HMT Watches Limited, the most admired watch company in India, was incorporated in 1962.
HMT is the abbreviation of Hindustan Machine Tools, a Public Sector Company founded by Indian Government in 1953 in Bangalore (now known as Bengaluru) in the Karnataka state. It started as a machine tools manufacturing company, and subsequently established several subsidiaries across the country for manufacturing Clocks & Wristwatches, Tractors, Die Casting, Printing Machinery, Bearings, Stepper Motors, Ball Screws, Precision Machinery and CNC Systems.
HMT’s Head Quarters is located at Bellary Road in Bangalore. It is the first company to start watch manufacturing in India. In 1962, as part of its diversification strategy, HMT ventured into watchmaking by setting up the HMT Watch Factory I at Jalahalli in Bangalore.
Then, the Government of India had collaborated with Japanese watchmaking company CITIZEN for providing technical assistance for manufacturing mechanical wristwatches in India. Initially HMT’s collection was consisted of hand-wound mechanical watches only. In 1972, the HMT Watch Factory II was established at Jalahalli to manufacture Automatic Day Date watches in technical collaboration with CITIZEN.
In the early years, HMT watches were provided with CITIZEN movements imported from Japan. Afterwards, HMT began manufacturing mechanical movements in-house, after obtaining necessary license and technology transfer from the Japanese company.
After expanding its production facilities inside their Jalahalli campus, the company also began producing small movement components like main-spring, hair-spring and shock-absorber. Soon, HMT became a full-fledged watch manufacture, producing 100% of movement components in-house.
In 1975, HMT Watch Factory III was established in Jammu & Kashmir. In 1978, HMT opened its Watch Factory IV at Tumkur in the Karnataka state. In 1980, HMT founded Horological Inspection Institute in Bangalore to undertake quality tests of its products.
In 1981, the company began manufacturing quartz analogue watches. In 1982, HMT Watch Factory V was established at Ranibagh near the famous Himalayan resort town Nainital. In the same year, they also set up a specialized Watch Case Division in Bengaluru.
In 1999, HMT Watches Limited (HMTWL), a fully owned subsidiary of HMT Limited was incorporated in Bengaluru to unite the manufacturing, quality testing and marketing of clocks, wristwatches and timing systems.
HMTWL had the following divisions:
- Watch Factory I & II: Based at Jalahalli, Bengaluru. Production of ladies’ mechanical hand-wound watches and automatic day-date watches.
- Watch Factory IV: Located at Devarayapatna in Tumkur district. Production of gents’ mechanical hand-wound watches and quartz analog watches for men and women.
- Watch Factory V, Ranibagh: Located in Nainital district of Uttarakhand state. Production of gent’s mechanical watches, and the Slim Series quartz watches.
- Watch Case Factory Bangalore: Production of shaped watch cases.
- Horological Inspection Institute Bangalore: Quality tests of the watches.
- Timing Systems Division: Based at Jalahalli in Bengaluru, this division produced floral clocks, tower clocks, timing display systems, population clocks, master-slave clocks etc.
- Marketing Division: Located at Bellary Road in Bengaluru, this department was responsible for marketing, sales and after-sales service of HMT watches.
On 4th September 2000, an independent subsidiary HMT Chinar Watches Limited (HMTCWL) was incorporated for managing the activities of the Assembly Unit at Jammu and the Watch Factory III at Srinagar. HMTCWL used to produce mechanical hand-wound watches for men.
HMT subsidiaries as on 01 Jan 2001:
- HMT Machine Tools Limited
- HMT Watches Limited
- HMT Chinar Watches Limited
- HMT Bearings Limited
- HMT International Limited
During its good times, HMT was the largest producer of wristwatches in India. However, gradually it lost the business due to stiff competition from home-grown brands like Titan, which efficiently responded to the huge demand of trendy quartz watches in the market. Due to continuous revenue losses, the Government of India ordered to shut down HMT watch factories in 2016.
As on date, only HMT Machine Tools Limited and HMT International Limited are the only two manufacturing subsidiaries of the iconic public sector company established in 1953.
All HMT watch factories established under HMT Watches Limited and HMT Chinar Watches Limited are under closure/liquidation. Along with these watch making subsidiaries, the company also terminated the manufacturing activities of HMT Bearings Limited and the Tractor Division.
Specialized in the manufacturing of precision machine tools and CNC systems, HMT Machine Tools Limited and its units in Bangalore, Hyderabad, Kalamassery (Kochi), Ajmer and Pinjore are still active in business.
After the closure of its manufacturing activities at watchmaking factories, HMT’s WMD (Watch Marketing Division) in Bengaluru began selling the left-over inventory. They also started assembling watches by utilizing the parts and components available with the company stock.
At present, HMT Limited (the holding company of HMT Watches) is operating a newly established Auxiliary Business Division (ABD)* at Jalahalli in Bengaluru with a Watch Assembly Line for making timepieces. This facility was earlier called as Common Services Division (CSD).
HMT Auxiliary Business Division has been maintaining an impressive inventory of watch components and movements accumulated from the stocks of all HMT factories. This reserve enables them to assemble new watches bearing HMT brand name. They are also utilizing third-party components and movements for manufacturing HMT branded watches. For example, some of their latest automatic watch models are equipped with Miyota self-winding movements.
Presently HMT watches can be purchased via the company’s official online store*. HMT’s current product range includes both mechanical and quartz timepieces. The retail price range is 10 to 200 US Dollars.
Official website: https://www.hmtwatches.in/
*Delivery only in India.