Watch repairers in dire straits?

Watch repairers in dire straits?

It seems that coastal city of Mangalore has a strong bond with watch repairers. Many watch repairing shops in the city, with a history of more than six decades prove the point.

A partial view of Bharath Watch Works in Hampankatta

Even in the present ‘use and throw’ era, these shops are facing the heat of change and struggling for survival.

70-year-old Ashok Achar, who works in Bharath Watch works, founded by Late Lokayya Gatti Kapikad at Hampanakatta is not ready to agree that watch repair is a loss making business.

“We are not facing any drought of customers. Spare parts are available in Bombay, Calcutta and also in some local shops. There is no question of returning a timepiece with a negative nod,” he asserts.

“We still repair some old model of clocks and watches like Jungans, Chaming (Germany), Seikosha (Japan), Ansonia (USA), Moneth (Germany), Smith Hannifield (England), Wehrle (Germany) and Westand pocket watch,” Ashok says and agrees that time has changed and golden days of the profession would never return. 

Liberty Watch Works is another older watch repair shop in the city with 60 years of history. Mohan who works in the shop says that it is true that we don’t get older model clocks these days. “Most of the people use quarts watches, but we too adjust to the changes.”

Prabhakar Naik, the proprietor of Nagappa Naik and Sons, another old shop in the city says: “We started this business nearly 60 years ago in the city. Then all was well but now we get fewer customers. It is difficult to depend on this and there is no way but have to look for some additional business,” he said glancing at the CDs and cassettes kept for sale in his shop.

Master speaks…

Damodhar Karkera, arguably the most experienced person in the business, with 65 years of experience knows the ups and downs of the industry in this region. “I was attracted towards watch repairing profession during my school days. I joined Canara watches in 1945 and we were 25 members then,” Karkera goes down memory lane.

“In 1949, I left the shop and joined Liberty Watch Works in Hampanakatta where I worked for another 15 years. I got the tips of sales and service and later joined National Watch House. Then I was considered as very skilled worker and got the increment of Rs 2,” he pauses with a smile.

Karkera, now in his 80s has closed his Regal Watch Services two years ago. “Watch repairing was a respectable profession earlier and I trained many, but now it is different game altogether. About 90 per cent of people use quarts watch.

On the other hand, labour problem is also there. It is tough to live in this profession. Now I just help watch repairers and provide spare parts to them,” he concludes.

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