City Secret – Old Swiss Watches, Nizamuddin Basti
Finding lost time.
[Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi]
Here you get old hand-wound Swiss watches for cheap.
Javed Husain Khan’s roadside ‘counter’ stands under a babool tree, at the border of central Delhi’s Nizamuddin Basti and Nizamuddin West.
Keeping the watches on the wooden top, the soft-spoken Mr Khan says, “These are all Swiss brands. This is Nino, this is (Henri) Sandoz and look, this is Favre-leuba. It is more than 60 years old.”
Depending on the intensity of your excitement, Mr Khan can price the watch you are eyeing anywhere between Rs 500 and Rs 2000. Buy it even if he demands more. A similar watch of the same vintage would cost more than ten times that amount in a showroom.
“I have dealers in various cities like Calcutta and Lucknow who obtain these watches from families willing to old sell things they no longer need.”
Wearing an eye-glass, Mr Khan settles down with an old Titoni. “Most of my clients are foreigners.”
Mr Khan also repairs old watches. A resident of Okhla in south Delhi, he opens his shop daily at 2 pm. I have often seen him working on the watches as late as 11 in the night. His noble face exudes great dignity.
A few months ago Mr Khan sold me a Henri Sandoz for Rs 600. During a trip to Paris, a connoisseur of antique watches declared it “authentic and elegant.” I told him this watch came down to me from my rich grandfather who was private secretary to the Raja of Benares.
Where Nizamuddin Basti Nearest Metro Station Jangpura Time 2pm to 11 pm Phone 9711052575