Nearly a hundred years after the daring Kakori train dacoity, a Mumbai-based watchmaker and collector has recreated the August 9, 1925 events through an analogue watch as a tribute to one of the first political dacoities against the British rule.
Vikram Narula, who has turned his Powai residence into a watch warehouse, storing 1,000 timepieces, has used an enamel dial, typical of that period, and the 24-hour railway timetable format for the watch, named ‘Kakori 8 Down’ after the train that was robbed by revolutionaries of the Hindustan Republican Army (HRA) between Lucknow and Saharanpur, near the town of Kakori.
Several revolutionaries, including freedom fighter Chandrashekhar Azad, had robbed money chests meant for the British government treasury that the train was transporting. While several of the revolutionaries were caught, put on trial and sentenced to death by the British, Azad was shot dead in an encounter in 1931.
“I have always been fascinated by events in Indian history and I thought why not put the design on to watch?” the 49-year-old entrepreneur, who quit a corporate job in 2015 to start making watches, told The Indian Express.
In an era of smart watches that can track the wearer’s every step, heartbeat, and even answer phone calls with a mere flick of the wrist, Narula said with ‘Kakori 8 Down’, he had literally turned the clock back on watchmaking.
Design cues like a nine-hour marker on the dial of the watch, Narula said, stands for the date of the robbery, while ‘25’ marked in the minute register denotes the year of the heist. Other interesting features of the watch are the alphabets ‘H’, ‘R’ and ‘A’ in the word ‘BHARAT’ inscribed at the bottom of the watch face — the three letters stand out from the rest to denote the acronym for Hindustan Republican Army. The second’s hand is a small arrow which rotates 360 degrees to signify ‘yatra, tatra, sarvatra’ denoting the Indian railway network, Narula said.
“It takes me around six months — from ideation to concept design — to execute the final product,” Narula, who works with three professional watchmakers to give shape to his designs, said.
Other commemorative designs by Narula’s company AJWAIN (Analogue Jewelled Watches and Instruments Network) include a homage to Royal Enfield bike riders with a watch called ‘Half Mast’; ‘A Black Hole’ to pay tribute to scientist Stephen Hawking; and a watch called ‘Tri’ highlighting Indian identity in the design, and a fusion of the Indian Tricolour and the National emblem.