It’s an interesting time to be a watch enthusiast in India. While the number of brands available and points of retail are increasing, just one active brand has a virtual monopoly when looking for something that strikes the “close-to-home” chord (yes, it’s the one you’re thinking of). There are, of course, a number of reasons that got us here, which we covered in this story. But the good news is that there’s another player in town to take note of – the Bangalore Watch Company. And we’re going hands-on with the Renaissance collection, their debut release, comprising of the Renaissance Automatic for men and Renaissance Stri for ladies.
In a nutshell
Bangalore Watch Company’s Renaissance collection is a strong offering to put India’s stamp on the map of emerging watch brands. It goes for a refined, elegant look with considered details and quality materials. In both the Renaissance Automatic and Stri, it is evident that the watches have been put together nicely and finished well.
The brand’s background and ‘Bangalore’ on the dial will be a surefire hit for those who would love for their watch to be a piece-of-home. More importantly, it’ll resonate with those who like a fine product where corners haven’t been cut. Right from the unboxing experience to the dial textures, you can see that the brand has thought through the little things and are in it deeply to offer a pleasant wearing and ownership experience.
Collectively, the Renaissance Automatic and Renaissance Stri get a lot of things right for people who care more than usual about what’s on their wrist (see the specs below and you’ll know what I mean). It’s a serious, quality package and quite pleasing to look at. One could argue the watches aren’t ‘Indian’ enough, but given the limited elements and style of watch, I’m kind of glad it didn’t end up as something predictably Indian. For the hands-on, I had the steel versions of the Automatic and Stri with anthracite dials, lent by the brand.
Renaissance Automatic for men
- 40mm case made of surgical-grade steel (316L), water resistant to 100M; 11.5mm height
- Mechanical automatic movement – Miyota 9015 (produced by Citizen group, Japan) with a 42 hour power reserve
- Sapphire crystal over dial (domed) and on the case back (flat)
- Leather strap with stamped crocodile pattern (having quick-release spring bars to easily change straps)
- 3 dial colours available – ivory, silver or anthracite; each can be had in a stainless steel or PVD plated rose-gold case
Renaissance Stri for ladies
- 36mm case made of surgical-grade steel (316L), water resistant to 30M; 8mm height
- Swarovski-set bezel with 72 crystals
- Quartz movement – Ronda, Swiss made with up to 2 year battery life
- Sapphire crystal over dial and stainless steel case-back
- Leather strap with stamped crocodile pattern (having quick-release spring bars to easily change straps)
- 3 dial colours available – opaline, anthracite and green; opaline and anthracite versions can be had in a stainless steel or PVD plated rose-gold case. Green dial only in PVD plated rose-gold case
₹28,799 – ₹32,799
Both watches come with a 2 year warranty.
First impressions of Bangalore Watch Company
Bangalore Watch Company’s packaging for the Renaissance sets expectations high, as the watches come in a glossy, piano-black lacquered box with a decidedly upscale look. The unboxing experience is, indeed, premium and impressive. Many say all that matters is what’s inside, but in my opinion, packaging is a really good way to gauge the level of detail that matters to those behind a brand.
Now onto the watch inside. I’ve handled my fair share of watches across brands and price points and overall coherence is what I look for first. At a glance, the Renaissance Automatic passes this test convincingly. It’s a conservative design, but executed in a visually pleasing manner. Nothing feels off and I’m honestly quite impressed with how nice the radial brushing on the dial looks. Design elements and choices are keenly done – for instance, the shade of grey, framed date window, applied indices and slightly recessed minute markers at intervals of five. Quite a few little things going on when you look closely.
It’s a smart-looking watch that isn’t strictly ‘dress’, given its dimensions, and the anthracite version, in particular, feels like the most versatile of the lot. The 40mm case is a tad large for my 6.25 inch wrist – a mix of physical limitation and personal preference – but I’m in the minority when it comes to the size debate, and most of you likely won’t have any complaints there. The 36mm Stri, with its Swarovski bezel doesn’t jump out at you in a bad way at all and ladies will enjoy the simple elegance of the dial design and the curved, slender case. Since the pricing isn’t entry-level for either of the watches, it’s good to see elements like textured dials, signed crowns, sapphire crystals and mixed finishes on the case.
