MACH in India: Watch firm pays wristy tribute to MiG-21

flying statement

Twenty-one wristwatches with fighter plane-inspired dials made of a decommissioned MiG-21 jet’s skin. This is a Bengaluru-based startup’s tribute to the Indian Air Force (IAF)’s first supersonic jet. In the news for all the wrong reasons, the MiG-21’s ‘good time’ seems to have finally arrived. 

Inspired by IAF, the Bangalore Watch Company (BWC) announced the launch of its MACH 1 Collection on Tuesday. “A few hundred pieces will be available in this collection in four models. But only 21 pieces under MACH 1X will have dials made of MiG-21 skin,” BWC co-founder Nirupesh Joshi told DH

The company sourced the aircraft skin from the IAF through a third-party. “The skin was recovered, and the sheet validated as that of MiG-21 Type 77 by a nationally accredited lab. Once the chemical composition was analysed, we fabricated the dials that are only 0.4mm thick,” explained Joshi. 

MiG-21 FL Type 77 (Codenamed Fishbed by NATO) was produced by the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) under licence from the Soviet Union. The fighter jet was inducted into IAF in the early 1960s. The aircraft played a critical role during the 1971 Bangladesh Liberation War. 

In recent years, frequent crashes during training sorties earned the jet the tag ‘Flying Coffins.’ But at its peak, the aircraft had donned its ‘spot interceptor’ role with finesse, providing strong air-superiority umbrellas. 

The MiG-21’s proven prowess of the past was high on the BWC mind as it made the aircraft choice for the special edition watch. 

“We wanted to pay tribute to the IAF with an aviation-style watch collection. HAL is headquartered in Bengaluru, the city has played a critical role in the history of the Air Force and we wanted to bring stories from the city and India through our watches,” said BWC co-founder Mercy Amalraj. 

Besides the 21 special edition watches, the entire MACH 1 Series has fighter-plane cockpit inspired dials. A deep laser etched MiG design motif on the case back is another striking feature. Designed and assembled in Bengaluru, the series has components imported from watch-makers in Switzerland, Hong Kong and Japan. 

Founded in 2018, BWC was the Joshi-Amalraj duo’s platform to produce world-class watches that tell stories from India. The company has priced the MACH 1 collection between Rs 48,000 and Rs. 53,000. The MACH 1X special-edition pieces would be much pricier. The pre-ordered watches are to be shipped starting November 2019. 

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