in watchmaking, and living in Hong Kong in 2015, they often spent their weekends in the boutiques of brands like A Lange & Sohne, Patek Philippe, Jaeger leCoultre and Vacheron Constantin. At the time Joshi was working for Akamai Technologies, and had been in the city for nearly a decade; Amalraj was a freelance mobile app developer and quality assurance engineer. In 2016, when they took a sabbatical and travelled the world, they made the decision to something about this subject they were so passionate about.
“We started researching on getting a watch brand off the ground, and slowly that research turned into a business plan. Later that year, we decided to quit our tech careers and moved back home to Bangalore. We set up our company in January 2017,” explains Joshi.
They launched Bangalore Watch Company the same year, with fine timepieces that have “a hint of India”. Their Renaissance watch collection, a decidedly retro-looking line, features automatic timepieces in three dial variations—Deep Anthracite, Grand Ivory, and Argentum. There are two kinds of bezels – stainless steel and PVD-coated rose gold – with vintage arrow-head indices and dauphine-shaped hands on the dial. The collection, Joshi says, is a tribute to the legendary Indian watch brand Hindustan Machine Tools (HMT). “We are kids from the 80s. We carry the same nostalgia for brands from the ‘80s and ‘90s as most people from that time. So HMT had a big impact in our early childhood, seeing our parents wear them to work,” elaborates Amalraj.
Nostalgia is also the reason behind the name. “Bangalore has been home for all our adult lives. It is where the heart is. It also has the most interesting associations to India’s watchmaking past: HMT and Hegde & Golay were headquartered here, and Titan’s majority operations are being run out of here now. So there was no better way to identify ourselves with the city,” explains the couple about the name.
BWC sources parts for its watches from all around the world, and the micro-assembly happens in a partner facility in Hong Kong and Shenzhen. The products are then brought over to Bangalore for final assembly and quality-check before being shipped off to customers worldwide. There is also a calculated thought behind tapping the aware and well-travelled Indian consumer. “People want to know where products come from, who made them, and how the raw-materials are sourced. There is a conscious and increasing demand for Indian-origin products, be it artisanal chocolates, single-origin coffee, clean-label beverages, clothing. It was only a matter of time before the trend caught on in horology,” says Joshi.
As expected, running a boutique watchmaking enterprise in India isn’t easy. Every day is a learning experience when it comes to technicalities like component sourcing, assembly, service, and import regulations. “We’re the first to do anything of this sort in the country. So we had to learn a lot ourselves. There is no established business model and no reference point,” says Amalraj. Inspite of this, the duo plans to expand into women’s timepieces, have at least two collections per year and “maybe even participate in a watch fair. Never say never,” says Joshi.
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