Once highly sought after, horologists stare at death of their ‘art’
Srinagar: Once a thriving and profitable vocation, clock and watchmakers in Srinagar today are living a life of penury with some even converting their repair shops into tea stalls to make ends meet.
These horologists blame the advent of smartphones for replacing traditional watches and alarm clocks, leading to the current decline in their trade.
Mohammad Yousuf Khanday, who once was considered to be an expert in the craft, now sells tea at the same shop.
“Once I was a technically equipped watchmaker. Today I am a chaiwala,” Khanday told PTI, adding that he was associated with the trade for nearly 30 years.
“Due to the advent of smart phones, gradually this business started to die. We were very happy and satisfied with our profession. Being technically skilled, I used to service clocks and wristwatches and sell calculators as well,” Khanday added.
However, as the demand for horology started declining, the 48-year-old changed his line of activity. “For the survival of my family, I started selling tea. Fortunately, I had the shop which I converted into a tea stall.”
Another watchmaker Mohammed Hussain continued this profession for almost five decades.
“It is my family business. My father and uncle also used to do the same. I learned the skill of the trade at a very young age from my father. I was passionate about my work,” Hussain said.
The watchmaker said he has seen good days as well.
“Earlier our work used to go on very smoothly and several people used to work in this line of profession. They were quite prosperous too. We used to be busy repairing clocks and watches of all shapes and sizes,” he recalled.
However, now smartphones have replaced the traditional clocks and watches and they have all of its features like the timer and alarm, Hussain added.
Back in those days, there used to be numerous clock-repairing shops as well.
“But now we don’t even get mechanics. No one wants to learn this skill as everyone has acknowledged that there is no future in this profession. But we are on the verge of retirement and now we can’t opt for any other profession. Presently labourers earn around five hundred rupees per day, but we only earn a meagre sum of Rs 150 a day.” he added.
Mohammad Hashim too learned his skills from his father.
“I used to help my father along with his technicians. There were four watchmakers in this area,” he said.
Hussain feels that clocks are still being sold but mainly as decorative pieces.
“Clocks are now used for decoration in households and that is the only reason that they are still being sold. Those who used to work in the watch-making line have now switched to modern electronic shops,” he added.