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Why won’t must watchmakers service vintage Timex pieces

January 19 2011 at 2:23 PM
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JerseyMo 
from IP address 12.233.96.228

Just back from a visit to my local watch maker with whom I discussed one of the topics posted here. Why wont must watchmakers service vintage Timex pieces?
In his opinion it has to do with the number of years a watch maker has been in the industry and more important the era in which they were trained.

He is now going into his 45 year of watch making and was trained at the Bulova School in Switzerland in the mid 1960s. Having been trained in this era he is able to bridge the mechanical and electric\electronic timepieces. I can tell you that his work is fantastic and he is always willing to work on any watch or clock. He recently just restored a vintage 8 day long wind for a customer.

BTW Bill D He was very impressed with your article on these watches!

I understand his position as I too was trained back in the late 70s and 80s on coin operated pinball machines. In that time frame the old mechanicals were being phased out by the new electronic models. Both were side by side in arcades and each took a different skill set to repair. Many older mechanics lost their jobs because they could not grasp the new technology. The reverse is now applied in watch making. The new guys do not know enough or care to work on older models.

Another subject we discussed was the state of the watch industry in general and what makers are doing to compete and remain in business. He has noted that makers such as Omega, Longines, and Rolex among others are putting more effort and quality into the higher end models. This is because the low and mid level buyers are simply not buying.
No surprise there as the world economy is undergoing a down and or recovery period.

Ah and if you are wondering if he would take on work? Well yes and no is the answer.

Yes if you are willing to visit his shop, no if you want to work via shipping it to him.

He is old school that way! So, if you are traveling to the Meadowlands anytime soon let me know and we can go have a beer and a few clams on the half shell over at Biggies!


MDC

 
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82.41.210.140

The marketing model

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January 19 2011, 2:36 PM 

for Timex likely still affects the way that most watchmakers look upon the product. The original concept of being able to buy a reliable, and very affordable watch at your local hardware outlet, or filling station, or general store instead of having to go and find a specialist jewellery shop! Whilst this was good for Timex, it probably set up some hackles amongst established watch sellers who saw an erosion in their sales as a result of a product that was sold by non specialist people with little or no knowledge except for the price, and how many were in stock in the cabinet beside the paint tins. happy.gif

And of course, a traditional watchmaker didn't like the idea of a watch that was mass produced and stamped out, like to-day's no frills airlines - does what it says on the tin - at a budget price. I'd suspect many of to-day's oldest watchmakers went through this, BUT passed on their dislike of Timex to trainees who are NOW today's older watchmakers!

e~gards

Mel

Frae Edinburgh, Bonnie Scotland

http://www.timekeepers.me.uk
Affordable and Everyday Watches

http://www.sequencedance-online.co.uk
My other hobby - Sequence Dancing

 
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jerseyMo

12.233.96.228

good point Mel

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January 19 2011, 2:57 PM 

I agree that your summation if very logical. Thier is a snooty atitude towards products that do not have a high price tag. the preception being that price and value go hand in hand, high cost \ high quality, low cost \ low quality.

As collectors we see first hand that is not true when it comes to Timex. Not many products come to mind when you say, low price and will be running for 25 - 50 years and who knows how long!

Competition brings change and change is not always welcomed by the establishment!

MDC

 
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66.11.164.106

Also the economics

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January 19 2011, 4:09 PM 

I imagine that after a bunch of people wasting the watchmaker's time by inquiring about repair costs and then deciding to buy a new watch for less money, watchmakers have just adopted the faster solution by telling people that they won't work on them or that they can't be fixed.

Personally, I would go the opposite route and quote a high figure .. it would take the same amount of time to reply and someone might eventually decide to go ahead.


 
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208.91.164.254

Experiences w/ watches

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January 19 2011, 3:18 PM 

My early experiences with getting jewelers to even look at most of my watches was dismal. My first experience with this was when I was ~10, in trying to get the battery replaced on my beloved Casio digital. I had 2 jewelers refuse to touch it; both told me (straight faced) that the watch would never work again (even with a new battery), and that I should buy a "real" watch from them to replace. I thought to myself, "liars," and headed across the street to Radio Shack. I bought a set of small screwdrivers, pulled the back (in the store) to get the battery number, bought a battery, and finished the repair at home. And, of course, it worked fine.

