Birth of an icon

by Cheryl D. Harty

Khalsa 1699 Watches was launched mid 2020 and in just over a year has carved out a niche for stylish timepieces that are unique in bearing the revered Khanda insignia. The brand had its genesis in 2019 when Khalsa 1699 Watches founder and CEO, Danny Singh was staying at the Savoy in London. One morning at breakfast he invited two guests, an Italian and an Englishman to join his table. Their discussions that day would inspire Mr Singh’s next business move. “At the time I had been looking for a new venture and as I shook hands and walked away from the table, I had decided to design my own range of watches. I then spent the most frustrating afternoon of my life. I did not know what logo to use and what I would call them,” the Melbourne-based businessman recalled.

Still grappling with the conundrum back at his hotel he tried to get some sleep later that night. “That night, the answer came to me in a dream. While I was sleeping, I dreamt of the flag flying above the Golden Temple. It seemed to be telling me: ‘Why are you looking for a symbol when you are born into the Sikh heritage? You are born into this symbol.’”

The triangular flag flying above the Golden Temple – spiritually the most significant shrine in Sikhism – is known as the Nishan Sahib which carries the Sikh symbol of Khanda. Sikhism is the religion and philosophy founded in the Punjab region of the Indian subcontinent. Danny Singh is a Sikh and the second generation of his family to be born outside the subcontinent in Australia. At 4am, he got out of bed, sat down and began to draw the Khanda Sahib emblem he had seen on the flag in his dream. “It was as though in the chaos of life I had forgotten my spiritual identity. The dream gave me a pathway to a new reality,” he recalled.

Mr Singh looked to the 320th anniversary of the founding of the revered Khalsa movement, Khalsa 1699, to inspire his new watch brand. Sikhs regard the Khanda as the symbol of the Khalsa faith. Each watch in the Khalsa 1699 range carries the Khanda symbol, reflecting an exotic martial heritage and embodying the spirit of freedom. Khalsa 1699 is the only brand in the world to use the revered Khanda symbol as its logo. The watches are designed in Australia and manufactured in Switzerland and Hong Kong. Materials, proportions, movements and contrasting elements are purposely selected for each watch style.

The Khalsa 1699 Watches range caters for men and women. Models include Ocean Lion, Heritage, Speedster, Kaur, Enigma and Divine.

The first watch to be released under the Khalsa 1699 brand was a professional diver’s watch dubbed Ocean Lion, which was launched in July 2021. Designed to operate in depths of up to 500 metres, the Swiss made watch features luminous dial indicators to ensure optimal visibility. Made with over 200g of stainless steel, it has an open case back.

“When I knew I had to bring out a watch with the revered Khanda Sahib on it, I knew it could not be a cheap one. The Ocean Lion is a diver’s dream watch,” Mr Singh said. One hundred pieces of the Ocean Lion were initially released and sold. A second generation of Ocean Lion watches featuring an embossed Khanda on the buckle has also been released onto the market and has moved well.

Today the Khalsa 1699 Ocean Lion collection comprises three styles: Stealth Commander, Abyss Black and Marine Blue.

“The Ocean Lion watch is a very masculine piece and has got a real force. The lion is a symbol of Khalsa and is a title that is given to every Sikh man as his middle name, which is Singh. The lion is very close and dear to all us in our culture. Thus the name, Ocean Lion. “We also have the highly coveted Singh watch. The world’s first super luminous watch, it comes in a limited edition of 5000 pieces,” he said.

The Khalsa 1699 Singh watch has a Khanda Sahib stamped into the clasp and crown and a deep etched lion’s head and Khanda crown etched into the back of the case. Each one is numbered with a lifetime warrantly. In November, 2021, Khalsa 1699 introduced the first Ocean Lion watch with a diamond, sapphire and ruby bezel.

“We have come up with an original design for the bezel which will be unique to us in style in the way the diamonds are set and the colour combination. I have had our jewellery team working on it very hard. We will have these bezels available from the website as an add-on. If somebody wants to buy one of these luxury watches, we will organise the Ocean Lion and will then source the bezel through our company jewellers. We will create and manufacture the watch, put the bezel on the watch face and then deliver the completed watch,” Mr Singh explained.

The luxury aquatic Sea Tiger, a 200 metre dive watch, is scheduled to be released onto the market in December. With a AAA grade finish, this marine sports watch has a 43mm diameter case, luminous indicators and features an embossed logo on the second hand and back. The dial has a raised logo and the rotor through the sapphire glass on the case back also carries the logo.

“This Swiss-made automatic marine sport watch is a distinctive statement piece in style and manufacturing. It is a wonderful way to arrive into the watch market and a great way to make an entrance,” Mr Singh said. He pointed out that the Ocean Lion, Sea Tiger and Singh watches are rare and made only in limited quantities. “When you combine the heritage, the story behind each model and the rarity of the watch, it becomes an extremelyvaluable piece,” he said.

Mr Singh said he was surprised at how well the brand had performed to date. “I came up with the Khalsa 1699 Watches concept at the end of 2019 and launched the brand in 2020, during a pandemic. We went full swing and worked hard.

In one year we sold over 15,000 watches. From November last year, sales really took off.” The collection has a wide appeal. “Buyers see our watches are beautiful and they want them.

Many don’t care about the historical origins of the brand. The design and quality appeal to everybody. They carry a great universal charm that meets everybody’s taste effortlessly,” Mr Singh said.

Women’s styles in the Khalsa 1699 range such as Heritage, Kaur and Divine have all been well received. The elegant and feminine Kaur series includes the stunning Crystal Kaur, a rose gold plated alloy watch that features a white dial encrusted with dozens of genuine Swarovski crystals.

A Khanda features on the watch face while another is stamped into the crown. Online platform, House of Khalsa, lists all styles and prices in the Khalsa 1699 Watches collection accompanied by detailed images and specifications. Presently the brand is carried by 11 stockists globally.

In 2022, the brand will release a smart watch and introduce its first 18 KT gold watches on to the market. A pilot’s watch and a Swiss ladies watch are also under development. “Our aim is to bring excellence to the Khalsa 1699 Watches brand. We are a lot more than just watches. We are creating watches that are collectable and can be passed on as heirlooms. They are inspired by history with undeniable roots of deep cultural magnificence and martial heritage. We feel that we have been very blessed,” Mr Singh said.

Those interested in becoming authorised dealers of Khalsa 1699 Watches can contact Mr Singh through the House of Khalsa website. The House of Khalsa also has an accessory offer with a parfum to be added next year to its recently launched sunglasses range.

Visit the website HERE.

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