Thursday, June 30, 2016

The Next Generation

"So how's business Nick?" asked two acquaintances the other day.

"Exciting! I will be training a new apprentice watchmaker as of next week!"


"Oh Nick" - said one, "You’re so naïve. Good luck with that... You will spend countless hours with him but most likely your apprentice will leave you in 6 months taking with him your best customers. That is precisely what happened to me".


"... and the only way to protect your business from loss is to NOT to pass onto him any core knowledge of your trade. That's what I do" said the other.

And both of them were absolutely spot on: that’s precisely what happens when a fool trains a fool.

Hacko family watchmakers have been training apprentices since the 1950s. At the last count, my grandpa and my father trained over 200 watchmakers. Four of them, who were trained in our workshops, are now practicing trade here in Australia: two in Melbourne running their own business, one works for TAG in Sydney and one is in Queensland. Our ex-apprentices, now qualified watchmakers, all run businesses in the US and all over Europe. So I guess we know what we are doing.


Tyler signed up yesterday. He is 23 years young, and has a double degree in Mathematics and Computer science. He has an unquestionable thirst for horology.


No one can be certain if Tyler will stick with us for 3 years and complete his watchmaking training. But if he leaves us prematurely, that will be his loss. We run the most reputable business and we are located in the heart of Sydney: inside of the prestigious Culwulla Chambers. From his workbench he will have an unobstructed view of three Rolex dealers, the Cartier building, the Omega store - and every other top Swiss brand you can think of. We deal in high grade watches – and we legally sell more pre-loved timepieces than any other second hand dealer in Sydney. Our client list is impressive and he would have a rare opportunity to work on anything from Seiko to Patek, from simple time-only movements, to complex repeaters: the variety and complexity of watches we handle is simply amazing.


But even more exciting is the fact that we are the only watchmakers who both design and assemble our own mechanical watch, here in this very workshop.


No other business in Australia could offer such opportunity for learning and creativity. Not to mention that we are extremely excited about manufacturing possibilities with a goal to actually one day make watch components in our own workshop.


In addition, Tyler will work with Josh, the fourth generation to-be watchmaker who at the age of 18 is already well versed in business. Josh just passed a bunch of exams at Sydney Uni, within the faculty of Mechanical Engineering. For both of them in the watchmaking trade, only the sky is their limit. I would be greatly disappointed if Tyler doesn’t top the class at TAFE and becomes the apprentice of the year. If he achieves that goal, then this time next year, he and Josh will be on a plane to Switzerland attending the Watchmaking and Precise Engineering Trade Fair – with all costs paid for by me.


I am not looking for cheap labour but rather a young, capable, smart, hard working apprentice who is enthusiastic about being a part of an Australian watchmaking story. And I am absolutely ready to let the next generation take over all of my customers! When that day comes, I will finally have time to do what I always wanted to do: to learn more about horology.






Friday, June 24, 2016

Dirty Deeds





















We had a very special visitor today in the office to meet with Nick: former AC/DC bassist and the nicest guy ever, Mark Evans. Mark came into the office to collect his 'Mark' rebelde pen and to sign Nick’s personal copy of his autobiography. ‘Dirty Deeds - My life inside and outside of AC/DC’ is the only AC/DC book written by the actual band member. Together Nick and Mark will be working on a very exciting project which you will find out all about in due course. Trust me, it’s worth the wait. 




Thursday, June 23, 2016

Welcome to Raven!

Hello all!

It’s time to introduce myself to the world of watch enthusiasts. My name is Raven, and I’m from a small seaside town in the north of England named Cleethorpes. It’s my second day here at Nicholas Hacko Fine Watches and I’ve been  welcomed into the quaint office with warming arms. Feeling a little foreign to the magic of time keeping surrounding me, I sit with Nick and talk about his life’s work. Yesterday was only day one into the watch business and what better way to be introduced to the industry than to learn all about the “Rolls Royce of polishing stones”. These are the words of Nick. It’s difficult not to share Nick’s excitement when you can plainly see how hard he and his team have worked in order to one day possess these silky-smooth Japanese stones.

