The Time Maker

Alisha Shinde
Wednesday, 26 September 2018

With Grand Seiko being launched in the city, grandmaster Satoshi Hiraga showed the kind of precision and passion needed to handcraft the watches

Watches have become a style statement more than a necessity. But there’s a lot that goes into making the impressive timepieces. If you watch a watchmaker at work, only then can you understand and marvel at the labour, precision and patience needed to create the classic watches.     
Pune-based C T Pundole and Sons recently completed 110 years in the city. To celebrate this milestone, they launched Grand Seiko, a luxury line of watches from Seiko, in the city and organised a live demonstration for people to see how the masterpieces are made by grandmaster Satoshi Hiraga who has been with Seiko for over two decades. 

We too tried our hands at it and all we can say is that it is really difficult to assemble a watch. Observing the dexterous Hiraga at work, we firmly believe that assembling a watch is best left to the experts.

With calm and steady hands, Hiraga created the timepiece. And not once did his hand twitch and not a single tiny screw fell from his hand. “Well, what can I say, a steady hand and a lot of concentration is needed to assemble a perfect watch. If you don’t have a steady hand, you can’t make an accurate watch,” says Hiraga who has been awarded the  grandmaster title. Right now, Seiko, Japan, has only two grandmasters. 

Ask him how he managed to earn the title and he says, “I have always been fascinated by watches, the way the hands move, the way it tells time and, most importantly, the precision with which watches are made is all very interesting to know. I had to try my hand at it.” 

Even though Hiraga is a master watchmaker, he needs to be completely focussed when making them. “Assembling a watch is extremely challenging, you are literally racing against time to make the dial of the watch,” he says explaining that there are about 250 to 300 tiny parts that are used to make a single piece and since they are so tiny, getting a good grip over them is difficult at times. “Handling with precision and without messing a piece, you have to assemble the body of the watch in under 15 minutes, every single time,” he adds.

If you are wondering why not make use of machines instead of human hands to make the watches, Hiraga has this to say: “Our hands can do wonders that a machine can’t. Our hands are sturdy and yet gentle because of which it makes it much easier for a human hand to manoeuvre over the watch. Also, the stability that is needed to make it is not really delivered by a machine.”

Telling us about some of the qualities that a watchmaker must posses, he says from his experiences that a watchmaker should have the ability to observe minute details and learn and always work patiently. “For a watch to function well, a sense of responsibility is required to make it, because people are ready to pay any amount of money for a single piece and it is our duty to deliver value for that kind of money and also excel in craftsmanship,” he says.

Hiraga has made innumerable watches. Ask him what are his favourites and he says none because he has put in the same amount of effort in making the ones which cost less than Rs 5,000 and the ones which cost more than Rs 5 lakh. “For me, all watches are equally important because I want to deliver a one-of-a-kind piece to the customers who show so much trust in what we do,” he concludes. 

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