Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Samsung and Watches? What is Next?

Indulgence!!!!!! is the word to describe The World of Watches. One is spoilt by the sheer choice available.There were the days of HMT, Allywyn and Richoh; and hence One has to limit himself despite
having the financial means. Counter situation is the Current one; Despite not having the financial means an enthusiast is forced to make means (shell out dough) if he dares to go a respectable watch showroom which necessarily need not to be located in a Prime area.

Being the way I am, I yet again embarked into this dangerous situation of ending up in a showroom though being fully aware of the dare consequences and asked the sales guy to show me some cheap chronograph with a stop watch. Max

ima was my idea of cheap chrono as I already bought one for about one grand only which was undoubtedly good but the chrono function was a little subtle. I wanted something more prominent (Read Heavier, Bolder and More Simultaneously moving Needles). So, I asked for the same without diverting my mind to the Swiss and Japanese beauties lying alongside specifying my requirements and more importantly Budget.

The sales guy showed me one Steele brand which I never heard of before. He said that it is a brand extension of Maxima and will cost me around 2k. Good deal I thought. So, I asked him to give a tangible feel of the product which he did. And guess what it completely disappointed me. The steel finish was poor though chrono feature was looking good. Rejected.

Next what? He again showed me some Casio models and then moved to Octane series. Not interested I said. I already have Casio Edifice. Octane is good but not my cup of tea. Then out of a sudden he showed me a Samsung watch. Samsung and Watches What the Hell I thought. The design was good and chrono function was prominent but idea of having a consumer durable company making watches didn’t gel with me. I asked him Do Samsung make watches or just put their logos on some other manufacturer like many other apparel watches in market like Allen Solly, Louis Philippe, Armani, Guess, etc. And he didn’t have a clue at all.

I looked many others but either they didn’t appeal me or plain out of budget. I once again had a look on the Samsung watch. It was pretty with a tasteful slight gold finish at the surrounding dial. The finish was excellent and the movement seems nice. But the eye sore was the poor leather strap which in no way doing justice to the watch.

Being the nagging customer I asked him to show some steel bracelets which he showed him by the dozens. Mostly useless stuff. I said something heavy and broad is what I asked for. Then, he showed me some real good ones. I shortlisted one of them. But again it was pure steel and no gold finish which was not in congruity with the watch.Is it possible to have the same bracelet but a little gold finish at the edges was my question. Sure Sir, I will search for it in the godown. And within 5 minutes out of no where he produced me a bracelet of my requirements.

I thought in my mind whether to go for Samsung or not but shed off my inhibitions. I liked the model, I liked the bracelet why shouldn’t I? So, after a little bit of filing the bracelet was adjusted for my watch and I came out happy from the showroom after paying by my card. The good thing about Plastic money is that you don’t feel the pinch at the time of purchase (though you may regret it later).

Finally coming to the subject itself I googled about Samsung making watches and see what I found that SWC (Samsug Watch Corporation) is the biggest watchmaker in Korea. They started exporting watches to overseas market in1986, by the brand name ’HAAS &CIE","SAMSUNG","SWC" to more than 40 countries. Their annual production is 1mil.pcs and is increasing each year.Though they are an independent subsidiary of Samsung Corporation with financial backing from Samsung and technical expertise from Seiko and Longines. And they have their presence in India since 2003. It is completely made in Korea and imported directly from Korea to India. It is good to find at least one thing Not Made in China. Even my Casio Edifice is encased in China.

Samsung What is Next?

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

11 September 2008:- Titan has collaborated with World Wildlife Fund India to launch a
unique range of watches inspired by some of India’s highly endangered
species. The idea is to spread awareness
in the country through a
collection of exclusively designed watches..

The Titan-WWF collection is inspired from six endangered species namely
the Tiger, Indian Rhino, Gangetic River Dolphin, Red Panda, Whale Shark
and Oliver Ridley Turtle. Novelist Shobha De unveiled this collection in Mumbai.

