Bidding adieu: HMT shuts down its last manufacturing unit
HMT Watches Ltd. announced the shutdown of its manufacturing unit at Tumakuru. The last of 120 employees of Hindustan Machine Tools (HMT) in Tumakuru, were handed their relieving letters ironically on the May Day (day honouring workers)as the PSU shut down operations. The Tumakuru unit had manufactured HMT trademarks like the Lalit, Elegance, Sona, and Dipti series of watches.
The HMT Watches unit was set up in 1961 in Bengaluru, as a PSU in collaboration with M/s Citizen Watch Co., Japan. HMT soon started getting referred as "the timekeeper of the nation". Its first batch of watches was released by PM Jawaharlal Nehru. HMT set up 2 more manufacturing facilities to produce watch components at Tumkur and Ranibagh in 1978 and 1985.
The brand once boasted of over 100 million satisfied customers- the HMT watches had "many 'firsts' in its kitty such as India's first Automatic Day-Date watch, first Quartz watch , first Braille watch, first Analogue-Digital watch."
The primary reason behind HMT's downfall lay in the fact that the demand for the watches was far greater than the company's technology for the supply. The void it left was occupied by the entrance of Allwyn watches and Titan (Tata's partnership with TIDCO of Tamil Nadu). While the HMT had been the timekeepers to the nation, Titan became "the wrist stylists".
In August 2014, HMT Watches began its online sales in August 2014 in an effort to navigate through rough seas but the camapign, 'Keep time with HMT - The timekeepers to the nation', didn't work, forcing HMT to stop production.
The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) gave a nod for the closure of HMT watches by approving a voluntary retirement scheme (VRS) for its workers. The VRS will be given at 2007 pay scales for workers of HMT Watches Ltd, HMT Chinar Watches Ltd. and HMT Bearings Ltd. As per government policy, the company's movable and immovable assets will be dissolved too.
In 2015, the Ranibag (Uttarakhand) unit of HMT Watches was allowed to open briefly to finish an unfinished order of 5,500 watches received from its Bengaluru office.
The Tumakuru unit employed almost 326 employees, was the only factory which was operative of the 4 units of HMT. From 1978 to 2013-14, the once flourishing Tumakuru unit manufactured 3.95 crore watches, worth Rs.1,353 crores. With an initial capacity to produce more than 20,000 watches per month, it was down to producing 3,000 to 4,000 watches and was only taking institutional orders now.