Thursday, September 25, 2014


It has been decided to shut down the HMT Watch Division after 53 years of its operations. It is said that HMT watches were a tribute to the manufacturing skills of India.  PM Jawaharlal Nehru called it (HMT watch) a jewel in India’s crown. HMT watches became a household name in India before Tata and other brands came as its competitors. My first watch, costing a princely sum of about Rs.70, sometime in 1965-66, was an HMT beauty.  Later, in the early 70’s, on my father’s requirement, I purchased, with a recommendatory slip from the PA of the Minister of Industries, a couple of watches from their retail outlet in Connaught Place in New Delhi and sent them to Jalandhar.  Later, in the early 80’s I was the Protocol Officer in the Ministry of External Affairs dealing with gifts to be exchanged with foreign dignitaries by our political and beaurocratic leadership. The HMT watches were one of the easy and acceptable options for presentation both to male and female recipients. In fact, we used to keep in stock a few HMT watches of different kinds to meet any immediate and sudden requirement. HMT watches did well. It appears that the company could not keep pace with the new market requirements. It is a pity.

My HMT watch
I still use HMT watches. Chairman of HMT gifted me in 1999 a commemorative watch issued at the silver jubilee of India’s Independence. I have an HMT pocket watch which I generally use with Nehru jackets and bandgala suits. These are my valued possessions. Sometimes things can go wrong without reason. In 1993, I accompanied a high level official delegation to Riga,  Latvia. As usual the gifts were exchanged at the end of the tour. Our delegation carried good HMT watches for the senior officials. After breaking away from the USSR, Latvia became independent in 1991 only. They were yet to establish protocol procedures. One of the recipients opened the gift there itself and wanted to show it around. On opening the gift, to our utter surprise, one of the hands of the watch was broken. It was an uncalled for embarrassment. Luckily, we had an additional gift (HMT watch) and we promptly changed the broken watch. I am sure our Latvian friends understood our right and honourable gesture.