Titan has been a household name in India ever since it stepped in the world of horology. At first they collaborated with the American watch making giant Timex which eventually broke in the year 1998 and now Titan and Timex are the 2 main competitors in the lower and middle class strata of Indian watch industry.

Titan has a market share of 65% in the organized watch sector in India which is way ahead of its closest rival Timex. The success story of Titan has been a case study of all Management Courses. How Titan broke the Monopoly of HMT and more importantly changed the perception of Indians towards watches is purely exemplary.

That said apart the strong point of Titan was always Quality at an Affordable price. Titan was never priced unreasonably high though Tatas could have easily asked for a higher price point keeping in mind the Quality of their watches. On the other hand they never priced their items so low so they loose their aspirational value in the minds of consumers. Their pricing strategy is just too perfect which made Titan gain the Numero Uno position in which it is in now.

But it is not that Titan hasn’t had their share of failures..Titan failed miserably in Europe.Explaining why Titan failed to make a mark in Europe, Harish Bhat COO, Titan said in an interview that "Europeans are very conservative when buying watches. They look at it as as durable.If they were to spend money, they would go for a traditional Swiss brand. If people wanted a disposable, they picked up a Japanese watch. Italy and France have a marginal designer watch market, but that’s about it.We miscalculated on that. We spent (millions of rupees) on advertisements which we thought would help make a dent in the European market. It didn’t happen. We have learnt our lessons".

That said apart Surely Titan learnt their lessons and become one of the largest selling watch brands in the Middle East. Titan has been doing constant up gradations in their portfolio. They just never let it stale. Starting from Edge and Regalia; they gradually moved to Nebula which no doubt is the most affordable luxury watch in the world. Recently they added another feather to their cap by launching Nebula Gold Mechanical Watch which is the first from the stable of Titan which otherwise manufactures only quartz watches.

Talking about the latest WWF Collection it is an extension to their strategy of novelty. First they launched Heritage Collection about a year back based on the beautiful monuments of India including The Taj Mahal, Stambha, Lakshmi Vilas Place, Jharokha,Konark, Jantar Mantar, Ajanta, Mandala and Kurukshetra. This year Titan chose endangered animal species of India to be put on the dials. The result is this unique unisex Titan WWF collection. The collection based on 6 animal species has made inroads for 13 new designs in the already vast Titan portfolio.

Now coming to the actual review of the Titan WWF collection, I bought a Brown circular dialed leather strapped beauty. It’s base animal is Tiger so the claws are all over the dial to represent the carnivore.The most striking aspect of the watch is the second hand which is absent but still present..Sounds like an oxymoron...Well it isn’t...Because Titan has placed the seconds hand as in a chronograph but the needle is missing...Instead of the needle their is a tiny bulging dot which has got a circular movement which is a sure shot visual treat..Technically there is nothing new in this watch and it is a regular Titan quartz watch with no exceptional design..But the exceptional quality is the thought behind its making which surely deserves an applaud..Well done Titan...

Pricing wise as always it is justifiably priced between Rs 3000/- to Rs 3800/-. My watch model made me poorer by Rs 3250/- but made my collection much richer than the amount I paid. I don’t see much TV nowadays so can’t comment whether they have started airing a commercial for new collection. But I read somewhere that they are planning so in the near future. I hope it will be as good as their previous commercials which will bolster the sales of this niche Collector’s Collection..Best of luck Titan..Way to go..

Friday, September 5, 2008

Jacques du Manoir Pocket Watches

Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi's one worldly possession was an Ingersoll ‘Turnip’ pocket watch, which he wore tied on a string around his waist, hidden between the folds of his dhoti. As he bent down or stopped, the watch would spring free to dangle to reflect the setting suns rays. This one sight has been recorded by many journalists and biographers

What better way to start something with mentioning about Mahatama Gandhi and that too with a thing that is least talked about among all about the Mahatama.

