By now it is no surprise watchmaking companies and -projects can be found in every far corner of the world. For us, this is perhaps the most exciting thing to see as the growing interest in watches shows new initiatives with fresh, exciting inspiration. Not necessarily locked down in tradition, brands are seeking out their own path with often unique and different watches as a result. One such brand is Bangalore Watch Company, headed by Nirupesh Joshi and his wife Mercy Amalraj. Today, early in the new year, we talk with Nirupesh about the recent challenges and future plans for Bangalore Watch Company.
Robin, MONOCHROME Watches – Since our last interview, about a year and a half ago, a lot has happened regarding Bangalore Watch Company. Can you get us up to speed?
Nirupesh, Bangalore Watch Company – Well personally, it is fair to say that we’re all living in very dynamic circumstances right now. In India, what appeared a month ago as light at the end of the tunnel, has now turned into what could possibly be a third-wave in India due to the Omicron variant. We’re focused on our team’s health and safety while making sure our customers’ needs are not compromised.
A lot has happened since we spoke last time. In 2021, we launched line extensions of our Cover Drive cricket inspired collection, followed by our latest Apogee, inspired by the Indian space program. We’ve added more people to the team and have started working on a new facility in Bangalore that can house the entire team together. All in all, 2021 was a big year for us! Things have been really great, and we’re expecting an even better 2022!
Bangalore Watch Company was founded in 2018 and now spans multiple collections. How do you look back at the entire experience so far?
Personally, I think that every new business owner walks around with a fractured ego. There is a roller coaster of emotions every single day. One day you’re filled with self-doubt wondering what you got yourselves into, while other days you’re feeling extremely proud of what you’ve been able to do. Our experience has been no different. However, seeing where the brand is now with multiple collections and what appears to be a well-rounded catalogue gives us a lot of joy and pride. Like many independent brand owners in the recent past, we too do not come from the watch industry. So being an outsider has its own challenge, but we see it as an advantage as well. We are able to -possibly- bring new ideas and new ways of thinking to the business and how watches from India have always been seen. All in all, if I were to do it all over again, I wouldn’t change a thing!
Going over the past 12 months or so, and the ongoing pandemic. What have been the biggest challenges for you as a company?
The pandemic is an irony for watch businesses. On the one hand, very undesirable things are happening to people’s lives and on the other hand, online watch businesses like ours (and luxury overall) are thriving. I see two challenges though: First, we have not been able to bring people together – be it our customers, or our teams. Second, our supply chains have been unpredictable so product availability – especially for the ones most requested by our customers – are a challenge.
If you look at your clientele, what changes do you see there since the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic? Has it caused a shift in your markets, for instance, has it helped you in any way, shape or form?
From the beginning, we have been laser-focused on who our customers are. We have a good understanding of where they are, what they buy, how much they spend on lifestyle products et cetera. About 70% of our customers are based in India, and there is a marked change in the behaviour. Since the pandemic has restricted International vacations and social gatherings, people are generally left with more disposable income and are looking for new ways to spend it. So instead of spending a few thousand dollars on a holiday in Bali, they buy themselves a nice watch or a few!
You focus strongly on Indian heritage and culture, with collections dedicated to the world of Cricket (the Cover Drive) or the Indian Air Force (the Mach 1). Do you see that resonating with other markets as well?
Great question! I would like to point out that we are not an Indian ‘heritage’ brand. We are rather a part of a counter-culture that is developing. Our theory is that the grammar of Indian design expressed through watches is severely outdated. It is influenced by the colonial past of India, and it is plain boring. Make no mistake, there is still an audience for it, but our theory is that there is more to designs inspired by India than just Indian gods, oriental motifs, and Devanagari script. Our designs are based on our modern, 21st-century view of India. We are seeing enthusiasm around this concept from around the world. 30% of our owners are from all around the world, and we only see that number steadily growing as more people learn about us, which is really exciting.
You’ve recently launched a new collection amidst the pandemic, the Apogee. How has that been doing for you so far?
The Apogee collection is inspired by the Indian space program. It is a futuristic sports watch – with a Unibody Ti2 case and a unique micro-bead-blasted finishing. There is a lot of interest in the Apogee, we’re almost sold out of our first production batch, and we’re expecting a lot of excitement around the Apogee going into 2022!
Can we expect further developments along the same line as the Apogee or the Cover Drive in the near future?
Our first brand promise is that every watch collection will have a backstory inspired by India. We have at least 1 new collection planned for 2022 with an exciting backstory. There are more plans for 2023. As a new brand though, it is challenging to continuously create new watches every year. At this point, we’ve identified the categories and would like to take our existing themes to more people around the world.
Looking at the more distant future for Bangalore Watch Company, what lies ahead? Any exciting news you might be able to share with us at this point in time?
2022 is going to be a slow year in terms of product launches, although new watches are in development. We’re looking at one new watch launching in the second half of the year. Our new integrated Studio in Bangalore will house our watch workshop and our teams all under one roof and we’re really excited to get that off the ground mid-year.
For more information, please visit BangaloreWatchCo.in