Stop all the clocks: HMT Watches to shut down

The government ordered legendary Indian watch manufacturers HMT Watches to shut, after more than 5 decades of expert craftsmanship couldn’t turn profit.


If you’ve been to Bangalore’s Lal Bagh gardens, chances are you’ve probably seen the iconic 7-metre wide Floral Clock set that sits in the lawns just as you enter the main gate:

Pic - indiamike

Pic – indiamike

That clock was made by HMT Watches, a government owned subsidiary of the Hindustan Machine Tools company, that is now being shut down after more than 5 decades of its existence.

If the name sounds familiar, it should—HMT Watches were market leaders in watch manufacturing and sales, being the first to introduce a multitude of models and different kinds of watches into India. One model, called ‘Kanchan’ was even known as the ‘dowry watch’, simply because entire weddings would be put on hold until the watch was made a part of the marriage agreement.

Pic - icultist | Flickr

Pic – icultist | Flickr

Our grandfathers would sport HMTs, not because it was a status symbol, but because it was a home-grown piece of manufacturing that actually worked and stood the test of time, much like the Hindustan Ambassador, which was also recently killed.

Started in collaboration with Japan’s Citizen Watches in 1961, HMT Watches were once the epitome of precision manufacturing and production. The following video, that was made in the 1970s, documents their rise to fame and the way they handled their production:

From clock towers to temple clocks, to the HMT Bhavan on Bellary Road in Bangalore, HMT Watches were literally everywhere:

The HMT clock at Chamundeshwari Temple, near Mysore Pic - Ryan | Flickr

The HMT clock at Chamundeshwari Temple, near Mysore
Pic – Ryan | Flickr

However, HMT’s dominance was slowly encroached upon by newer companies with newer technology in the 1980s, and even capital infusion into the company couldn’t turn the odds back to their favour. They constantly reported ever-growing losses, that last of which came in 2012-13, which saw the company incur losses of Rs. 242.47 crores.

The shutting down of HMT Watches isn’t about the loss of just another company. It’s about the death of an iconic symbol in Indian history, the final breath of a once-great entity that people related to; the death of the “time keepers to the nation”.

5 things you probably didn’t about HMT Watches

1. HMT Watches were the first company to introduce Quartz watches into the Indian watch market. Yet, HMT is still one of the only remaining watch makers to regularly use mechanical components in their watches.

2. They were also the first to introduce Braille watches.

3. Indian movie star Sunny Deol still wears an HMT Watch, even though he has to wind it up every day.

4. The last HMT store is in Delhi’s Connaught Place.

5. HMT’s first watches were released by then Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru.


  ABOUT THE AUTHOR
When he isn’t wasting his time reading about pop-culture, Chris goes about his day practicing pop-culture and finding fault with most of the world. As Associate Editor at The Alternative, Chris copy edits, packages content for web, and keeps night finding newer ways to get audiences to discover and engage with The Alternative. more

   FOLLOW US

   SUBSCRIBE TO OUR NEWSLETTER
  Top Stories on TA






  Top Stories in LIFESTYLE






   Get stories like this in your inbox

  ABOUT THE AUTHOR
When he isn’t wasting his time reading about pop-culture, Chris goes about his day practicing pop-culture and finding fault with most of the world. As Associate Editor at The Alternative, Chris copy edits, packages content for web, and keeps night finding newer ways to get audiences to discover and engage with The Alternative. more

Discuss this article on Facebook

  • vick

    Dude.. “4. The last HMT store is in Delhi’s Connaught Place.” is very wrong… HMT watches are produced in Bangalore.. which is where the headquarter is… and there are many stores still open in Bangalore.. just two days back i visited one (feb 28 2015) … :-p

  • vick

    Err…. that would be 4 days back…. pardon my math