By Sharmi Ghosh Dastidar | Express News Service | Published: 02nd December 2017 10:00 PM |
A strange dichotomy plagues us Indians. Even as we harp on the superiority of indigenous craftsmanship, we dither from lauding it in the same breath as foreign brands. An afternoon spent with Gaurav Mehta, the owner of Jaipur Watch Company, India’s first luxury watchmaker, shed light on this situation in the country’s haute horology market.
The country’s first designer of bespoke watches, Mehta’s teenage fixation with old coins, medals and vintage bric-a-brac veered him towards watches. At 12, he could dismantle and reconstruct one like a pro. Owning 200 exquisite HMT timepieces, among other timeless labels, JWC creates some of most precious and technically sound horlogerie that are as covetable as the Cartiers and Omegas.
Even as we pen this, JWC’s pret collection of handcrafted watches are a sellout in the market. This collection consists of coin watches and Austrian Crystal Watches. They have also been working on bespoke gold watches. There are four types of antique coin watches created by Mehta’s label—Imperial Wristwear, King’s Wristwear, Imperial Wristwear II (this has been introduced recently in the market) and the Titanium Wristwear (about to launch).
Harbouring a passion for numismatics since childhood, one day, Mehta did something that would eventually lay the foundation for his company. “I built quite a collection of British India coins. I also used to open up watches to see how they work and put them together again. One day, I fit a coin in one. When I wore the watch, it got a lot of attention,” says Mehta, who has a master’s degree in risk management from the UK.
The company’s collection of watches has an unmistakably royal touch; some have actual coins in them. Most of them are uncirculated coins (UNC), acquired to be used as a motif in watches. “The coins are 60-70 years old. They always have to be in an unused condition. I get UNCs from vendors, coin sellers and get them certified from senior numismatists. If there is a hint of scratch or damage they cannot be used.”
JWC’s USP, as Mehta likes to believe, is the fact that it is the only place where one can find excellent horology combined with numismatics in the form of the coin watches. “Our watches bring together ancient coins from the British era into the watch dials and the efficiency of a Swiss machine. Created with utmost care to ensure that we create memorabilia that is worth passing down generations, every coin in our watch collection undergoes a range of tests for authenticity and quality. We set out to create a fusion of the contemporary with the ancient.”
The company makes limited edition pieces. The designs are not repeated once one collection is sold out. Like the Imperial Wristwear, the watch that the company started with, was a 300-unit limited edition surgical grade stainless steel timepiece, consisting of four variations. This collection is sold out.
JWCs are bought by people who are intrigued by a fine Indian watch and people who have a heart for Indian history. “The second set of clients are those looking for something personalised and limited to one design.”
The coins are procured from numismatists, personal collectors and auctions all over the world. “Then we sift through to keep the best ones. This is the most time-consuming process as we adopt a high rejection rate in order to ensure quality. It takes about a month or two to get the desired quantity and quality of coins,” says Mehta.
Considering that Mehta’s watches are all handcrafted—the first design blueprint is created by him—the price points are quite friendly. The pret collection starts from Rs 16,000 and goes up to Rs 55,000. The bespoke gold watches are priced Rs 2 lakh onwards. A lover of all things vintage, Mehta’s company is a strongly ‘Make in India’ initiative, built to cater to the niche market. “I have been collecting HMT watches because I find them so elegant. Because of skewed market mechanics such a beautiful watch company ceased to exist anymore. That is sad and also a learning on what not to do. Our watches are a product of innovation, with a subtle hint of tradition. We aim to provide bespoke luxury watches to connoisseurs which will remain as their family heirloom,” ends Mehta on a positive note.
Top five wristlets that caught every gentleman’s eye in 2017
Cartier 18k Rose Gold & Diamond Tank Anglaise Extra-Large Model
This rectangular edition of the brand’s legendary Tank line has a case made of 18-carat rose gold with a diamond bezel. The gold and diamond frame is offset by a silver lacquered face and a blue arm mechanism which also contains a calendar date mechanism. This timepiece is water-resistant to 100 ft.
Price: Rs 21,59,210 approx
Patek Philippe 5078R-001—Rose Gold—Grand Complications
This timepiece from one of the foremost luxury watch brands in the field features a white face encased in rose gold, secured with a brown alligator pattern band. A beautiful enamel dial in a 38-millimetre case comes in a sapphire crystal case backing. Features include analog mechanical functionality, self-winding and a chime with two gongs.
Price: Rs 1,05,86,265 approx
Rolex Yacht-Master II
The Yacht-Master II, which was first offered in 2007, has a 44-millimetre stainless steel casing which incorporates gold, typical of a Rolex watch. The watch is analog with a blue Cerachrom insert made from a ceramic material. The hour markers are 18-carat gold, contrasted with blue watch arms.
