Hindustan Machine Tools (HMT) was India’s official state-owned watchmaker, a relic of the country’s socialist past, and it specialized in watches – like the modded strongly military-esque example here – for all occasions, from Diwali to passage onwards to a son. HMT once commanded over 90% of India’s wristwatch market, but when it shuttered its doors in 2016 few were left surprised.
Founded in the 1950s as a manufacturer of heavy machinery, before adding watches and tractor designs from what was then Czechoslovakia, HMT was shuttered by the Indian government in 2016, after hemorrhaging cash since the early 21st century and surviving on government bailouts. A familiar culprit was responsible, in part, for HMT’s demise – battery-powered quartz movements that made watches much cheaper and more reliable than HMT’s mechanical offerings.
Per the Wall Street Journal, “Like the Ambassador car, an HMT watch is a product from the past whose continued existence in India is as delightful as it is baffling. In 1961, the company built a factory to produce mechanical movements using technology from Japan’s Citizen Watch Co. The movement—the guts of the watch—has remained frozen in time ever since.”
The two most popular models are the company’s original designs: the Pilot and the Janata. The round face and slim case are classic pieces seen in the catalogues of every major watch manufacturer in the world. The Pilot is a timeless aviator watch, with a high-contrast black face and phosphorescent paint on the arms. It was originally sold only to the military, but the company began selling the Pilot to the public sometime in the 1970s.
This HMT comes with two nylon NATO straps, a springbar tool, and a Pelican travel case.
Modded HMT Military Mechanical Watch
DIAL: Detailed modded black HMT-signed dial, which features large Arabic numerals lumed to glow in the dark – a great touch that really makes this dive watch stand out from many of the same era, and gives it a strong military feel akin to the acclaimed Hamilton military-issue mechanical MIL-W-46374 watches or Seiko’s MACV-SOG issued watches. The quite excellent lume helps in this comparison!
CASE: Stainless-steel case measures 38mm (36mm w/o crown) x 44mm; case is in excellent condition overall.
CRYSTAL: Dome acrylic crystal, no scratches or blemishes.
BAND: This HMT comes with two nylon NATO straps, both with stainless-steel hardware.
MOVEMENT: Citizen-inspired 17-jewel HMT manual wind mechanical movement.