Way back in 2013, I reported that Prateek Shujanya had commissioned a new model from the Indian watchmaker HMT that would be unlike anything else in their line. At 40mm, it would be considerably larger than any previous HMT hand wound and would have a unique dial designed by the Watchuseek Affordable Watch Forum (F71). It was greeted with great enthusiasm with forum members dubbing the new watch "Badass Unicorn" and setting to work on the dial design. A lot has changed since then, but the project is finally coming to fruition.
Perhaps the most significant development was the Indian government's move to close the ailing, state-owned HMT. The wind down is still underway, but it is reported that mechanical watch production has ceased. This could well have spelled the death of this project, but Prateek was able to secure a supply of HMT caliber 0231 hand wound movements, and has farmed out other production and assembly work to former HMT employees, keeping the project alive, albeit at a higher cost. The watch was originally intended to sell for $80 will now sell for $143. This is not the bargain that once was, but still quite reasonable.
On a happier note, after much deliberation the design is finally set. The case will be an upsized version of that used on the HMT Pilot and Janata, constructed of polished stainless steel with drilled lugs, a domed acrylic crystal, and a mineral display case back. The dial features polished markers and hands. It became apparent early on that the watch should be immediately identifiable as Indian, so the numerals and name are printed in Devanagari script. Buyers may choose brown, green, or blue sunray dials.
The watch also has a real name: Airavata. There is no Hindi word for unicorn, nor any equivalent mythical beast so the watch was instead named after the battle elephant of the god Indra. It is a fitting name and one that carries even more significance as it is no longer an HMT product and will not have the HMT logo anywhere on the dial, although it will still be stamped on the movement. Many buyers were looking forward to owning the last new HMT model, but it is equally exciting to own the very first Indian micro brand.
Only 250 units will be made, but some orders remain. Contact Prateek by private message on Watchuseek for more information. http://forums.watchuseek.com/member.php?u=175261
Photo courtesy of Prateek Shujanya