Thursday, April 14, 2005

A Personal Recommendation

One of the issues that watch owners eventually have to deal with concerns servicing our beloved timepieces. I often wonder if the many folks who either purchase or were given nice watches realize that, like any type of engine powered machine, they need regular maintenance. In particular, if anyone has ever recently gone through the process of getting a mechanical/automatic watch serviced, you already know that it can be an expensive proposition. Furthermore, and really more importantly, the jeweler must be skillful. "Good Enough" when fixing/servicing a watch is never good enough-it has to be right on the money every time or why wear it? With this in mind, I'd like to relate an experience I just had with my jeweler. I recently purchased the Pobeda that you see posted above. It was a very inexpensive old watch, (yes I collect vintage watches too-they are some of the best buys out there), and ran me all of nine dollars. Needless to say, I wasn't expecting miracles when it came to performance or accuracy and I wasn't surprised by what I wound up with. Put simply, the watch was unusably inaccurate to the tune of being fast by over ten minutes a day.

I was originally thinking about using the watch as a test mule to hone my own watch repair skills when I decided to let my jeweler take a shot at regulating this old beast. I figured that he would just laugh and tell me to forget about it. To make a long story short Rafayel of Watch Station, the jeweler in question, not only regulated the Pobeda to less than 15 seconds deviation a day but also did it as a favor to me for all of the business I have given him. That kind of service is something I rarely encounter these days. (To properly appreciate what Rafayel did, the Pobeda movement in this watch is officially rated by its manufacturer as being accurate to only about a minute or so a day: really nothing to write home about at all) Watch Station has serviced several other watches for me, from minor adjustments to a full rebuild of an ETA powered Swiss automatic, and always without a hitch and at very reasonable prices. To put it simply, if you live in the New York City area and need a watch fixed correctly and affordably, go see Rafayel at Watch Station. He can be found in the Third Avenue entrance to the Lexington Avenue/53rd Street Station on the Concourse Level (one flight of stairs down between the street and the trains themselves-thus the name "Watch Station") His store is located inside the magazine kiosk next to the shoemaker's store. Don't let the humbleness of the store fool you, this guy really knows what he is doing, unlike some other jewelers whose names I will not mention. Watch Station's address is 873 3rd Avenue, Concourse Level, NYC, 10022 and can be reached at 212-421-2749. Say that Ed with the Pobeda recommended him.


Anonymous Thomas Dineen said...


Finding a skilled watch repair person is indeed challenging these days. Those interested in good quality--but not
necessarily "luxury"--mechanical watches are often caught between the world of quartz watches (which require minimal attention) and that of high-end mechanical watches (which may require expensive attention). In the days before I knew how to judge the relative quality of mechanical watches--and generally avoid overpriced brands--I thought nothing of dropping hundreds for a minor repair or cleaning.

My first good watch was a used Rolex Submariner from 1972, which I bought in 1989 for $1,000. Several years later, I dropped over $500 to have it serviced by a Rolex-certified technician in Washington, DC. There wasn't anything wrong with the watch, and I now don't think I needed to spend nearly that much, if anything. I spent a similar amount having a vintage Vacheron Constanin cleaned at VC's very own little boutique in NYC (talk about overhead). That expense may have been justified considering the age and fineness of the watch, however.

Since moving to Baltimore and beginning to collect high-quality but reasonably priced watches (Mido, Invicta, Zodiac, Aeromatic), I found an excellent repair person at Radcliffe Jewelers in Towson, MD (not far from downtown Baltimore). His name is Jacov, and he has repaired several somewhat serious problems with my watches for $30-$90. For instance, my half-regulateur Aeromatic with a jumping hour was malfunctioning, and Jacov fixed it quickly for about $50.

I recommend Jacov to watch enthusiasts in the Baltimore area...and anyone in DC willing to make a trip north for competent repairs that aren't overpriced:

Radcliffe Jewelers
Towson Town Center (Towson Mall)
Suite 196
Towson, MD 21204
Phone: 410-321-6590

4:36 PM  
Blogger Ed said...

Pleasure to find a good repairer isn't it. I have had some bad experiences with others. Sounds like you found a good one.

4:53 PM  
Anonymous Ho said...

I strongly agree with you. I had a bad experience before. I purchased a Zeno watch about a year ago and I realised that on the underside of the crystal lies an"dried oil stain". You cant see it clearly under normal light condition but if u tilted it a bit or shine a light to it, there it is, the crystal is not really clean. I have similar problems with other watches too which leave me to wonder, it this swiss made quality? Are the watch maker skillful? Is the problems lies with the oiling? Or Singapore is too hot and humid for such oiling?

Anyway I decided to send it back to AUTHORISED AGENT to have it clean. It should be simple enough, open up the case and clean the crystal.

However I was really disappointed when I get back the watch. Yes the oil stain has been cleared, but the bracelet was now dented at the side near the pin. The watch dial was not placed properly leaving a metal hitting 'tink' sound when you wear the watch.

Too bad I signed the paper without checking it properly before I collect the watch. The question here is, I did the right move sending the watch back to an authorised agent for servicing, but the watch maker was not good enough. Now I know, the important thing is not whether the company is authorised by the manufacturer, but rather it is the skill/responsibility of the repairman.

Now I seconded my thoughts before I sent my watch to an authorised service centre.

2:21 AM  

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