Three hands, a case, a dial and movement held by a leather/metal band go into the making of a watch. But to earn the stamp of a micro-brand, it needs to be exclusively designed and meticulously timed. Though the choices in global micro-brands have grown multifold, there was no Indian micro-brand till recently. Inspired by the world of fine watch-making overseas, Nirupesh Joshi and Mercy Amalraj (both 36) left their tech careers behind in Hong Kong to start what is perhaps the world’s first Indian-origin watch micro-brand.
Two decades of technology experience spanning sales, quality assurance, solutions design, and strategy along with an eye for personal fashion allowed them to set up the Bangalore Watch Company (www.bangalorewatchco.in) in January 2017.
Headquartered in Bengaluru—the home of many watchmakers from India’s past—the company is set to launch its second collection during Diwali targeting the families. “Gifting is common during Diwali. We have started working on the designs that will be finalised soon. Pre-orders for our Diwali collection will open in September. It will be a simple, three hands watch with a chronograph and may be for women as the first one was for men. We are looking at exclusivity.”
After over a year of learning the trade, scouting for the best suppliers, design and prototyping, they debuted with their first collection—the Renaissance Automatic—in March, 2018. Joshi says, “A classic dress watch, the Renaissance draws inspiration from a time when watches were not just timekeeping instruments but identified with the wearer’s appreciation for timeless accessories. The casing is surgical grade stainless steel while the dials combine sophisticated craftsmanship. The movement is Citizen’s Miyota 9015 due to its unbeatable reputation while their signature shield motif is laser-engraved on the oscillating weight of the watch.”
They opened pre-orders for their first edition of 500 pieces in six different colours. Each watch was priced at `38,799. “The entire process from designing to the release of the first collection took eight months. While the cases were ordered from Hong Kong, the micro-parts were from Rajkot and leather from Bengaluru,” says Amalraj.
The founder-couple’s view of the Indian horology scene is that the market is bipolar. “And we are targeting customers between high-end and mid-segment, which is the ‘Bridge to Luxury’ segment. Sales have been very encouraging with online customers in India, US, Switzerland and five other countries,” she says.
The couple has invested their life savings for the company that hires staff on contract. They have hired an assembly unit at Kanakpura Road. “Each piece undergoes a 24-hour testing there. A watch is packed in lacquer-finished piano black wooden box. Each watch comes with a certificate of authenticity and the warranty cards are specially done in letterpress,” says Joshi. Aiming for two collections per year, they are hoping to produce exclusive designs. They may look at external funding later. “Opening our boxes, people should be awed at the quality and excellence of our micro-brand. In fact, we felt so happy when a customer remarked that he had purchased the Rolls Royce of watches,” adds Amalraj.
Recollecting their days in Hong Kong, the couple says, “We spent a lot of time in watch boutiques and always wondered why fine watch-making never took off in India. The closure of HMT in March 2015 was the last nail in the coffin.”
With new ideas and zeal, the couple is on a mission to bring about a customers’ movement in the days to come.