Watch Out! - The HMT Pilot Review

HMT was an Indian watch manufacture with factories in Bangalore, Kochi, Hyderabad, Pinjore, and Ajmer. At one time, the company was the country’s largest supplier of wrist watches. HMT also dealt in several other areas, making equipment for metal processing, tractors, printing presses, etc. The majority of the company was shut down in 2016 due to failing business.

In 1961, HMT began a watch manufacturing facility in Bangalore, partnering with Citizen Watch Co. of Japan. Over the years they expanded the manufacturing capabilities; essentially creating their own HMT movements. One of the most common movements seems to be the HMT 0230/0231, which was essentially a clone of the Citizen 0201 movement.

The HMT Pilot is one of the popular designs they created over the years. While called a Pilot, it doesn’t match up with the designs of most Pilot watches over the years. At 35mm in diameter, with only the 12 position as printed Arabic digits, the watch is more of a dressy vintage watch.

My watch sold as New Old Stock – and while it definitely looks unworn, it is also evident that the dial is a repaint.  That said, the whole watch has a decent, vintage look to it. It may have been assembled out of leftover parts stock from the factory closures.

On mine, the crown sticks out a little bit – the threading may need to be cut back slightly to get the crown to fit properly. 

When I received my watch, it would not run. I was surprised at this, but since I’ve had a little practice on an ETA movement, I cracked the back open to find a pallet fork that was not mating with the balance wheel. A little nudge, and it started right up. 

 Look at that vintage style movement!
Look at that vintage style movement!

The watch is light and thin, thanks to the hand winding movement. Winding is smooth and lets you know when it’s fully wound. 

The movement is essentially a 1960s design, running at 18,000 BPH. It sports a Citizen designer Parashock shock absorber for the balance wheel. The power reserve is around 38-40 hours. 

The back of the watch is a press fit, with a small O-ring to help resist moisture. 

In keeping with the vintage design, the crystal is domed acrylic. This polishes up very nicely, with a slight magnifying effect around the edges. Inside, the seconds hand is bent slightly down to fit properly. 

This is a unique and uncommon piece of wrist wear that would pair really nicely with a leather strap, with an easy-to-manage 18mm width.

I’m pretty excited to have this piece in my collection; my first handwinder that has vintage styling and heritage, while still essentially being new. 

The best part for me was the price: $32, with free shipping.  Since the dial isn’t truly original, a lot of fun could be had customizing this or swapping dials to get a lot of style miles out of this watch.