Prabhakar Mundkur: Mechanical watches – the new piece of jewellery

08 Nov,2021

By Prabhakar Mundkur

 

Prabhakar MundkurThere was a time when mechanical watches were considered the simpler and cheaper option to buying a watch. When I was growing up to have an automatic watch was considered superior and expensive. Then of course came the quartz watch which was supposedly more accurate and save the change of a battery every few years, was supposed to work tirelessly forever almost. In fact quartz watches didn’t really cost much more because they had fewer guarantee claims, since they were almost fault-free. Also, the amount of labour perhaps was much less than a mechanical watch or one with automatic movements.

 

My first watch was a mechanical and it was an HMT, those considered the pride of India. If I am not mistaken, they cost about Rs 500 those days in the 60s. Over the last few years, I have been collecting the old mechanical HMT watches just to relive the magic of mechanical watches. My first project was to restore my father’s HMT Jubilee watch which was also probably bought sometime in the 60s.

 

Then a couple of years ago I noticed that the quartz and even automatic watches were no longer as fashionable as they were once upon a time and the clock had wound back to the mechanical watch in terms of fashion and exclusivity. Rolex for example introduced mechanical watches a few years ago. And they were not cheap. In fact, the price reversed your opinion that mechanical watches had to be cheap.

 

They were more expensive than quartz watches. The Louis Moinet mechanical on the left, for example, costs only about Rs 45 lakh!

 

Titan has done well to cash in on this trend of mechanical watches and have just launched their own range of mechanical watches in line with the global trend.

 

Again they are not cheap. The first watch I saw on their website was Rs 195,000. Which I think is a pretty steep price for a Titan given that the brand does not carry the same attraction as better known Swiss watches.

 

 

 

But mechanical watches are labour-intensive, handmade and produced in smaller quantities, making it more expensive to manufacture. The new TV spot highlights the inventiveness of mechanical things.

 

The story is about a damsel in distress on a lonely mountain road when her tyre gives away. Prince Charming in the usual formula for such stories passes by and noticing the damsel in distress and immediately starts to fix the girl’s bike. He pulls out what looks like a twig from the grass nearby and all the viewer can guess at this stage is that he is doing something to the wheel. Pull back to reveal that he has attached his front wheel to form the rear wheel of the girls cycle. A nice element of surprise there.

 

As a cyclist for many years I have never known anything like this to happen, in fact if one were to actually attempt this mechanical engineering feat I guess one would need a lot of tools (unlike our protagonist who tightens nuts with his bare hands). But I suppose it is eminently possible.

 

The man and woman then merrily cycle away with the Titan baseline for mechanical watches ‘Move your world’. The spot is nicely done. The fact that the couple wasn’t carrying the damaged tyre and seem to have just left it behind, is of course creative licence. All in all, I thought a good TV commercial that explains the ingenuity and labour involved in a mechanical watch with the cycling metaphor.

 

Someone once said that a watch over $200 is a piece of jewellery. The Titan mechanical is definitely a piece of jewellery.

 

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