Price: Rs 28,11,169 approx
Girard-Perregaux Vintage 1945
This label’s watches are a bit more exclusive than other Swiss brands because the company produces fewer of them a year than most other makers. This one incorporates a square face design containing an analog dial mechanism. Watch faces are available in silver, black or white and bands come in brown or black leather.
Price: Rs 24,14,184 approx
Audemars Piguet Royal Oak
Offered in eight variations, each Royal Oak watch is completely handmade with cases in 18-carat pink gold or silver. The face comes in a choice of onyx black or pearl white with diamond-graved bridge bevels. Features include movement thickness with module of 4.26 mm, bidirectional automatic winding and 60 hour power reserve.
Price: Rs 6,29,000 approx
Five best-sellers that topped women’s watch-lists this year
Ballon Blanc de Cartier
Inspired by the roaring 20s and the era’s glittering bracelets, this combines the design skills of Cartier with fine Swiss quartz movement. The dial is made of lacquered white mother of pearl and the case is available in 18-carat rose or white gold, with two rows of solitaire diamonds on the bezel.
Price: Rs 92,00,000 approx
Blancpain Women Jour Nuit
This may be Blancpain’s most stunning design ever. A day-night disc turns twice a day with varying blue hues and intricate designs symbolising the changing sky. But what’s most mesmerising? The sun is made from 50 yellow sapphires and the moon from 50 diamonds, with another 14 diamonds to represent the stars.
Price: Rs 34,63,948 approx
A Lange and Sohne Saxonia Mother-Of-Pearl and Diamond Watch
This is not just a watch, it’s a work of art. The 18-carat white gold case has an impeccably cut mother-of-pearl dial, with a smaller second hand dial at the bottom. Small, sparkling diamonds mounted on the bezel surround the face, and a white alligator strap completes the understated yet breathtaking look.
Price: Rs 9,44,216 approx
Bvlgari Serpenti Incantati
Bvlgari has been producing Serpenti jewellery and watches since the 1930s, but this latest iteration is the first to feature a serpent winding itself around the dial. With a choice of pink or white gold case, 116 pavé diamonds are set along the length of the serpent and ringing the dial.
Price: Rs 26,42,692 approx
Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso Squadra Lady Duetto Pink Gold
This has a square face that’s silvered and sunray-brushed with large gold-plated numerals, and reveals a black rear dial with a visible oscillating rotor. The water-resistant case is made from pink gold and 73 pavé diamonds totalling 1.25 carats. It comes with a self-winding movement and black alligator leather strap.
Price: Rs 22,78,629 approx
5 Best Fitness Tracker Watches of 2017
Garmin Vivosmart HR+
What makes this stand out amongst a sea of fitness trackers is its built-in GPS. The extra piece of technology allows it to use satellites to see how far and how fast you travel during almost any activity, whether it be running or rollerblading. It can also provide precise data about your workout that other fitness bands cannot. Besides, it counts steps, calories, floors climbed and minutes of intensity, while helping you to stay connected with notifications for email, text, call and social media.
Price: Rs 12,918
Fitbit Charge 2
Built for both all-day use and workouts, this fitness wristband features PurePulse technology, which continuously monitors your heart rate to provide insight into your cardio fitness. It also boasts all-day monitoring for steps, distance, calories burned, floors climbed and active minutes, as well as auto sleep tracking. Along with being a tracker and watch, it also displays call, text, and calendar alerts.
Price: Rs 9,686
Samsung Gear Fit2
This also boasts a built-in GPS so that you can accurately map your run, track every step and get accurate real-time stats. The advanced GPS device also monitors your daily activity to track and provide information on calories burned, floors climbed, steps, heart rate and sleep quality. Another great feature is its music capabilities, which allow you to store your favourite songs or connect to your phone with Spotify to access millions of tracks.
Price: Rs 12,272
This one’s essentially a personal trainer on your wrist. It provides real-time audio coaching to help talk you through your workouts, including, running, cycling and boxing. So, just when you feel like giving up, this motivating Moov tracker will chime in your ear with helpful words of encouragement such as “You’re 10 metres behind your target. Push a little harder; you can still beat your goal.”
Price: Rs 3,875
TomTom Spark 3
Although it can track all your activities, including cycling, swimming and gym workouts, it’s especially great for running. The GPS watch can measure time, distance, speed, pace and calories burned while providing live stats so that you can get the most out of your run. It also offers route exploration, which allows adventurous wearers to safely explore new trails with the information needed to get back to the start.
Price: Rs 8,396