‘It cannot be done!’ said the Swiss watch makers. In the watch industry, the Swiss are the ultimate court of appeal. The way the Titan Edge, the world’s slimmest water resistant watch was produced, is a lesson in persistent and patient problem solving, innovations. It was an example of an Indian company’s refusal to give up. It all began in 1994. Mr. Xerxes Desai, then Managing director of Titan said, ‘Create a 3.5mm, water resistant watch – a watch as slim as a credit card. It took the Titan team four years and when they started in 1984 they were just a decade old…’
What were the challenges?
1) To instill self confidence in the team.
2) Ensure buy-in from key people.
3) The engineering challenge.
When everyone heard that the Swiss could not-do it, the virus of self doubt was rampant. This was overcome by the infectious confidence of top management.
Watch manufacturers in the past had been copy-cats. Since the 1950’s Indian companies had never manufactured a watch all by themselves.Titan attempted this from 1992. The Edge was an answer to the reigning lifestyle mantra, verbalized by a famous Hollywood queen who said ‘You cannot be too rich or too thin!’ It was a close collaboration between manufacturing, technology and research. Marketing took three years to embrace it. Between movements, cases and assembly, the challenge was to create a delicate watch, which was tough enough for the challenges of daily wear. They needed a slimmer battery with a longer battery life and less power consumption. The war had to be carried to the supplier’s tables and this meant a global search. The solution was a silicon chip which was developed to extend the battery life. Part of the manufacturing was out-sourced to Switzerland. All the tools required for the assembly were supplied by Titan! Even the glass had to be of .03mm thickness or as thick as three sheets of paper – a 75% reduction in thickness. It is one of India’s major product innovation, putting us on the world map!