The five-decade old Rajkot watch case industry has been facing a reduction in demand, as mobile penetration increases in India. Rajkot, which has been traditionally supplying watch case dials to manufacturers of wrist watches like Titan, Timex and Citizen has seen a 30 per cent dip in demand since past two years. The situation has forced more than 200 units to shut down in Rajkot since past two years.
Earlier Rajkot used to produce more than 0.15 million watch cases per day but now the production has been scaled down to about 0.1 million pieces per day. “Our business has gone down by almost 30 percent in last two years and right now we do not have enough orders from the watch making industry. As mobile phones serve the utility of showing time, hence people are not using the watch for the same,” said Khodidas Patel, managing director, R K products.
As per Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) the number of telephone subscribers in India grew at a rate of 1.29 per cent and increased to 885.99 million at the end of June 2011 from 874.68 million at the end of May 2011.
“Between 2002 and 2008 many local Indian brands had started to import watch cases from China, which had hit the industry hard. Then from the time period of spanning 2009 to 2011, more than 200 watch case manufacturers had to shut down their units and divert to other business because of this reduction in demand,” said Vinod Ramani, the former president, Rajkot Watch Case and Ancillary Association (RWCAA).
As per industry sources , the Chinese competition had led many local brands to shift their focus to Chinese watch case that were cheaper than Indian-made ones. Yielding to the threat by China, the Rajkot watch case industry had also started making cheaper dial cases. “Orders of leading branded companies has decreased in Rajkot during the last two years. This led to many manufacturers to jump to the artificial jewellery or imitation business as well,” said Chirag Sakhiya, managing director of Vishnu Watch International.
Out of 500 units of watch case manufacturers till about three years back, the city now has only around 300 working units left.