The global launch of the limited edition wristwatch created by Swiss luxury watch-makers Century and Rodeo Drive, with the image of Lord Venkateswara, here on Thursday, drew protests from Vishwa Hindu Parishad and other organisations.
The Rs.27 lakh handcrafted Swiss watch with an engraved image of Lord Venkateswara in gold and studded with rubies and emeralds on a white dial was launched amidst tight security even as the VHP activists protested at the venue of the launch as the wristwatch with the Lord’s image would be worn on the left hand.
The limited edition masterpiece with only 333 pieces has Lord Venkateswara carved out in enamel while the hour markers are set with diamonds. About 15 persons have placed their order, which will take about four months to get delivered.
The Telugu Desam MLA from Kalahasthi in Chittoor, Bojjala Gopalakrishna Reddy, alleged that the limited edition wristwatch was another instance of irregularities in the TTD. Mr. Reddy regretted that the Lord was made an object of commercial transactions.
However, Rodeo Drive, which conceived the concept, and the TTD played down the protests. Mr.Gautam Udayshankar, Director, marketing, Rodeo Drive said after the concept was conceived in November last year, he met the TTD Chairman and also the Executive Officer L.V.Subramanyam and offered to donate part of the sales proceedings of the wristwatches to the Balaji Institute of Surgery, Research and Rehabilitation for the Disabled (BIRRD) in Tirupati run by the TTD, he said.
Terming the controversy uncalled for, Mr. Subramanyam said there was nothing derogatory if the wristwatches adorned by the Lord’s image were cherished by the devotees. TTD, which had been associated with various charitable and social service activities, did not take it amiss when the Swiss watch maker came with the proposal to donate part of the sale proceeds to BIRRD. It was not a business deal, he added. Mr. Philip W.A. Klingenberg, President and CEO, Century Times Gems Ltd., said the revered brand of Lord Balaji would make their Swiss watch popular in India.