Story of A Watch…

Story of a Watch..
My watch is a HMT Sona,1971..I will appreciate if you can give me its worth after reading this Blog..Thank You!
A watch cannot be a piece of adornment for many and for me it has been a symbolic description of everlasting memories.My watch has been seeing its ups and downs both in my personal life and in its own physical endurance.After all a HMT Sona watch,introduced in the early 70s with mechanical keying has predicably oscilated between slowing down in times of pain and beating faster in times of ecstacy.

I didnot care to switch over to the more costlier varieties of Diamond studded Breitling($65000)

Diamond studded $ 65000Breitling!

Diamond studded $ 65000Brei



or a gold plated Rolex ($52500)to advertised models of Breguet or Cartier($55000) par excellence…..not that I could not afford one of them at any point of time of my life,but I valued and continue to value the particular story of my wonderful watch I wear,the HMT Sona of January 1970!

The purpose of a watch ,according to my simple mind is to depict the Time and needs to be perfect when it does.Over a period of Time,watches from Swiss to Japan have revealed more than mere Time,in terms of advertising young models in order to attract everyone’s attention.But my HMT Sona was not among those greatly advertised ones but this model was indeed from a different pedigree !

Atleast that was what my most admired man on earth,my teacher,guru,guide and philosopher,my late father ,Mr.M.Rajah Iyer,thought in the 70s.He surprised me on a fine morning when I was sipping my morning coffee in a Bachelor’s apartment in Madurai,with a close look at the Time on the wall clock ,which gave atleast another 90 minutes to hurry up to my office!He was nearly 100 kms away from my place, normally,a poor Headmaster in a High School.There was no need for him to surprise me at that hour all the way.He made me happy when he did ,in his usual smiling face,melodious voice& asked from behind:”Ennnaa..”(how are You?)
I was taken aback to see my dad at that Time and was so happy and thrilled and offered him a coffee too.He said “NO thanks.”
Then he gave me this wonderful Watch”HMT SONA”embedded in GOld….”
and wished me”Happy Birth Day to you”(14thJan1971)
“Oh Appa.Thank you.Indeed thank you for this nice Gift.Thanks for remembering my Birth Day……Did You come all the way from Ramnad just for this”
“I had Legislative work and I came and stayed here Yesterday and wanted to surprise you on your BIrth Day!”
“Thats so sweet of you appa.”
“You know it cost me 25% of my Salary!”
“Thanks a lot Appa.”Tears rolled down my eyes as Rs 105 for a watch for a man nearing 56 was a lot of money.It also meant he was getting only rs 420 as his last salary as a Headmaster.
“I will cherish this for ever in my hands Appa.”



Which I do till date.It has shown me ups and downs.If the keys dont work I needed to spend a lot to get the keys.If the gears disappear I need to specially fly down to HMT factory to get one.Nowadays it doesn’t lose much time,except for a correction factor of 30 mts Everyday!

The Watch has been a great companion and witness to all my deeds in Various places and countries from Hongkong to NIgeria and South Africa,Oman,Dubai USA ,Europe,UK.It has travelled with me showing dutifully a Time that was always cherished in my memory.

One of them is when I decided to wind up my NIgerian assignment and settled down in Chennai.I had decent job offers and one of them I was seriously considering was as a CEO in TTKs.The ORganiasation appreciated my CV and I was most certainly offered the job when there was a hicup.The Board wanted me to be in Tanjore,where the Tantex factory is located which I refused,saying I had shifted to Madras mainly for my kids’ education and any place other than Madras was non-negotiable.After all they also wanted me.There was a stalemate.

Then T.T.Jagannathan,Group Managing Director called me for a discussion at his office in Bangalore and I went there.He and his mother Padma Narasimhan were alone in the BOard Room when I was asked to come in.He said:
“Suri,we all appreciate your great work in reviving companies in various countries and we do want you in Tantex.But your adamance in not going to Tanjore is the only hitch.”
I said “I cannot go anywhere and after all Tanjore is not far off from Madras and I can visit the factory 3 days in a week sitting in Madras.”
There was a long spell of silence.Then it happened.
He looked at my watch!
“Suri,dont tell me you are wearing a HMT Watch.I expected an Omega or Rolex in your hand,having spent many years abroad?”TTJ said.


“It has more value than all the described watches you just did put together.”
I narrated the story of my watch.
He bacame highly emotional after hearing this story ,especially in front of his Mom.A gigantic fellow,he got up from his chair and literally hugged me and lifted me up:
“Man I like that.I like that.You know something.The whole world thinks TTK means TT KRishnamachary-my Grandpa.NO.NO.NO Way…My Dad.TT Narasimhan used to go all the way to Kerala in 30s and brought things and sold here in BUrma Bazaar and built it up brick by brick by shear hard work….My dad is the one responsible for TTKs…..”
He was emotional too.His mom was watching.
“Suri….You can give me a blank paper and I will sign your appointment letter now and here”he said.

I always felt that I had a great time with not only TTJ but with Narasimhan and Padma who used to even drop into my sweet home for a surprise dinner.I also made Tantex a household name due to sheer hardwork! 

Time is something ,which stands still on occasions like this,especially if you have followed ceratin principles and stood by them,over a period of Time.


About s.rajah iyer

An MBA.. Interested in writing,Reading..Indian Philosophy
This entry was posted in General, Personal and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Story of A Watch…

  1. K.NATARAJAN says:

    Suri, Really GREAT to see your watch and write up.


  2. Hillol Das says:

    Rajah Sir, I remember you told me this story in Hyderabad last year during out city tour. In fact I asked you, why this HMT Sona at this age. Then you told exactly what you wrote here. Great values and great following of that. My salutes. Hillol


  3. Anonymous says:

    Very well written – and how true – it is the complete devotion to principles which give you the compass as you go through life ! I recollect the first time I met you after IIM was at the TTK offices when you were managing Tantex !! We must get together when you visit Charu in the USA next – she has inherited your writing genes !! – Prakash Ahuja


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