With this I want to share some horological advances that world has witnessed for past many centuries. The history of pocket watch probably started in late 1400s when an Italian clock maker offered a pocket clock to the Marchese di Manta. However, pocket watches first appeared in the market in the 15th century when locksmiths from Nuremberg, Germany started manufacturing portable timepieces.

Pocket watches were a norm till World War I and wrist watches were just making way for them. It was considered very girlish wearing wrist watches. But it was this period only when the officers on duty recognized the ease of wrist watches and slowly pocket watches become a thing of past.Today, pocket watches are still in use but more as decorative and antique items and signify refinement and elegance.

That said apart any sort of horology interests me to no end and I sat my eyes on a living piece of history during my regular window shopping of watches. It was The Great India Mall, Noida and I was ambling (read ogling) in the Swiss Junction outlet which offers Swiss Military watches, Wenger watches,Hanowa watches, Cover watches,AC Carbinor watches, apart from other imported Swiss Made items like caps,bags, swiss knives,toys, etc. Swiss Junction outlet is basically a part of Network India Ltd. which is a listed company in Bombay Stock Exchange.

I must say I like a lot of watches there especially chronograph steel banded watches with a lovely red plus sign. But the thing that caught my fancy most was no ordinary wrist watch. It was a gold plated brass made pocket watch from "Jacques du Manoir" sitting pretty in its box and looking magnificent inside the glass door.

After ogling long I suppressed my carnal desires and returned back. But being a self proclaimed watch aficionado I searched what "Jacques du Manoir" is all about. To my pity I couldn't find much about the brand itself as there was no official website for the brand. All I could find was that Jacques du Manoir is a well know brand of Swiss made Pocket Watches featuring genuine Swiss movement and solid brass cases.

I searched harder but to no avail. But as it is said no effort is wasted if you work it out earnestly and though I couldn't gather much information about the brand but got well acquainted about the history of horology especially Pocket Watches. Pocket watches are living pieces of history. So, I shed off my inhibitions one day and returned back to "The Swiss Junction" outlet. I enquired about the watch and the owner told me that Jacques du Manoir pocket watch will cost me Rs 3990/-. Being an Indian I asked about discount. No discount, he said. But a day earlier there was a scheme in which the company was offering 15% discount. A little bit of negotiation and he agreed to give me a back dated bill so as to avail discount. Agreed and I rushed to the ATM counter as I couldn't pay by card for availing discount and finally after spending Rs 3392/- I got to lay my hands on the prized "Jacques du Manoir" my first ever Pocket watch.

Jacques du Manoir is a brand of Bolux group based in Grandval (Suisse) Switzerland. It comes with 2 years of international warranty. The case is made up of solid brass with beautiful engravings. There is a latch which on pressing outwards opens up the shell. The opening movement itself is butter smooth.The dial is a white one with a regular 3 hand movement along with date. It is based on quartz technology (would have been better if it was a mechanical movement).Jacques du Manoir has also some wrist watches in their portfolio though they looked fairly simple but still very very elegant ones. I liked one wrist watch from their portfolio in particular with Roman numerals and the seconds hand was like as in a chronograph. I wished to buy that one too but I restricted myself to my first love that was Pocket watch (To be honest I didn't had enough dough to cough).

Most importantly it brings you to travel back into time. It reminds me of old Hindi cinema in which Pran dressed in a 3 piece suit smokes a cigar and then takes out his pocket watch out of the suit. More recently in the movie "Thoda Pyar Thoda Magic", Ajay Devegan has shown possessing a pocket watch.Horology amazes me to no end and Swiss people are master horologists. Time and again, they have been tested by Japanese and Americans but their reign is still unchallanged.

P.S:- In between Pocket watches has still left some practical use as they are used extensively in trafficking of rail roading. Another variant of pocket watches is Hospital Pocket watch. An indigenous Indian manufacturer HMT has one in its portfolio by the name of "Nightangle watch" as well as a full fledged "Pocket watch".

