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Wednesday, March 20, 2013

finely crafted Century 'Balaji' watch - 333 limited edition

Thirumala Thirupathi, the name itself is divine. Thiruvengadam, the abode of Lord Balaji would ever remain as the ‘Thilakam’ the shining glory of the whole Earth. 

From the morning, our life is so dependent on watching time ~ seeing time in watches ! I had written the following lines in an earlier post : Certainly nothing to do with its utility value.  At best a collector’s item, the real worth of this can never be reckoned. It only appears to be a Foreign Company’s novel way of exploiting the religious sentiment of Lord Balaji and making money.  The following post is another one……

Those days when I went to school, wearing a watch was a prestige ! – not many could afford watches; HMT [Hindustan Machine Tools] priced their watches in the range of Rs.350/- + and when my grandfather awarded me one after getting good marks in SSLC Exam, it was heaven ~ those days, Rs.300/- + easily was more than a month’s salary for most…… life has changed a long way.. now you have costly wrist watches, brands that are status symbols ~ at the same time, you have duplicate ones at throw away prices, which also work fine and well serve the intended purpose of showing the time.

Read about a limited edition watch ~ only ‘333 pieces’ of opulent wrist watches rolled out in Feb 2013  by Rodeo Drive & Century touted as World's First Single Sapphire Lord Venkateswara Edition Wristwatch ~ they are not simple time showers but fanciful watches studded with precious gems, rubies, emeralds and diamonds.  Century is the Swiss luxury watchmaker known for exquisite and expansive timepieces and Rodeo drive is a marketing company in India. Century Time Gems Ltd was founded  in 1966 by Hans-Ulrich Klingenberg, the first day upon the abolition of the "Statut horloger", which had prohibited the entry of newcomers into the watch industry for almost 40 years. The promoters boast of timeless looks, the collectible edition reflects luxury and perfection with Lord Venkateswara engraved by hand in gold and studded with magnificent rubies and emeralds on a white dial. It has the Lord Venkateswara carved out in enamel, while the hour-markers are set with diamonds.

The MD of Rodeo Drive was quoted as stating that global Indians would love this limited edition as they are known for their refined taste, sophisticated style and their ardent devotion for Lord Balaji. The impressively created lugs, case back and the crown of the wristwatch are finely handcrafted in 18 ct. red gold, with an image of the Vimanam engraved in gold in the rear. The Swiss self-winding movement is COSC chronometer certified (Contrôle Officiel Suisse des Chronomètres, the Official Swiss Chronometer Testing Institute, the institute responsible for certifying the accuracy and precision of wristwatches in Switzerland) guarantees great precision and reliability.

Among the other traits, the  42 mm case of this watch made in sapphire is scratch-resistant and water resistant material till a depth of 100 meters. The 12 shimmering facets are cut and polished entirely by hand. Mounted on a choice of alligator leather strap with folding buckle in 18 ct. red gold, or an 18 ct. red gold bracelet, each watch is individually numbered in a limited series of 333, to turn it as an exceptional collector's item.

~ ~ and they further claim that every piece of the limited edition Lord Venkateswara watch sold globally will contribute a certain percentage of the sale proceeds to Balaji Institute of Surgery, Research and Rehabilitation for the Disabled (BIRRD), Asia's largest charitable orthopedic hospital in Tirupati run by Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams (TTD).

It could be a watch with great looks, wearing it could be a status symbol, global Indians might like it…… but it is clearly another marketing ploy to sell more, earn more rather than any cause, certainly nothing religious to be associated with Lord Balaji.  It is selling Lord’s name and trying to earn a fortune in doing so.  The back of the watch will have the imprint of the dome of the sanctum sanctorum and Rodeo Drive has got the official blessings for the project from  Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanam (TTD).

Before it even sees the print the news is that there have been 27 bookings for the limited addition watch so far- all from India. The watch costs approx Rs.27 lakhs and one has to wait  4 months after placing the order. 

Not everyone is impressed though  ~ reportedly, Vishwa Hindu Parishad activists held protests at the formal launch of the watch in Hyderabad on February 21, insisting the wristwatch with the Lord's image should not be marketed in this fashion.  The launch has irked some politicians too. "It is regrettable that the Lord has been made an object of commercial transactions," rues B. Gopalakrishna Reddy, Telugu Desam Party MLA from Kalahasti, the constituency at the Tirumala foothills. Rodeo however claims that they are ardent devotees of Balaji and it has been our desire to come out with a very special watch. 

Way back in 10th Sept. 2011, I had posted this when a limited edition pen was launched… my views have not changed since………. Read the earlier post : Encashing Lord Balaji sentiment – limited edition Pen launched !! Balaji Pen

More than a decade ago, I went for darshan of ‘Makara Nedunkuzhai Kathar’ at Then Thiruperai, one of the Nava Thirupathi sthalams… the famous 2 wheeler manufacturer of Tamilnadu was there submitting one of their newly made vehicles to the Lord in reverence – they had the practice of donating their most important numbered productions to the temples…… that was devotion ~ this smacks of marketing..

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
20th Mar 2013  

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