Friday, April 27, 2012

Save The Time on

More press this week as specialist Watch blog Watch Pro writes about Save the Time's current progress.
A big thank you to Kathryn Bishop and the Watch Pro team for helping to spread the word!
Read the article here.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Save The Time Gets Press!!

The Save the Time campaign was featured on the online edition of Jeweller Magazine this week! This is great exposure for Save The Time and we’re thankful to Editor Coleby Nicholson and the rest of his team for their support!

Read the article here.

Monday, April 23, 2012

To Buy Art or To Buy a Chicken Foot?

A couple years ago I decided to ‘get into Australian art’.
In this case, 'getting into it' meant acquiring anything I 
could get my hands on for $2,000 or less.
Yes it was a mid-life crisis venture into world of art, 
perhaps you’ve have had one too?

Now, even if you are not into art, you would imagine 
that my budget was barely enough to buy a decent frame,
let alone a charcoal by Dickerson.
But as they say, the fun is in education, 
not in acquisition, so I had nothing to lose.

I did my research: If I was to invest in a piece of Australian art, 
I wanted it to be a Blackman.
The innocence and naivety of an Alice in Wonderland opus 
- all those vibrant colours, surreal characters and seriously comic scenes 
was exactly what I was looking for.

Finding a dealer willing to ‘talk Blackman’ was easy.
Despite clearly indicating my modest budget, 

I was greeted like a Russian tycoon.
"Three to four hundred thousand will buy you a really nice Rabbit",
said the enthusiastic dealer,
"Which is really just a short change of what a large Blackman would fetch on today's market". The level of enthusiasm dropped significantly after he learned that I also deal for a living:
"Watches? Hmm... Do people still buy watches?"

Fifteen minutes later, we finally started talking business 
- a sixth limited edition signed print for just $8,500 
was the bare minimum he would allow me to have. 
When he realized that I wouldn't budge a cent more than $2K 
the monologue turned into an outburst of theatrical energy:
"You cannot get a Blackman for $2K! There is no such thing as cheap art. 
You have unrealistic expectation and quite frankly you are just wasting my time!"

He then disappeared behind the pile of prints, unframed canvases and boxes full of something that even my untrained eye could recognize as art.
"Here you go, you stubborn man”, he puffed and fumed, 

“the best I can do for you is this,
and I won't take a cent less than $2,500 for it”.

This was a drawing of a foot, the size of large postage stamp.
A black ink drawing depicting a foot of a chicken or a duck.
There was no colour, no action, no composition, no Alice and no Wonderland -
just a wiggly line. 
But yes, this was a Blackman, and yes, even owning a drawing of
a chicken or duck foot would still make me a connoisseur of Australian Art.

Funnily enough, some watch manufacturers are just like famous artists.

They are more than happy to put their name onto anything that tells the time,
and charge accordingly, of course. An ‘entry level top end brand maker's watch’ could be in reality just an ordinarily time piece in a paper-thin case.
When you are buying a Blackman chicken's foot, 

you are told that this is the way to enter into brand 
and perhaps, if you work really hard and save even harder, 
then maybe one day you may be able to own the brands ‘master piece’ 
- a calendar and power reserve model which is reserved for 'clients' only. Impressive indeed.

And this is precisely why I love
A. Lange & Söhne.

With Lange there is no such thing as ‘entry level’ 

because each and every model manufactured is a real and complete masterpiece, regardless of mechanical complication.

Even a 'time only' Lange is as exciting as a 3m wide Alice in Wonderland 
- a firework of colours, action and intriguing beauty. 
Each Lange is an example of perfection in watchmaking artistry,
offering the highest level of unity between design, mechanical micro engineering and quality
you can see, touch, feel and hear.

Yes, life is too short for chicken foot.

Monday, April 16, 2012


The ‘series of unfortunate events’ that have occurred over the past couple of weeks turned out to be of great benefit and, for me, it was a rare opportunity to step out of ‘business as usual’.

The phone has been running off the hook (and the fax too!). It was so nice to talk to fellow watchmakers from almost every corner of Australia. Support from New Zealand however was both totally overwhelming and unexpected; once again it has shown that our Kiwi colleagues are facing the same problems. We also received a tremendous amount of email support from the US, Canada, Europe and even few Asian countries. 