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Kenneth Cole: From Shoes to Watches

Kenneth Cole Productions, Inc. was founded in 1983 by Kenneth Cole selling shoes out of the back of a truck trailer in front of Bryant
Park, U.S. As of now Kenneth Cole has diversified its portfolio into bags, sunglasses, belts, jewelry, ties, fragrances and most importantly things of our interest i.e. Watches.

That was a prologue. Honestly speaking I never heard of Kenneth Cole before. It was 2 days before 24th March when a special person brought a packet with her who eventually is also a MS’er. I opened the packet and even before opening I somehow has the hunch of this being very special. Every gift is special by the way. But still...

What I saw was so beautiful that I couldn’t lift my gaze of it. A moment before I was angry with her as she also bought a Waterman Charleston fountain pen and a Vintage Sunglass collection piece. I was busy giving lectures to her about her being extravagant whilst opening the box of Kenneth Cole. All that was gone for a moment; it was the moment in which I saw my watch.

Coming to the watch itself, it is a black croc leather strapped & rectangularly encased timepiece. The beauty of the watch is in its partially exposed movements. One can clearly see the gears and springs working and providing the necessary mechanical energy to the hands of the watch. The gears and springs looks so delicate that you don’t want to jerk your hands to avoid damage to the watch. Though the watch doesn’t disappoint in this manner too as it has the capacity to withheld shocks. It is only in one’s mind because he gotta see what he gotta shouldn’t. As it is like seeing an open heart beating inside a man’s body. The back side of the watch also is exposed. The jewels or rubies can be seen and in fact the derrière of the watch is more attractive than the frontal side. It is a pity that it can’t be a mode of show off unlike J.Lo.

Technically it is a simple analogue 3 hand movement watch. It is a mechanical automatic watch and not a quartz one. So one has to take care of this baby. Mechanical watches need servicing at regular intervals which is generally 3-4 years. As most of the watches manufactured now are water resistant this one too is. Though can’t comment upto what level. Must be 30 atm at least.

Overall in less than a weeks time I am addicted to this. One of the reasons may be and should be is that it is a gifted one and the person saved money from her salary for past 6 months. The other impartial reason is it is really very good watch.

Swapnsand, If you are reading this Thank you very much for this gift.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

My Wrist Gears

Kenneth Cole Reaction

Time Sensitive (It was indeed a Sensitive Gift from Mottoo)

Casio Edifice
EFA-123D-1AVDF (Bought because of beautiful analog digital combo plus some one said it look good on my hand)

Timex Expedition
Rugged Field (It was this watch which lured me to embark in the world of watches)
From the mountains to the sea, Timex Expedition has no boundaries. Worn by extreme outdoor adventurists like Conrad Anker, Timex Expedition belongs to the great outdoors.

HMT Freedom (Mera Bharat Mahaan)
On the 50th year of independence, HMT unveils the Freedom Commemorative Watch. One that best symbolizes those momentous years. This truly spectacular watch comes in both gents and ladies models. Though please note, only limited editions are available.

HMT Sweekar
(Needed a Mechanical Automatic; who makes them in India only HMT so.)
This is a mechanical automatic watch from HMT. It has the most contemporary looks among all the similar collection of HMT..

Strange enough HMT has not listed this model on their website. So this is the only exclusive picture available on net because it has been taken by my cam phone

Maxima Scuba (Bought it because of chronograph at a lower price)

Scuba Collection: We offer the Scuba aimed at the sporty trends amongst the youth. These watches are not only of international style and quality but they are priced keeping in mind the Indian youth’s pocket money. Scuba today has over 50 models to offer. We have also introduced our first chronograph.

Citizen Quartz (Needed a formal watch; kind of liked it so added to my collection)

Citizen is the world’s largest watch company. More people depend on a watch made by Citizen than other timepiece. Citizen produced 292 million timepieces in 1999, about 24% of the world total.

