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,

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