Updated: July 26, 2021 9:17:49 pm
Written by Riya Joseph
Timegrapher, a community of horology enthusiasts in Kerala, has come out with ‘Nazhika’, the first-ever watch featuring a Malayalam numerical script.
Founded in 2019 by Sohan Balachandran, Timegrapher provides a platform for watch collectors and enthusiasts to come together to engage over their common interests. Horology is the study of the measurement of time.
“I always had an interest in watches and clocks. But unfortunately, there was no community focusing on it in Kerala or southern India. That’s why I started Timegrapher. Initially, it was concentrated within Thiruvananthapuram, but over time after the first wave of Covid-19, the community just grew and we had a lot more people joining in from different parts of Kerala,” said Sohan Balachandran.
Balachandran explained how the idea of ‘Nazhika’ came about. “Malayalam numerals were used in a book that I had once read. But when I asked around, even people of the older generations did not really know about it. So we approached Dr Desamangalam Ramakrishnan, the former head of the Malayalam department at Kerala University and he confirmed that there was indeed a numeral script being used in Malayalam,” he said. The Malayalam numerals, the professor said, had become obsolete after the introduction of the Arabic numerals.
The watch is named after a unit used to measure time and distance in pre-independent Kerala. In fact, the watch is doubly unique because it employs the same system. “One nazhika is 24 minutes and that is the time taken by the earth to rotate six degrees. We thought that we’d further incorporate that into the watch as well. We had another inner track inserted into the dial so that the nazhika unit can also be read.”
The eco-friendly watch reuses materials sourced from all over India and was assembled by Ali Bagasrawala, an expert in watch restoration and CEO and founder of Bombay Watch.
Graphic designer Dilip Maniyappan custom-made the font for the dial. Another interesting feature of the watch is that it works by being wound manually and operates for up to 40 hours at a time.
Speaking about the collaborative effort, Nishad SN, a member of Timegrapher, said, “We wanted to do something fun which will essentially engage the community members. As we are a collective from Kerala, we wanted the project to be an extension of the state’s culture and regional inputs.” Only 40 units of the limited-edition watch have been produced, in alignment with the popular Malayalam saying that goes ‘Nazhikkaku Nalpathu Vattam’ (40 times in a nazhika).
‘Nazhika’ was formally unveiled by Prince Adithya Varma of the erstwhile royal family of Travancore at Kowdiar Palace in Thiruvananthapuram on July 9.
Riya Joseph is an intern with indianexpress.com, based in Thiruvananthapuram
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