“You don’t know me, but I just want to say that I completely agree (with your campaign) and want to support Save The Time.” Was the opening line to just one of the telephone conversations I received last week. Although the caller and I have never met, it seemed we both shared so so much in common. 

“It is good to see that someone out there actually does care about us” was another common comment.  Yes, someone does care about you – a bunch of us- a bunch of your fellow watchmakers and many more watch enthusiasts, collectors and watch owners!

Yes, there are a number of people and organisations out there who couldn’t care less if you quietly packed your tools, cleaned your work bench and closed the ‘last watch repair shop’ in town, never again to train an apprentice. Despite years behind the bench, they tell you that you are incompetent to repair even the simplest ‘brand name’ quartz movement. That you, as an independent watch repairer, are too old to be trained, that your work shop is ‘not up to standard’ and that you no longer belong to the world of modern watchmaking. They have  rendered you basically useless.

Fellow watchmakers: don’t waste even a minute of your precious time listening to such nonsense!

If you call yourself a watchmaker and make honest living repairing watches, then you are nothing but an asset to the watch industry! 
You are an asset to your family, your customers and your country – no matter where you are.

And we do care about you.

Every day, I receive a number of phone calls and emails form watch owners who are looking for a local independent watchmaker. “Can you recommend someone in Melbourne who can overhaul my vintage watch? I am calling from Adelaide – there is only one shop here and they are not really proper watchmakers – can you help?  I need an urgent battery replacement, Easter suburbs, the “brand name” service takes 5 weeks and I am in a hurry”. Another similar email just arrived in my inbox as I’m typing: “I have a replacement crown, I just need a watchmaker to install it and take the case back off my watch so I can photograph the movement”. Yes, maybe a small job, and maybe not what you have been trained to do but nevertheless a priceless service that no one else can offer – but YOU!

There is plenty of work out there, but most of us are too slow to embrace new ways of doing business. The time for change is long overdue and that change must start from us, from within the trade. is here for you, and we want to help you to attract new customers and grow your business.
We believe that talk is cheap. Here is what we can do for you right now, FREE of charge:

   We are compiling a WATCHMAKER DIRECTORY: a listing of independent watch repairers both in Australia and worldwide. This listing is specifically designed to showcase your repair business. When you send an email to register you will receive a FREE listing showing your contact details, email address and a brief description of what you can offer your customers. The listing will have a photo of your shop and a FREE link to your website! 

-   To register, fill-in the form in PDF or .DOC format by clicking these links and email it to

Remember there are hundreds and maybe even thousands of customers looking for you right now, but to them you may be invisible.
You are not only invisible to customers, but to watch spare parts suppliers! For that reason, we have created a SUPPLIERS DIRECTORY.
There are number of suppliers who, like you, are struggling to sell their product and who desperately need your business. You must start placing orders with those suppliers. Just because you cannot source parts for some brand name watches doesn’t mean you can’t offer an alternative solution.

SUPPLIERS: please also take advantage of our listing. We appreciate your support to the industry and we are happy to offer you a FREE listing too. Please fill in the registry form here in .PDF or .DOC format. 

FREE access to thousands of watch enthusiasts to showcase your independent watch business!
We will not sell your email address to our subscribers, we’ll offer you something much better: an opportunity to submit your watch related articles.
Our subscribers are hungry for quality content! Writing an article for a mailing list or blog is actually much easier than you think. We are looking for quality content: your expert’s story, opinion, advice, tip or explanation about anything watch related! 
Quite frankly, true watch enthusiasts are fed up with ‘brand name’ propaganda from glossy magazines, so called watch forums infested with anonymous trolls and so-called watch experts who have never actually seen the watch movement or who don’t have a clue what a balance staff is! If there’s one area where we can beat big brand names hands down, then it’s with the fact that we have countless years of real ‘behind the bench’ experience working on everything from Poljot to Patek, from regulators to complex repeaters.
You can no longer wait for someone else out there to change your destiny. There is no alternative:  we will either start doing things ‘properly’ or we will disappear like Tassie tigers.
Finally, a little personal gift to you, just to cheer you up and to once again show you that we do care about you: the most talked about Save The Time T-shirt: is giving YOU a FREE t-shirt!
Wear it with pride or frame it and display it in your shop as a symbol of your determination to fight for YOUR business.