Whilst Nick was informing me of their quality, they were compared to when a musician finally purchases that precious new amplifier they’ve always desired. And how Japanese products are always associated with quality and cost. Grades 8,000 & 1,200 these two stones can be used to polish the head of the screws before the blueing process and to sharpen the screwdrivers - ready for a new apprentice to join us soon. These things don’t currently make a great deal of sense to me, yet I can’t help but feel eager to begin my new position here with Nick and his team.

Japanese stones feel fresh, almost as though you wouldn’t want to use them in the fear of spoiling their fine exterior. I’m looking forward to starting a new role here in the office, alongside the new beginning which the King Deluxe & Gold Stone both have ahead of them here too. I’m here to fill the big shoes which Ellie will leave behind - we wish you the best of luck for the future Ellie!
Happy Collecting!
Raven 








Saturday, June 11, 2016

Watchmaker's Apprentice Wanted: Sydney Watches Pty Ltd / rebelde

Watchmaker's Apprentice Wanted

* Hands-on training by third-generation Master Watchmaker
* CAD training
* Prestigious Culwulla Chambers workshop in the middle of Sydney CBD
* Above-industry wages
* In conjunction with Sydney TAFE Diploma - 3 years course
* Guaranteed employment for the right candidate
* Opportunity to be part of an Australian watch brand story
* Endless learning opportunity: work on high grade mechanical watches
* Introduction to top Australian watch collectors
* Further career opportunities: Micro-Engineering, Design, overseas studies.

We are SPECIFICALLY looking for young and enthusiastic apprentices to undertake 3 years of Watchmaking study, aged 16-19 years. There is the possibility of accommodation assistance available for an interstate candidate. However we will consider all other applicants, regardless of age.

Send your CV/Resume to nick@clockmaker.com.au






Monday, June 6, 2016

Up and Running

***The second round of interviews is scheduled for Thursday but I think I've already made up my mind.
Yes, I am talking about the first two rebelde apprentices who are to commence their training on July 1.

I am looking for a very certain profile and I think I've found what I am looking for. The first applicant would be perfect in the customer service area - he thrives on 'knowing things' but also on fixing things. 


 The second guy is probably a bit of an introvert, which is one of the core properties of a successful watchmaker. As a team, the two of them would be just perfect.
But the search is still open. I've been around long enough to know that things are not always as they appear to be. Nevertheless, I am very excited about new people joining the rebelde team.


Which propels us into a hive of activity in order to get us ready.


Yesterday we went to see Joao Joe Santos, our colleague and watch tools supplier.
And by us, I mean all of us! We've made it a Sunday affair, all with lunch at the Sultans Table.


I love dealing with Joe. He is the prodigious prototype of an anti-salesman.

Every tool and piece of equipment I wanted to add to my basket was questioned, assessed, taken out (I would put it back), and re-assessed. "Why do you want this particular tool? Are you sure? Wait, I'll have a better one in a few weeks’ time and it will be also cheaper."
You get the idea: Joe is not really interested in taking your cash. He simply loves what he does and he does not care about making profit. Which makes him a true asset to the Australian watchmaking community.


Who can say 'no' to a super-light ball-bearing fitted set of screwdrivers? Or pass on an unbeatable deal of Dumont tweezers? Do I need yet another hand removal tool @ $100? No, so I'll take two. How about this cool screwdriver sharpener? And my goodness, the punch tool for the Rolex rotor axel replacement is back in stock - so that goes in the basket as well.
"So you will let your apprentices use the finest Swiss tweezers?” asks Joe. Probably not, or at least, not for the first week, but they do need to see what is here, to tell the difference between non-magnetic, steel and some space-technology alloy. After all, watchmaking tools are a major part of the fun of being a watchmaker.


