Nazhika: The First-ever Watch With Malayalam Numerals

We’re all aware that there’s a certain section of people who take a fancy to vintage watches. TimeGrapher, a collective of horology enthusiasts in Kerala, took their passion up a notch by creating Nazhika. It’s the world’s first watch with Malayalam numerical script. The word Nazhika was used during the pre-Independent times as a unit to measure time and distance. It goes well with the Malayalam saying ‘Nazhikkaku Nalpathu Vattam’ (40 times in a nazhika). The watch is an ode to Kerala’s historical and cultural significance.

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Sohan Balachandran, a watch connoisseur and the founder of TimeGrapher, started this community to bring together like-minded people to engage in conversations. It started in the Capital city of Kerala, Trivandrum. But, COVID-19 presented an opportunity for Sohan to expand the community by welcoming enthusiasts from different parts of Kerala.

How Was Nazhika Born?

Sohan was aware that Malayalam numerals were used at one point in time in Kerala. He started to ask around the older generations to know if it even existed. But, they didn’t really know about it. He then went on to meet Dr Desamangalam Ramakrishnan, the former head of the Malayalam department at Kerala University. Dr Desamangalam Ramakrishnan confirmed the existence of Malayalam numerals, which became old-fashioned after Arabic numerals entered the scene.

In an interview, Sohan shared, “One Nazhika is 24 minutes and that is the time taken by the earth to rotate six degrees. We thought that we’d further incorporate that into the watch as well. We had another inner track inserted into the dial so that the Nazhika unit can also be read.”

You need to manually wound the watch for it to work. It can work up to 40 hours. Only 40 units of Nazhika exist, making it a limited-edition watch. Sohan has mentioned that this is a zero-profit initiative.

The Design

Would you believe it if we said that Nazhika is an eco-friendly watch? The materials used in the watch were sourced from across India. It was assembled together by Ali Bagasrawala, the CEO at Bombay Watch. The font for the dial is custom-made. All the credit of that goes to the graphic designer Dilip Maniyappan and TimeGrapher member Nishad S N.


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“The dials of the watches are handpainted by artisans in Rajasthan. The backside is made of transparent glass, so you can see the movement of the watch entirely. The orange track above the numerals shows the nazhika. Each time the hour hand touches it, one nazhika has passed,” shared Sohan.

Aishwarya Gopinath
A foodie at heart, an aspiring novelist, and an enthusiastic writer by nature, I love to dig deep into culture and lifestyle of the place and people around me. I hope to make people cry, laugh, smile, angry, and satisfied with my writing.


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