The watches are made in Hong Kong, while final quality checks and dispatches are done from Bangalore. In an earlier story, we had written about how most Swiss watches aren’t 100% Swiss made (they need to have just 60% Swiss value), so Bangalore Watch Company’s manufacturing origins should be considered in context of how the global watchmaking supply chain works, without the smoke and mirrors of luxury marketing. The brand itself is fairly transparent about this and they cite the lack of watchmaking infrastructure in India as one of the challenges in making a world-class product locally. They do have a point.
Renaissance Automatic on the wrist
When strapped on the wrist, there are a couple of things about the Renaissance Automatic that jump out at you. One, the radial brushing on the dial is really subtly handsome – easily my favourite thing about the watch. Two, the polished hands and applied indices have a depth to them, which you can see as light plays off their different facets. Three, the case has a combination of polished and brushed surfaces which lend it some definition and pop. Together, they give the watch layers and texture, helping it to stand out without being written off as ‘just another dress watch’.
The game changer for me, which made me bond better with the watch, was a new strap, actually. The black leather strap this watch comes with is a safe, versatile choice, but I had other ideas. I replaced it with a dark green crocodile leather strap from my collection and suddenly, the watch assumed a richer character. It feels more personal and complete to me now. Replacing straps is the easiest way of changing looks and keeping it exciting with a single watch; but it’s also the most overlooked. It’s not difficult to do, especially if you have quick-release spring bars on the strap – the kind the Renaissance Automatic ships with. If you’re looking at the Renaissance, you should really consider experimenting with aftermarket straps to spice things up. They can really elevate the watch.
The dimensions of the case are 40mm wide and 11.5mm thick. Traditional dress watches tend to be 36-38mm wide and 8-10mm thick. The positives of this increased size are that it caters to those who prefer a larger, modern size, and the chunkier balance of width vis-a-vis height make it well-suited to more casual situations. Elegant watches like these paired with jeans and a tee is a very underrated combination, in my opinion. It looks really smart and, in my time with it, this watch played well in that zone too.
A watch like the Renaissance Automatic understandably conjures images of being paired with a suit or other formal attire, but more people ought to try dressier watches with casual clothing – it’s a winner in my books. The watch has good presence when worn, balanced by downward sloping lugs that hug the wrist. There aren’t any overpowering elements; though, admittedly, I personally prefer a slightly smaller case diameter.
The lugs have polished chamfers and the outer edge of the bezel is polished too. The rest of the case has a brushed finish with a nice sheen. It’s not all that common to have mixed finishes at this price point and I’m glad to see Bangalore Watch Company sweat these details to achieve a premium appearance.
One look at the dial in person will tell you that Bangalore Watch Company did their homework to ensure you repeatedly feel like looking at it. I’ve expressed my admiration for it more than once above, especially the texture. The hand-applied minute and hour markers undoubtedly take inspiration from the Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Ultra Thin and the Vacheron Constantin Patrimony, but the similarity doesn’t go beyond that, once you consider the appearance in its entirety. For example, the arrow-shaped counterweight of the seconds hand is an uncommon, deft touch. There’s a framed date window at 3 o clock, with a white date wheel. So while the colour of the date wheel isn’t matched to the dial, the frame helps to balance it out and not let the difference feel disturbing.
The dauphine hands have a strip of luminescent material on them, but they don’t glow too bright in the dark. Also, while the sapphire crystal does have anti-reflective coating, the level of reflection seen gives away that the application isn’t very generous. I didn’t find either of these elements bothersome, though. Practically, I’m going to reach for a different watch for a situation where I really need to see time in the dark and flawless legibility is of paramount importance (think scuba diving or a mountain trek).
Movement and case-back
Powering the Renaissance Automatic is the popular and reliable Japanese Miyota 9015 from the Citizen group, beating at 28,800 vibrations per hour or 4 Hertz. The piece I had maintained average accuracy of +7 seconds per day; pretty good for this level of movement.
