These Luxury Timepieces Are Paeans to India’s Rich Cultural Heritage

Be it a caseback engraving of the Gateway of India or a timepiece that celebrates the Indian Air Force, every one of these watches holds a special Indian connection
These Luxury Timepieces Are Paeans to India’s Rich Cultural Heritage
August 15, 2023
These Luxury Timepieces Are Paeans to India’s Rich Cultural Heritage

Watches are an integral part of India’s rich, storied, and incredibly diverse history. If you’ve had the chance to read our in-depth feature about India’s fascination for luxury watches, which dates back to the pre-independence era, you’ll know exactly what we mean. Once you’ve immersed yourself in that GMT India exclusive, read this: we put the spotlight on unique timepieces, released by seven brands over the years, which share a special connection with India.


The brand launched two special limited-edition models in 2013 as a tribute to the city of Mumbai. The engraving on the caseback is of the iconic Gateway of India, the monument that is synonymous with the city.

Panerai Gateway of India
Both these special models double up as a tribute to the city of Mumbai

The Luminor Marina – 44 mm (PAM00544) cased in polished steel with a vintage air – was available in a limited edition of 50. It had a classic black Panerai dial; the hour makers, hands and figures were coated with a special ecru Super-LumiNova®. The timepiece was powered by the hand-wound caliber OP II. The other model, of which only 10 units were made, was the Radiomir 10 Days GMT – 47mm (PAM00553). The elegant case, also in polished steel, perfectly complemented the vintage leather strap. All elements on the black sandwich dial – the figures, the 10-day power reserve indicator, the small seconds dial at 9 o’clock, the calendar, the inscription, ‘Radiomir Panerai GMT’, and the hands – were coated with ecru Super-LumiNova® as well. This model was powered by the automatic caliber P.2003.


All three models belong to the brand's 32-watch collection: A Mythical Journey

Aptly titled ‘A Mythical Journey’, this 32-watch collection from 2014 showcased Piaget’s prowess of effortlessly combining horology with traditional arts and crafts. Dedicated to the rich history of India and China, the watches instantly stood out with their meticulous attention to detail. Three India-inspired models were on offer. First: the Altiplano Double Jeu (43 mm, in white gold, with a diamond-set bezel) that uses an unusual combination of gold leaf and champlevé enamel on the dial to showcase an interpretation of Udaipur’s Lake Palace. Second: the Altiplano Bulino Elephant (38 mm, in rose gold, with a diamond-set bezel) that employs the ‘Bulino’ technique to produce the elephant motif on the rose gold dial. Third: a variant of the Altiplano Double Jeu (43 mm, in an 18 ct rose gold case, set with diamonds) whose dial flaunts a stunning bejewelled peacock.

Louis Moinet

Louis Moinet Taj Mahal
The miniature painting of the Taj Mahal instantly stands out on the 47 mm special-edition timepiece

This stunning timepiece was part of Louis Moinet’s ‘8 Marvels of the World’ collection. Housed in a hand-engraved 47 mm 18 ct rose gold case, the watch had a white marble dial with an intricate miniature painting of the Taj Mahal. The case bore ornamental representations of the Taj Mahal and Indian mandala patterns, complemented by an engraving of a Mughal motif on the bezel. The dial had a polished and rhodium-plated grid that lended a depth effect to the timepiece. The ornamental motifs were inspired by moucharabieh windows found in traditional architecture. The watch — powered by Calibre LM 35 and with a 60-second tourbillon movement — makes for an ideal tribute to the diverse cultural legacy of India.

Vacheron Constantin

Vacheron Constantin Metiers India Manuscript
The attention to detail showcases the brand's commitment to technical and creative excellence

The Vacheron Constantin Métiers d'Art Fabuleux Ornements series, launched at Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie (SIHH) 2014, included four models that celebrate ornamental and artistic crafts of the world, namely Chinese embroidery, Ottoman architecture, French lace, and Indian manuscripts. The Indian Manuscript, with its striking motifs and decoration, celebrates the country’s rich cultural and artistic heritage. The gem-set bezel perfectly sets off the pink gold case, and the dial, composed of 10 enamel colours, depicts oriental-inspired flowers, blooming against a blue sky backdrop, surrounding the skeletonised movement. The decoration’s contours are achieved by using the champlevé technique that creates cells, separated by thin gold partitions, designed to receive the enamels one by one.

Bangalore Watch Company™

Bangalore Watch Company MACH 1 Synchro
The MACH 1 Synchro sports several design features that honour the Indian Air Force team

Released last August, the MACH 1 Synchro is a limited edition of 125 pieces that marks 25 years of the Indian Air Force Formation Aerobatics team, Suryakiran. The MACH 1 collection, introduced in 2019 as a celebration of stories from the Indian Air Force, has now earned itself a reputation of being a quintessential Indian pilot watch, and the MACH 1 Synchro stays true to that spirit. Several design features of the model honour the team; the most striking is the 9-aircraft formation (referred to as the ‘diamond formation’ that the team often performs) at the 9H position. The minute hand has a red-and-white pattern that mimics the livery of the team and also resembles airspeed indicators found in aircraft cockpits. The caseback sports an etching of the 9-aircraft diamond formation too. The watch is paired with a black, hydro-pulled, leather strap that flaunts matching red stitches and accents, with a matching red lining.


These special models highlight the brand's dedication to celebrating rich cultures and traditions

Chopard has always strived to celebrate culture and tradition. Through their latest offerings — the L.U.C Quattro Spirit 25 Ganesh Edition and the L.U.C XP Urushi Ganesh Edition — they’re choosing to honour Lord Ganesh, the elephant-headed god of knowledge and virtue, who is deeply loved across the country. While the former (a limited edition of five) features a Grand Feu enamel dial, the latter (of which only 10 pieces are available) has a dial handcrafted in Japan that makes use of the Urushi lacquer technique. Both models are crafted from 18 ct ethical rose gold and flaunt the sleek lines that the L.U.C collection is known for. To learn more about these two special launches, check out our story here.

Audemars Piguet

Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Sachin Tendulkar
A tribute to both India and Sachin Tendulkar, this Royal Oak makes for a very special collectible

Cricket has remained at the heart of the country’s identity for years, and Sachin Tendulkar is a name that no Indian is a stranger to. To celebrate the ace cricketer’s contribution to the world of cricket, Audemars Piguet, in 2010, revealed the Royal Oak Offshore Sachin Tendulkar Chronograph (ref. 26182ST.OO.D018CR.01) in a limited edition of 300. Cased in stainless steel, the self-winding chronograph has a special caseback engraved with the inscription, ‘Royal Oak OffShore Sachin Tendulkar – Limited Edition’, with a batsman in action marking 35 centuries. The strap has an Indian touch too – the hand-stitchings are in the same colours as the Tricolour.

Jacob & Co Epic X India

This recently-launched stunning 11-piece limited edition — a collaboration between Jacob & Co. and Ethos Watches — celebrates the 20th anniversary of Ethos Watches. The one-of-a-kind model forms part of the skeletonised Epic X collection and is set within a 44 mm “X” shaped case and showcases a flattened, 2D representation of four Indian landmarks: India Gate, the Taj Mahal, the Gateway of India and Qutub Minar. The four X-shaped lugs seamlessly complement the bezel and the overall aesthetics of the watch, and it’s powered by the in-house JCAM02 calibre that offers a power reserve of 48 hours. Available in two iterations, rose gold and titanium, the unique timepiece perfectly encapsulates India’s rich, storied past and the legacy of its historic monuments.

Image credits: Respective brands