Yes, in a few days we will have 100 shirts to give away.
50 shirts will be allocated to watchmakers and watch suppliers who register for either the Save The Time watchmaker or suppler directory.

An additional 50 shirts will be given away to the first 50
newsletter subscribers to email us back.

Simply fill-in the form here in .PDF or .DOC format and request “I want that super cool shirt right now”.


We do understand that some of our subscribers would prefer to receive a Save The Time t-shirt the old-fashioned way, by placing an order. While we are not really in the business of selling t-shirts, a limited quantity of 20 shirts will be available for those who wish to support the Save The Time project . If this is you then please fill in the second part of the form and tell us what the coolest watch shirt is worth to you.

Regardless of the way you intend to claim the shirt - as a supplier, watchmaker, subscriber, or buyer – please make sure to let us know your SHIRT SIZE!

All shirts are made by Fruit of the Loom using 100% cotton and are available in black. 

This shirt is a symbol of people working together for a common benefit.

*** New arrivals: April 16, 2012.

       Again, my apology to hard-core subscribers who are desperately awaiting new watch arrivals: please bear with us just a few days longer! We have a nice pile of goodies waiting to be listed: a stunning  Lange 233.026 18K WG, Omega Speedmaster Missions 3597.03 Gemini V 1965 mission patch, an Omega black /white gold bezel Seamaster XL size, a Breitling Navitimer, Breitling Navitimer twin 36, Breitling Superocean black chrono, 3x Omega Speedmasters , a Panerai Submersible, Panerai Radiomir and Panerai PAM005 logo (brand new condition), an Omega Railmaster XXL, a lovely Rolex President double quick set 18K YG, and a Heuer Monaco limited edition – plus a few more!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Stolen Watches

Newsletter archive | 11th April 2012 
Mail from one of my subscribers: 
Hi Nick, I am a customer and have purchased a couple of cheaper 
watches from you and appreciated the value and the service.

Can you tell me how dealers  protect yourself and customers from the 

reselling of stolen watches?

I ask because over Easter thieves entered my home and stole my prized 

IWC Portuguese Chrono Rose Gold watch...I am devastated to know that 
this beautiful watch will be in a dealers or pawn shop or even worse 
on E-Bay shortly and a buyer will take the sellers word that it's 
their property...



Hi David,
Sorry to hear about your loss.
If the watch ends up with honest second hand dealer then this would be your best chance for recovery.

All second hand dealers are required to submit watch serial numbers and sellers details to the police within 24 hours. The Police will then keep details on file and match the watch details with their database of stolen watches.
When a dealer buys a watch from a member of the public, it is considered to be at the dealer's own risk, and this system works well. Plus a dealer would never buy a watch from someone who refuses to disclose his details and sign a declaration of ownership.

Unfortunately most stolen watches are 'exported' overseas
or sold online. Private buyers and sellers are not required to
report or register deals to police.
However, dealing in stolen goods is a criminal offense, even when
the purchase is made 'in good faith'.
In your particular case: you should contact the police as soon as possible,
in writing, and provide watch details -
full description, any unique properties and serial / model reference numbers.
Here are couple of tips
- Always keep all the receipts
- Have the watch valued for insurance purpose
- Have the watch insured
- Store it in a safe place.
- Be smart! Don't leave the watch unattended or on sight; even if you are     leaving the house for just short period of time.
In the case of burglary, the first things that will be stolen are watches, jewellery and cash.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

The Tassie Tiger: An Animal Like No Other

*** Plenty of kangaroos and wombats - but no tigers! 

The Tasmanian tiger is one of the most fabled animals in the world.
Yet, despite its fame, it is one of the least understood.
European settlers were puzzled by it, feared it and killed it when they could.
But things went from bad to worse when Tasmanian Government encouraged sheep farmers to hunt and kill.
By 1910, this beautiful animal had been pushed to the brink of extinction.

