Marking The Hours With Cawas Pundole of C.T. Pundole & Sons On Authorised Service Centers & More

Marking The Hours With Cawas Pundole of C.T. Pundole & Sons On Authorised Service Centers & More

THM Desk
23 May 2024 |
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With a 115 year old legacy, C.T Pundole and Sons is one of the oldest luxury authorised watch service center based in Pune. Equipped with the latest horology repair and servicing technologies, their presence was built brick by brick, with a team of watch consultants rather than salespeople chasing targets.

We caught up with Cawas Pundole to discuss the journey, thoughts on service centers in India and more!

THM: Tell us a little bit about your service center and the ideology behind starting it?

Pundole: Our store was started in 1909, 115 years ago. At that time, there were no sales as we have now; it was mainly focused on repairs. Since its inception, we have had a full-fledged service center. As generations passed, my father also took an interest in service, and he even went to Switzerland to train.

Since the late 70's and early 80's, we have been an authorized service center for certain Swiss brands. In fact, my brother spent an entire year in Switzerland in 1975, where he was trained in the Ostep (Omega Swiss Technical and Educational Program) watches of Switzerland. After that, from 1975 to 2010-15, he would visit Switzerland often for an upgradation.

C.T. Pundole & Sons, Pune

As he aged, our technicians now visit Switzerland couple of times a year to update themselves on the new product ranges and technical advancements. Since we are the authorized service center for several Swiss brands, they ensure that our staff is technically qualified and equipped with the necessary equipment to handle their watches appropriately, so that their name and our reputation remain intact.

Mr Cawas Pundole
Mr Cawas Pundole

THM: What are the kind of technologies that your service center is equipped with? 

Pundole: Given that many new brands are emerging, implementing new technologies is crucial to stay ahead of the curve. If someone were to start fresh, they would have to purchase everything from scratch. However, in our case, we have had a service center for years, so we have been gradually adding equipment as and when required. It's a never-ending process. Even this year, we imported certain tools because nowadays, all new watches require special tools even to open the case-back. If our service center is not equipped with those tools, we cannot handle the watches acurately.

That's why customers are always advised to take their high valued watches to authorized service centers only. These centers have the technical know-how and the necessary equipment to handle high-end watches properly, hence you avoid the risk of damaging you watch due to a lack of specialized tools and expertise.

C.T Pundole & Sons Service Center
C.T Pundole & Sons Service Center

THM: How does C.T. Pundole & Sons maintain a competitive edge over other authorised service centers? 

Pundole: We have an excellent reputation in the watch industry, both with customers and brands. When you ask brands like Patek Philippe, they will assure you to close your eyes and send your watches to us. We have never given brands or customers any reason to feel that we have cheated them and always provide service strictly as per the brand guidelines.

Even for service charges, every brand has a fixed price list that is practically the same all over the world, not just the country. If you get a watch serviced in India, Dubai, Switzerland or Singapore, the price would be the same after accounting for currency fluctuations and we abide by those prices. Certain people may want to make a quick buck by overcharging, but we don't do that because we have been here for generations.

Early days of C.T Pundole and Sons
Early days of C.T Pundole and Sons

I am already the fourth generation in this business, and my son and daughter, the fifth generation, are taking care of it. What sets us apart is our honesty in providing the right kind of service and advice. We never lie to customers that their watch needs servicing if it doesn't. If only a battery change is required, we recommend that instead of pushing for a full service to make more money. 

We don't want to become rich overnight. For me, my reputation is far more important than the money I earn. Money is secondary. Above all, I would like to maintain an impeccable reputation, and under no circumstances would I tarnish our image at any cost.

THM: Your son and daughter are the 5th generation managing the business. What change have they brought about in the business? 

Pundole: My son has been in the business for over 20 years, and my daughter for over 10 years. They have brought in technological changes and modern thinking that I was not equipped with. The new generation cannot stick to the old ways; we have to change as per market scenarios and needs. These young leaders have introduced many changes in sales and service.

Some key changes include leveraging social media, revamping the website, adopting new technologies to acquire new clients, and focusing on data and analytics. Previously, we did not have a proper tracking system for our business. Now, each and every spare part, down to the last screw, is tracked on computers. I can immediately check if we have a particular part in stock.

Whenever a part is given to a mechanic, it is entered into the system, automatically updating the stock. We have become absolutely tech-savvy, which is crucial. Working on our data and analytics is an ongoing process that we continuously improve upon. While I could not have implemented such changes, the new generation is doing a fantastic job in this area.
Discussing the specific data and analytics strategies would be an internal matter. However, working on leveraging data is a constant endeavor here, and we will continue enhancing it further to stay ahead of the curve.

THM: If a customer comes to you with a certain part request and if it’s unavailable at your service center, what are the next steps?

Pundole: I cannot manufacture spare parts myself or buy them from the open market. Nor can I remove parts from new products to use as spares. The only way for me to obtain genuine spare parts is directly from the brand itself. We do not purchase any parts from outside sources.

We are fortunate to be an authorized service center for many brands, which allows us to procure spare parts from them. Otherwise, the brands would not provide us with spares. Even if another retailer approaches us for parts, we have to refuse as we are not authorized to sell spare parts. The parts we receive are for our own consumption and repairs only.
If a customer requires a specific part urgently, we can request the company to provide it at the earliest. For certain brands like Swatch Group, LVMH, Seiko, and Citizen, they maintain stock in India itself, so we receive the required parts within 3-4 days via courier once an email is sent, provided they have it in stock.

C.T. Pundole & Sons, Pune

However, if the part needs to be imported from Japan or Switzerland, it takes around 1 to 1.5 months to arrive. This lengthy timeline applies only for obtaining rare or odd items. For regular, commonly used parts, we keep sufficient stock, and the brands also maintain decent inventory levels to cater to all their authorized service centers across the country.

THM: What is the team like at C.T Pundole & Sons? 

Pundole: We have four people handling delivery and accepting watch deliveries, along with six mechanics. However, not all mechanics are at the same technical level. Those with lower qualifications are assigned to service economy brand watches. If they require any assistance, the senior technicians are available to guide them.

Our senior technicians have undergone rigorous training, not just in India from various companies but also in Switzerland. They possess advanced technical expertise to handle complex repairs and services for high-end luxury timepieces. The seniors provide oversight and support to the junior mechanics whenever needed, ensuring every watch receives the appropriate level of care and service from our team.

Mr. Cawas Pundole Examining a watch

THM: Lastly, what is your advice on people choosing between authorised and unauthorised service centers? 

Pundole: There is only one authorized service center for luxury watch brands, the rest cannot be considered in the same category. There are very few authorized service centers in the country. We always suggest our customers get their watches serviced at an authorized center.

At an authorized center, you will receive service that replicates the standards of the brand's own factory. Whether it's an old 50-year-old watch, a 10-year-old one, or a new 2-year-old piece, our aim is to restore it to like-new condition. The case is polished and buffed, and the movement is completely disassembled, serviced, and reassembled with utmost precision.
Simply opening a watch is not enough - anyone can do that. But properly reassembling it, using the right quantity and type of lubrication oils requires extensive technical know-how. There are 10 different types of oils and greases, and using the wrong oil on a specific component can prevent the watch from functioning correctly.

Moreover, using excessive lubrication doesn't improve performance; it can make the movement cloggy and attract more dust, causing the watch to stop prematurely. The amount of lubrication must be carefully regulated according to the brand's technical specifications. Each luxury brand has its own unique technical standards, approved oils, and service procedures that require specialized expertise. Servicing a luxury timepiece is not a generic process - everything is highly specialized.