Delhiwale: Nizamuddin Basti’s Swiss connection

Public interest: A second-hand dealer of rare watches operates alone out of a tiny workshop in Delhi’s Nizamuddin Basti. He does not charge a fortune, and is courteous to a fault.

Updated: Jun 30, 2017 14:19:33

By Mayank Austen Soofi

At Javed Husain Khan’s stall at New Markazi Market, in Nizamuddin Basti, you can get second-hand Swiss watches for cheap. (Mayank Austen Soofi / HT Photo)

The extremely frail Javed Husain Khan sells second-hand Swiss watches — for a bargain. His stall is a cutesy hole-in-the-wall in New Markazi Market, a basement lane of small shops in Nizamuddin Basti.

Here you get old, hand-wound Swiss watches for cheap. Mr Khan has almost every Swiss brand — Nino, Henri Sandoz, Titoni, Favre-leuba, Titus, Roamer… and even Rolex or Omega, if he takes a liking for you.

Mr Khan charges a fairly small amount for these watches — usually between Rs 800 to Rs 2,000. A similar watch of the same vintage would cost more than ten times that amount in a showroom. “I have dealers in various cities such as Kolkata and Lucknow who obtain these watches from families willing to sell old things they no longer need.”

A native of Rampur in Uttar Pradesh, Mr Khan also repairs watches and is usually working alone, peering intently over family heirlooms. Mr Khan is always seen wearing an eyeglass that would have made somebody else appear like a pirate, but he remains the very portrait of gentleness.

He speaks softly and always insists on treating you to the neighbourhood tea stall’s horribly milky chai. A resident of Okhla in south Delhi, Mr Khan opens his shop daily at 2pm. We have often seen him working on the watches till as late as 11pm.

Come to his shop; you don’t even have to buy his watches. Just to watch him work and hear him talk in chaste Urdu would be worth the time.

WHERE: New Markazi Market, Nizamuddin Basti

BEST TIME: Evening


First Published: May 17, 2017 10:01:54


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