Younger set gives a new lease of life to the timepiece

After staying ‘watch-free' for much of the last decade, it is as if the younger generation has recently discovered the joy of an emblematic timepiece.

Only a few years ago, time was running out for wristwatches. The omnipresent cellphone and the in-vogue iPods had almost sounded the death knell of the classic wristwatch. Ubiquitous clock-equipped electronic devices made wristwatches seem like an irrelevant commodity of yesteryears.

But, just as they were ready to be written off as antiques to join the august company of the vintage video cassette recorder, gramophone and walkman player, the mobile phone generation literally gave the timepiece a new lease of life.

Fashion accessory

“A wristwatch today is not really a requisite to tell time. It has become a fashion statement. As youngsters are creating an all new market for wristwatches, several, for the sake of posterity, have been collecting them by the dozen,” said Laxman Chugani, proprietor of the 60-year-old Ramesh Watch Gallery, in the city.

With its retro appeal, the wristwatch is now experiencing an uptick. The bold, huge and elegant sundial watch, so old that it could in all probability be found in a caveman's abode, has now become a fashion accessory with its innumerable features.

“Watches with huge dials and features like the chronograph, alarm, stop watch and sub-dials are what make for the perfect watch. We don't mind paying a sum for them really,” says Nishant, an employee in a software firm, just out of college.

Even as the chronograph, with additional stopwatch functions, is most sought after among youngsters, retailers affirm that barely any use the feature which is relevant only for sportspersons.

"Watches, like cars, are status symbols. Your watch, sleek or big, defines your personality. Right now, there is no clearer indication of cool than wearing a watch,” says Smridula, a postgraduate student.

Nostalgia

Big retailers are today trading in nostalgia. Heritage brands like Rolex and Rado, which at a time cost Rs.15,000 today begin at Rs.3,00,000. And yet in this race, they are not far behind Fasttrack, Tommy Hilfiger, Swatch or Tissot (hot picks for those in their 20s and 30s), with the middle-aged affluent raring to pick a piece. Those with their grandfather's Rolex today are, indubitably, an envied lot.

Watches may seem impractical, frivolous and often expensive ways to define individual character, but that is just another way of saying they're in fashion.