WatchTime India recently held its first event in Kochi with Kerala’s watch collecting group TimeGrapher, and the conversations I had and the stories I heard that afternoon are still making me smile. Like the one about how founder Sohan Balachandran has watches that have been given to him by Mr C Raja Raja Varma of the Travancore Royal Family, watches that were specially made for the family by independent Swiss watchmaker Zeno Watch Basel. Or how Rittu C Joseph, a group member rode down from Chennai on his heavy-duty Triumph Rocket 3 to attend the event. Then there is the one about Raghu Krishnan and Amar Hassan, incredibly generous group members, who are known to regularly help fellow members hunt down watches they are desperately seeking; for getting specific references that are not available in India back from the UAE where they are based; and even financing watches for fellow enthusiasts.
The camaraderie within the group that afternoon was palpable—here was a set of people who had come together over a shared love for watches but formed deeper connections. And the afternoon ended with an exciting announcement—the launch of TimeGrapher’s Bangalore chapter, given the growing number of members from the city.
Delhi and Mumbai are default hubs when one thinks of watch markets in the country but the growing noise from other cities can no longer be denied, and get-togethers such as these only prove how enthusiastic watch collectors across India are. Watch retailer Zimson spoke to us about the collector community in Coimbatore, and the more I meet watch brands, the more I see how much they are looking to penetrate smaller cities, and the different ways they want to achieve it. You get a sense of this renewed approach to Indian customers in the story ‘Walk the Talk’, where we explore how the watch buying experience in the country is getting an uplift with the opening of new boutiques.
Fresh perspective—this is what our first issue of 2024 is about. A new way to look at things. In ‘The Descendants’, we speak to Danièla Dufour, Benjamin Arabov, and Audrey Raffy, about how, as the next generation, they are leading their brands into the future. In a similar vein, we interviewed Simon Messner, son of legendary Swiss alpinist and explorer Reinhold Messner. The father and son duo are currently associated with Montblanc, who developed its 0 Oxygen line of watches inspired by Reinhold’s ascent to Mount Everest without supplemental oxygen in 1978. We spoke to Simon on the eve of his participation in the Antarctic Ice Marathon, where he wore the Montblanc 1858 Geosphere 0 Oxygen South Pole Exploration Limited Edition on his wrist, about what it means to follow the same path as his father’s and the relevance of the timepiece on his wrist. Read what he had to say in ‘Into the Wild’.
Anyone who is considered successful today, and the watch world today is no different, is so because they chose to see a different perspective, a new way of doing things. One such person is Kari Voutilainen, watchmaker extraordinaire, whose handcrafting techniques and artisanship have a legion of followers—the current wait-list for a Kari Voutilainen watch is seven years. We spoke to the master watchmaker about what inspires his work, and where he is set to go in 2024, in ‘Master of All’. Similarly, we explore the work of Gilbert Albert, casemaker, who in the 1950s and 60s, literally broke the mould to create unusually shaped watches, which are today a collector’s dream (‘The Asymmetrical World of Gilbert Albert’).
Much in the same way, on the cover we have Bovet 1822’s The Virtuoso XI, the first fully skeletonised watch from the brand. Each surface of this timepiece is hand-decorated and finished, the skeletonised movement included, which is a feat in itself. A result, no doubt, of what can be achieved when you open up to new ideas. Happy New Year!