In the 1970s, Indians wanted watches that the rest of the world was wearing – smart-looking, foreign, branded watches. A large number of them were smuggled into the country and sold through a well-oiled retail network. Retailers could not offer a formal bill, but instead offered an informal warranty which the Swiss and Japanese manufacturers honoured.
Both Xerxes Desai and Anil Manchanda didn’t want to work in a printing press. Minoo Mody used their ambition to suggest Tata Press as a base to establish a more interesting project. After going through reports on all kinds of projects, they zeroed in on watches. The fact that they knew nothing about watches didn’t daunt them. The Watch Project was thus born, which was later adventitiously renamed as Titan.
Titan’s first exclusive showroom opened in Safina Plaza, Banglaore in the late 90s and it certainly stood out. Curious onlookers, other retailers, members of the watch trade, all came to visit the store. The shop window displayed a large quartz crystal in the centre of a stand of Titan watches. Around 165 watches were on display, with their prices up front for all to see. This was unique in the Indian landscape at that time.
In 1991, the company decided to focus on launching jewellery in the Indian market, which was huge but fragmented comprising thousands of family jewellers. They believed that the Tata name could bring its weighty reputation for trust and fairness as it was an open secret that customers seldom really got all the gold they paid for; ‘undercaratage’ was rampant. This gave Xerxes further impetus to set up what we know today as Tanishq.