Iconic P. Orr and Sons building plays host to a reunion

Andrew Orr and Antonia were greeted by longtime employees and customers.

Andrew Orr and Antonia were greeted by longtime employees and customers.   | Photo Credit: B. Jothi Ramalingam

The great great grandson of the founder comes calling

The iconic P.Orr and Sons building on Anna Salai, which has stood the test of time and been witness to many timeless moments, played a host to a historical and emotional reunion on Thursday evening.

Andrew Orr, the great great grandson of Peter Orr, founder of P. Orr and Sons, and his wife Antonia were greeted by some of the long-time employees and customers, who recalled their association with the watch company, which opened in 1849.

The couple was greeted by 88-year-old M. Murugesan, who has been working with P. Orr and Sons since he was 12 years old.

Built by British architect Robert Chisholm in the Byzantine and Indo-Saracenic styles of architecture, P. Orr and Sons has sold about 40 lakh watches so far.

The couple was treated to dance performances and also interacted with the distributors of the company.

Voyage of discovery

A medical practitioner by profession in Scotland, Mr. Andrew Orr said it was his ninth visit to India. “It was a voyage of discovery for us. My father didn’t follow into business. But, I grew up listening to fabulous stories about Chennai and P. Orr and Sons,” he said.

It was in 1994 that Mr. Andrew Orr first came to the city to renew his connection. “It was like magic when all this wonderful history came to life. I fell in love with the city and its people and visited frequently. This company, in this heritage building with ultra-modern facilities, has been growing,” he said.

He earlier narrated a brief history about how his family arrived in then Madras in 1843 and joined watchmakers George Gordon and Co. He recalled Peter Orr to be a goldsmith apart from watch and chronometer maker.

“I have also developed an interest in gold and precious stones. I have heard stories about diamonds handled in P. Orr and Sons,” he added.

Book on the cards

Valli Ramaswami, chairperson, P. Orr and Sons, too recalled her long association with the Orr family.

We now have 14 branches and want to expand and reach out to the younger generation,” she said.

Mr. Andrew Orr plans to write a book on the history of the company. “I have spent a lifetime collecting details and pictures. I hope to finish it and visit again soon,” he said.

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Printable version | Mar 31, 2020 1:10:04 AM |

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