The mechanism is visible thanks to the sapphire crystal case-back. You can see the balance wheel oscillate – a sight that never stops being equal parts charming and amazing. The rotor is tiled with a laser-etched Bangalore Watch Company logo, which you also see on the crown and applied on the dial. Other information visible on the case-back is the serial number of your watch (out of 500), 100M water resistance, along with ‘Sapphire Crystal’ and ‘Designed in Bangalore’.
Ever so often, the only description people give when looking for a new timepiece is that they want a ‘nice watch’. In a sense, it usually means something simple and timeless where the element of quality is easily discernible. Notwithstanding competition from Switzerland, the Renaissance Automatic is certainly a ‘nice watch’ in its segment.
Thoughts on the Renaissance Stri
Case and bezel
The Stri is a simple design executed well. The classic sensibility of the Renaissance collection carries over here too and, as is the case with the Automatic, the subtle touches come together as an enjoyable whole. Most notable is the rose-gold crown on the steel case, making for an interesting side-profile contrast and an uncommon design cue. It plays off the rose-gold hands and indices quite nicely.
The 36mm size of the watch is relatively generous for a ladies piece by classical standards, but not so much if one goes by current trends. It’s as understated as a watch with stone-set bezel can be – the Swarovski setting has been done elegantly, in a manner that is neither garish nor over-the-top. I feel it’ll also be nice to see a version without crystals on the bezel. There is a growing market for simpler things and somehow, well-executed, conservative designs are always in short supply.
Dial and movement
While I spent more time with the anthracite version, I’ve also seen the Stri with opaline dial and the sunburst finish on it looks extremely delightful. It’s clearly done to a high standard and is easily my pick. Stri is powered by a Swiss quartz movement; a good choice, since it’s a preferred convenience for most ladies’ watches. No worrying about time-setting, winding or power reserve.
Though this leads to the one thing I’d change about the watch – the seconds hand doesn’t consistently hit the second markers on the dial at some points in the review piece I had. It’s something to note if you believe this is likely to bother you. Or better yet, speak to the brand in advance about this – it’s the advantage of dealing with a small, owner-driven setup.
Depending on taste, this could be your everyday watch or reserved for dress-up occasions. But either way, it’s well put-together and you’ll enjoy it if a bit of sparkle is your thing.
Pricing and buying
All variants of the Renaissance Automatic for men are priced at ₹38,799. Price for the Renaissance Stri ranges from ₹28,799 – ₹32,799, depending on the case and dial configuration. Orders can be placed online on the brand’s website BangaloreWatchCo.in. Seeing the Renaissance watches in the metal and observing where the effort has gone certainly allows for better appreciation of why the price point is what it is, as is the case with most timepieces.
Bangalore Watch Company currently does not have any physical retail presence. However, founders Nirupesh and Mercy are very responsive and enjoy speaking to anyone with an interest in the brand. So reach out to them with any questions you may have ([email protected]). I wrote this before, but such a level of direct connection is one of the nicest perks of supporting a local, homegrown brand.
In the time I spent I with Bangalore Watch Company’s Renaissance timepieces, what I liked more than anything else was seeing an India-imagined brand thinking seriously about well-constructed watches with the right idea about finish, quality and sound design. The Renaissance Auto is a very enjoyable, versatile, daily watch. I liked seeing the dial do its thing under different light – the watch’s nicest attribute, according to me. It’s a serious offering made with a lot of thought and the same can be said about the Renaissance Stri.
For those of you thinking this doesn’t have as much Indian flavour as you’d want, keep your eyes peeled for Bangalore Watch Company’s follow-up release – the aviation-inspired Mach 1. You’ll see the promise the brand holds when you view these watches together.
Who’s it for: A quality-conscious watch enthusiast who would like to carry an Indian connection on their wrist
Talking point: The second coming of Bangalore in India’s watchmaking history
Best thing about it: Quality, elegant timepieces coming from an Indian brand
Winning combination: Well-finished cases + Textured dials
One thing I’d change: Straps the watches come with
Amish is India’s first Watch Expert, certified by the Fondation de la Haute Horlogerie (FHH), Switzerland.
If you have any questions or thoughts about Bangalore Watch Company or its watches, let us know in the comments below. We’d love to hear from you!