Pascal (An unknown Chinese one; my cousin gifted that to me. He bought it from Burma)

My First Watch (1999-2008)
It was Titan Sonata which I bought in the year 1999 cost me Rs 550. For 9 years that watch never gave up. And I used it exhaustively. Finally I sold that watch. So that was the end of Sonata for me. But I hope it lives on.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Jodha Akbar:- Excellent movie though short of Classic

Jodha Akbar starts with historical narration from Amitabh Bachchan..Then comes controversial Hemu Bairam Khan fight..It seems that Ashutosh had made up his mind showing Hemu as a barbarian and Mughals
as benevolent..The person who played the character of Hemu looked like just out of jungle..Still O.K Sequence..Then came the real beauty of characters...Akbar played by Hrithik looked like Akbar and has the authority of a king..How young Akbar managed to mark his presence as a ruler and not a puppet in hands of Bairam Khan is commendable...The scene where Hrithik asks Bairam Khan to go to Mecca brings a sense of euphoria in the cinema hall public...Smiles everywhere...The fear inspired by the eyes of Akbar looks real in many situations...But still the first half because of its length bores you at some points...It is not that scenes are not good it is just you just wanna need a break...

Jodha Akbar romance is some what OK but not great..The alliance between Jodha and Akbar was a contract not romance...And it is highly unlikely that in real life Akbar Jodha did had a romantic relationship..Consider it as a work of fiction then it is ok..Aishwariya portrayed Jodha well with all the grace of a Rajput princess...Kulbushan Kharbanda looked rustic as Jodha’s father...And either the role was not well written or he didn’t justified it is not clear...He was so confused...The elephant fight scene of Hrithik was like adding unwanted masala and didn’t gel with the story...Why the hell would a king fight with an elephant and that too bare handed...It was customary to go on shikaar and that too with full forces and protection..Not digested..

Maha Manga and Jodha part was typical of Saas Bahu and I remember Kahaani Ghar Ghar ki sort of feeling..Totally unnecessary..Though mind you Maha manga part was brilliantly portrayed by Ila Arun..It was her performance that theses scenes can be tolerated

The songs were good especially Khwaja mere khwaja...Dance was a bit unusual though....Hrithik joining Sufi dancers and maniacal dancing looks unreal..But then again there are historical facts to support the fact that Akbar was inclined towards Sufism and its spiritural powers...Another good song was Ajeemoshan Shahanshah...This song made up the mood craeting a bigger than life image of Akbar...There is a scene in between this song where some ordinary junta people recognized that Hrithik met them in an ordinary citizen’s disguise..The nod of Hrithik too recognizing them is brilliant depiction..

Lastly the fight scene between Akbar and Sharif uddin was brilliant....This film is made by keeping Mughalian side in view and praising their works...But only the good side is shown while the bad part remains hidden..Good movie still..Can be a bit impartial though...

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Go for Shine now...Nah!!

Honda Shine

For me purchase of Honda Shine was a good buy at that time (20 months ago)...As I don’t
like the looks of Discover and Glamor was no option because of its
pathetic 9 bhp power output...Yamaha Gladiator too was an option
then but it was not that luring too...Zeus was then and even now a
piece of crap...Scene is much changed now...Discover 135 is a hell of a
bike....At 13.1 bhp it nearly matches the performance of older
generation Pulsar 150...Gladiator too is in all black paint scheme and
alloy wheels now...So if I have to choose a bike now I’ll NOT go for
Shine...But at that point of time it was a good buy...Choice was
between alloy wheels of Discover and Disc brakes of Shine...And I
preferred the later...Put in your views on this..As far as my satisfaction is considered....Well I like the pickup of this bike which is great even better than Pulsar 150 but only uptil 60 kmph....After that the engine is plain irking...Didn’t expected that from Honda....If you shamelessly go above 60 kmph the fellow roadsters will give you a look that you are drunk and on a killing spree...It gives an impression to the person you just overtook at speed above 60 that you are a reckless driver even though you may be driving a hell lot better than him....If you can overlook this...Go on... On all other aspects this bike is either average or above average...One more thing this is not as fuel effiecient as it claim to be...So if you are buying bcoz it is fuel efficient...Don’t be fooled...There are better alternatives