We loaded ourselves nicely and left Joe in the pouring rain, but excited about the new project.
Of course, there is a long list of tools on order, with more arriving in the next few weeks.
An automatic Swiss cleaning machine will be delivered by sea freight – a massive piece of equipment I have always wanted yet found no need to buy because the old manual one is still working just fine. A major capital investment, but hey - we need to get ready for rebelde watch servicing and we want to turn our workshop in a modern, well equipped facility, at least as good as major Swiss brands.


The Bergeon set of bezel removing tools was probably one piece of equipment I can live without. $1,250 for a set which will most likely sit unused for many years. But then again, it only takes that one job where you need a specialist tool - a job which will separate us from the rest of the crowd.

So here we are - ready to get back into action. Yes, the availability of spare parts is a major issue, and we don't expect any improvement any time soon. But with two new apprentices, there are still things we can and we should do. For example, we can easily get back into the battery replacement business.
We can offer very competitive prices and extremely fast turnaround times - something you simply don't get in the City. Young apprentices would need the opportunity to learn this relatively simple task and offer valuable service.

Let's be honest: battery replacement is not rocket science.

Many years ago, I was able to replace batteries in any type of watch – except Breitling Emergency Mission (this one requires a certified procedure) and a few obscure plastic-cased digital timepieces which are not really meant to be pulled apart.


So if you wish to keep my soon-to-arrive apprentices busy, then go through your drawers and find those 'dead' watches. Bring them in, mention this newsletter, and we’ll do you a very special deal: five watches/battery replacements for $50. This deal is for common timepieces like Seiko, or Swiss stuff under $1000 value.

Naturally we will charge more for Omega and TAG and similar pieces, and even more for Cartier and other luxury pieces of course, but still significantly less than the authorised service centres. And here is the beauty of this offer: if your watch needs a new seal or winding crown, or any other repair - we will let you know upfront and will quote accordingly. We will give you a CHOICE and this is what independent watchmaking is all about: a choice of who you deal with and choice of how much you will spend on a repair.


Yes, interstate jobs are welcome and we'll throw in free returns via registered shipping on any repair over $100.

Happy collecting,
Nick 


Friday, June 3, 2016

Watch Talk Night Review

***Watch Talk Night: a brave bunch!
 


A special 'thank you' to the ten brave watch enthusiasts who made their way to rebelde headquarters last night.
T
o say that we had fun would be an understatement: it was, once again, one of those evenings when we all talked, listened, learned, exchanged ideas and really, had two hours of good time. Actually, it was well past 8:30pm when one of attendees invited me for a beer. After two and half hours of talks, he was ready for some more! My excuse was that I really don't drink - and he said - neither do I :-) I took this offer as a huge compliment and confirmation that there is a great need for us to get together more often. And yes, we will do more of 'WTN' horology this winter season.

The 'core' of the meeting was this crazy idea of the ‘responsible watch owners test'. After we together reviewed my first 6 lessons on basic horology, I asked the attendees to undertake the test. I have to say that I was bit nervous, and I guess some of the students were nervous too. But they put on their brave face and enthusiastically got into it.
Needless to say, they all passed with glowing colours: anyone who is keen to learn more about watches, time, horology and precision is already a winner.


I cannot speak in their name, but it was obvious that we managed to open that big box called watchmaking, to peek inside and get at least a glimpse of what horology is all about. Tanya and I arrived home at 10pm completely worn out but extremely pleased that we can host nights like this and enjoy the company of like-minded people.

Oh yes - I was really humbled when Aaron presented me with a Russian watch. Thank you mate - I really didn't expect this (nor saw it coming). I've spent a good 10 years repairing Russian watches and to this day I don't really know whether I like them or hate them :-). However Russian watches have their well-deserved place in the world of international horology and we should really talk more about them!




Happy collecting,
Nick