Spotlight on India’s luxury watches

On India’s watch: Nirupesh Joshi’s Bangalore Watch Company

Time does tick quickly. Bangalore Watch Company (BWC), the country’s first fine watch microbrand, has already turned a year old. Started by former tech consultants and couple, Nirupesh Joshi and Mercy Amalraj, the company was inspired by their weekend jaunts through the boutiques of watchmakers like A Lange & Sohne, Jaeger leCoultre and Vacheron Constantin while living in Hong Kong. They moved to Bengaluru and turned their excitement into an enterprise. They taught themselves everything about fine watchmaking, and designed and rolled out their first limited edition, the Renaissance Automatic, a men’s dress watch with a mid-century aesthetic.

“We’ve shipped our watches to over 29 countries in the last year. And 35% of our clients are based overseas,” says Joshi. “Most are interested in owning a luxury Indian product, and the others are attracted by its novelty.” Encouraged by the response, the company rolled out their second edition: Renaissance Stri, a woman’s dress watch with Swiss movements and Swarovski crystals. “Within two weeks of launching it, we sold out, and are currently going into production for a second small batch.”

Homegrown appeal

Having 65% of their clientèle based in the country is great for such a young brand. “One of our major foundations has been direct engagement with the watch-owner; we never intended to go into retail,” he says. To grow the fine watchmaking industry (since there hasn’t been an Indian luxury watch brand, people are unaware), they’ve started going on the road, hosting closed-door, invite-only experiential shopping stops in cities like Mumbai and Singapore. “We just wrapped up one in Ahmedabad, where we hosted a fine watchmaking masterclass. We broke down the differences between different watches and their mechanisms, and also briefed participants on the six things to look for in luxury watches,” explains Joshi.

On India’s watch: Nirupesh Joshi’s Bangalore Watch Company

Are there challenges selling in a country that doesn’t have as many takers for luxury watches as, say, Europe? “While it is true that Europeans buy more luxury watches, India is a growing market with more disposable incomes and it won’t be long before we are an even more vibrant market,” he explains.

And the growing crop of millennials who sport smartwatches and fit-bits are possible customers, too. “They’re used to having something on their wrist. We’ve seen that this customer base always grows out from, say, the Apple smartwatch to a smartwatch from Tag Heuer. In time, they come to appreciate fine watches.” But he believes “those who don’t like to wear anything on their wrists are a problem for the whole watch industry, not just us”.

Rooted in nostalgia

BWC adds an Indian aesthetic to their brand’s story, too, choosing to base themselves out of the home of erstwhile watch giants like HMT and Hegde & Golay. “We do all the designing, assembling and quality checks in Bengaluru, but we shop internationally for our components (movements from Switzerland, sapphire glass from Japan, steel casing from Hong Kong). We love to work within the watch-making ecosystem in the country, and selectively work with Indian manufacturers supplying to Swiss watch companies,” he says.

On India’s watch: Nirupesh Joshi’s Bangalore Watch Company

They’ve also found other subtle, sentimental ways of tipping their hat to Bengaluru’s past trysts with watchmaking. In their Renaissance Automatic, the movement was the Citizen Japan’s Miyota 9015, which was a nod to HMT’s entire team going to Citizen Japan in 1960 to learn watchmaking.

“Our third rollout, available in October, finds its inspiration in India’s aviation history. With Bengaluru and HAL having a big hand to play in this story, this is our way of acknowledging and building on the many histories of this city,” he concludes.

From ₹28,799 upwards, on

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Printable version | May 6, 2021 9:56:16 PM |

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