THERE is a fresh lease of life for the nation's time keeper. Following media reports that the government may delay the shutting down of HMT Watches, and the Centre may provide another life line for HMT, shares of the nation's watchmaker soared up 20 percent on October 27
Media reports say, after the government announced closure of the...sick PSU, demand for HMT watches has shot up sharply in various parts of the country.
In fact watches made by the iconic brand were sold two to three times the original prices.
After reports that HMT Watches was winding up, there has been a heavy demand for timepieces made by HMT, the nation's first watch maker.
The revival of demand has prompted the government to rethink about its decision to close the loss-making public sector company.
Reports say the government is in favour of keeping one of the plants operational so that people can continue to buy watches, at least for old time's sake.
The government's plan is to let the "new HMT Watches" focus on selling some of its popular brands such as Sona, a gold-plated dress watch, Pilot, a wind-up model and Janata, the first model named by former Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru.
The heavy industries ministry will soon take a formal call on proposal to the cabinet for shutting down six ailing state-run firms, including HMT Watches.
The Tumkur, Karnataka unit, with staff strength of around 60, is expected to survive while the other factories will be shut down despite several "requests" from politicians to keep the plants running and "save some jobs".
Pilot — one of the most sought-after mechanical watches from the HMT stable — that cost Rs 1,200 apiece only a month ago, now comes at Rs 2,400.
The Tumkur unit may be taken away from HMT Watches and transferred to another HMT group company, which will focus on heavy engineering work.
For decades, HMT was synonymous with watches, passed down from one generation to another, gifted by parents to their siblings on special ocasions.
HMT was launched way back in 1961 in collaboration with Japan's Citizen Watch Co as part of the government's efforts to build a modern India and undoubtedly the brand was called "Timekeepers to the Nation".
Though in subsequent years, HMT's brand was expanded, it failed to keep pace with the changing times following the entry of other private and more importantly global watch makers into the market.
By 2012-13, HMT's losses mounted to Rs 242 crore against a meagre revenues of Rs 11 crore.
A revival package for the ailing PSU was floated in 1999 which however failed to mend matters and the previous UPA government referred the company to the Board for Reconstruction of Public Sector Enterprises (BRPSE), which recommended revival.
Half of HMT’s workforce is in Ranibag, while the rest is in Tumkur, Bangalore and other sales offices.