Nirupesh Joshi and Mercy Amalraj were high-flying technology consultants, earning handsomely, with successful stints in Boston, Seoul and Hong Kong until 2018. One fine day the couple gave it all up, got into entrepreneurship in an entirely alien area: the world of mechanical watches the couple had all along been fascinated by.They landed in Bengaluru, the ground-zero of wrist watches and startups.
“A watch carries memories through generations. It is a symbol of sentiment,” says Joshi, sitting in their office in South Bengaluru, amid an array of elegantly displayed luxury watches.
With no tinge of regret of digressing from a fancy career, the couple who set up the Bangalore Watch Company (BWC) with their savings of several years, says their five-year labour of love is bearing fruits.
The couple, who assemble and market luxury automatic watches of the eponymous brand, now plan to move a step ahead and open experience centres in Delhi, Mumbai and Bengaluru by the end of next year. Their watches are currently available only through the company website.
“We are currently assembling between 1200-1500 watches a year, all with a Swiss-movement,” Joshi says, adding the business has turned profitable. “So far, we have used our own money. As we expand, we may tap outside capital.” The company, the co-founder says, is in talks with some family offices who can stay invested for a longer term.
“The thought of producing an Indian-origin watch brand occurred to us after we heard the announcement that the HMT would stop production of watches. We chose to name it after Bangalore as it is associated with two well-known watch brands, HMT and Titan.”
The BWC currently designs its watches around the themes of cricket, space and aviation, and hopes to add more themes in the days to come. “Story-telling is key to luxury watch making,” the co-founder says, explaining that a watch is no longer an object just to look for time. “Watch making is no different from jewellery workmanship.”
The co-founders say their watches are priced between Rs 85,000 and Rs 2 lakh with two-thirds of them sold in India. The rest, they say, are picked by mostly Indians living overseas and those with nostalgic memories. “We serve customers that are looking for unique stories, collectable gifts, and high-quality Indian origin products across categories. We operate in the exclusive and limited editions model.”
But what gave them the confidence to delve into the crowded space of luxury watches? Joshi says the size of the wristwatch market in India was about Rs 13,000 crore, last year, and is growing at around 10% year-on-year. The segment BWC operates would be about Rs 5950 crore in two years, Joshi adds.