Monday, January 05, 2015

First advance booking, now auction... the life and times of the HMT Janta watch

I distinctly remember a trip that I took with my father and sister more than thirty years ago. This was a visit to the local watch store where we paid an advance and booked an HMT Janta wrist watch for my sister, which would be then ordered and available a fortnight later!

Yes, you read that right, advance booking for a wrist watch! That too for a watch that was called 'Janta' (meaning 'mass' rather than anything connoting special or exclusive) That was the kind of draw that HMT watches had at that time.

It was a big event, a watch was a much sought after accessory, and at that time, almost a rite of passage (I remember getting my first watch when I was in the 8th or 9th standard in school - which was my fathers watch that was first handed down to my elder brother, then my second brother and spruced up with a new strap and buffing for the dial, had reached me)

More recently HMT was in the news again, because the company was closing doors. And a dear friend informed me of old HMT watches being auctioned on an online marketplace. It brought back the memory of the trip to the watch shop to book this same model, so I joined the bid and got one.

Here it is, with a Government yellow dial and devanagari fonts, plus an old world steel strap that I had bought separately years ago.

So at least for me, the legend of HMT Janta lives on, first with the advance booking and now with the auction!