Ironically, I had much better luck talking with an old guy that worked at K-Mart, regarding my watch collection. He showed me how to replace bands, and would give me spring-bars when I needed them.

I've had a few watches serviced when the economics worked out, but usually it doesn't. Learning to clean / repair them myself is just a practical matter; it's hard to find anyone to work on them, and when you do the work is too costly for these watches to justify.

 
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Bill D

74.89.179.90

Re: Why won’t must watchmakers service vintage Timex pieces

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January 19 2011, 4:12 PM 

I would say this really is a multifaceted problem. First remember Timex did not, and still does not, make their watches to be serviced. Back in the day, and even today, they are made to either replace the watch or at the least, the movement. If you look in the service manuals you will see references to replacement movements which are what we find often in the plastic containers. Today watches that are sent back under warranty are barely looked at and a replacement watch is sent back. I personally have seen boxes full of watches scrapped by Little Rock that have very minor problems and in fact I was given some, did minor fixes and still have them. So it is not just your watchmakers.
Also remember Timex did not endear themselves to the trade from day 1 when they sold through hardware stores, outlet stores and the like.
Another big factor is economics. You would not pay what a master watchmaker would have to charge to work on your Timex because it would far exceed the value of the watch. Think about it. When most of us find a problem that is not a simple fix, what do we do? Find a donor.
My master watch and clockmaker works on wristwatches to tower clocks and certainly has the skills to work on a Timex but he won't be bothered. Likewise for tuning forks and electrics. He has done them but won't bother any longer. So it isn't as simple as abilities. His time is better spent working on Rolexes and the like where customers will pay for his services because the value of the watch is there. Why would you spend say $50 dollars to have a $19.95 watch serviced.

Thanks for the kind comment about the article, Mo. BTW your contest case was mailed today.

Bill D

 
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JerseyMo

12.233.96.228

all good points

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January 19 2011, 4:39 PM 

seems all the have the same conclusion. The fee charges over shadow the watch value.
that is very understandable from the business owners side. Why spend time to analzye an issue that you will never get a return on? And yes, companies scrap goods all the time. We have systems to track scraped music cds to recoup costs and recyle where possible.

so think of it this way, those watch makers who say no are doing us a favor. it forces you to learn. Learning is good and to quote the scouts "be prepared".



MDC

 
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98.111.63.141

Another take

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January 19 2011, 4:29 PM 

You simply cannot treat a Timex movement like a swiss movement, watchmakers pride themselves on precise skills. If you try to assemble a Timex like a swiss watch it will never work, sometimes you might have to bend this or push that..I think they get frustrated trying to service them. When, if the watch is not worn out, they could bath it, lube it and return it to a happy customer for 65 bucks!

 
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12.233.96.228

well!!!!

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January 19 2011, 4:46 PM 

if you give the non - watch collector (poor souls) an option of get watch fixed for 65 bucks or go to timex outlet and get a new one for 19.95 how many go with the 65 buck option?

So, yeah the watch maker like any other small business owner has to put thier effort into work that will pay off. Just try to get an electrican to come to your house to replace a light bulb! just to gas up the van costs 50 bucks or more.



MDC

 
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RonD.

96.245.95.159

Re: well!!!!

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January 19 2011, 8:47 PM 

Many of them don't consider them service-worthy. But if someone is willing to pay to have the watch fixed, there should be folks out there willing to do the service. I think that is where a lot of us come in to mix. We(I) find many types of Timex worthy of being serviced.

Ron

 
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74.105.139.209

Thanks All!

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January 19 2011, 10:24 PM 

The question of are Timex worth reapiring is clear to us but, how much would we each be willing to spend? I can only speak for myself and say no way on average would I spend 65 - 75 bucks to have a Timex serviced. Only the rare occasion could I justify this, say maybe for a Dorado.

thanks all!

 
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Michael Morrill

98.111.63.141

Guilty as charged

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January 20 2011, 7:52 AM 

I have had some watches serviced that indeed probably came to more than they were worth, but to me it was! It costs 50 bucks to fill my VW!! My watchmaker will service some Timex watches, the 400, and the 7 jewel Electrics, but thats it!

 
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