The tiger was shy and secretive and always avoided contact with humans.
Despite being called a tiger it had a quiet temperament.
Captured animals generally gave up without a struggle and many died suddenly, from shock.
On September 7th 1936 the last captured tiger died alone, in a dirty cage of Hobart zoo.
Yes, the Tassie tiger was an animal like no other.
Recently I attended a children’s birthday party. Chatting, hopping from topic to topic,
the discussion got heated when someone asked "if you could go back in time, where would you go?"
She was 5 or maybe 6. In her proudest voice, she stopped the crowd:
"I would go and save Tasmanian tiger. I would smash his cage,
hug him, take him home, call him Ricky and he will be my best friend forever".
Yes, true activists are born, not bred!
Sometimes being close to the issue can be counter-productive.
And what seems right to me may not necessarily seem right to you.
The decision to call a few of my colleagues and discuss common trade issues was
not high on my priority list. Watchmakers are busy people and, like Tassie tigers,
generally shy and secretive.
Yet to get a clearer picture and perhaps a more objective one, I had no
choice but to pick up the phone and let them talk.
Interview time was limited to 5 minutes.

CARL PARKER, master watchmaker, Sydney.

Mr. Parker, as a typical independent watchmaker… Well, I don’t really think I’m typical. But independent Australian watchmaker, definitely yes.
Would you describe yourself as a professional watchmaker? Yes, I’ve been an instructor for the Swiss watch industry for 20 years.
And how long have you been in the watch repair business? Since 1972 (40 years).
And what is the core nature of your business? We repair high grade wrist watches, clocks, music boxes and barometers.
So you would have no problem repairing a mechanical watch like, for example, a Rolex Datejust? No, not at all.
But do you have access to Rolex spare parts? No.
Can you get parts for Cartier? No.
How about Breitling? No.
How many apprentices have you trained in the last 10 years?


And how many of those that you’ve trained are practicing trade as independent watchmakers in Australia? One.
Carl, thank you for taking time to answer these questions.

THOMAS CZIBIULA, master watchmaker, Sydney 
Mr. Czibula, as many of our subscribers know, you run an independent watch repair business in Sydney CBD. Yes, I’ve been repairing watches for 37 years now.
So you are a professional watchmaker? Yes. I’m a European-trained master watchmaker specialising in mechanical watches. I offer repair service to both individual customers and companies.
Based on your experience and skills would you be able to overhaul an automatic wrist watch like Rolex Datejust? Yes, of course.
Do you have access to Rolex spare parts or an account with Rolex Australia?
Can you get spare parts from Cartier/Richemont group? No.
How about Breitling?
How many apprentices have you trained in the last 10 years?

Officially, none. Unofficially one, my son.
How many of those that you’ve trained are practicing trade as independent watchmakers in Australia?
Unfortunately none.

JOAL SANTOS, master watchmaker, Sydney.
Mr. Santos, thank you for taking time to answer a couple of questions for our readers. Can you tell us a bit about yourself? I started my watch repair career in Europe. I was trained by Swiss Ebauch Group.
So you consider yourself to be a professional watchmaker? Yes. I’ve been working with watches for 40 years. I started my apprenticeship at the age of 12.
What kind of repairs do you do? I repair high-grade watches.
So you have no problem repairing a mechanical watch, a Rolex Datejust, for example? No, not at all. I would consider this a simple repair job.
But do you have access to Rolex spare parts?  
No. My account with Rolex was closed in 2005. 
Can you get spare parts from Cartier/Richemont group? No.
How about Breitling? No.
How many apprentices have you trained in the last 10 years?  
And how many of those that you’ve trained are practicing trade as independent watchmakers in Australia?  

MAX SCHWEIZER, master watchmaker, Sydney.
Mr. Schweizer is one of the most reputable and well respected watchmakers not only amongst watch enthusiasts but also within the watch trade itself. I have to admit I did not feel comfortable asking Max for interview. As a native Swiss and long-time authorized Rolex serviceman, I thought he would have no interest in answering questions which could put him in compromising position. Nevertheless, I made a phone call to his workshop early morning.
Mr. Schweizer, would you describe yourself as a professional watchmaker?  
How long have you been in the watch servicing business?  
Hmm, I need to do some math’s for that one…Since 1965, 47 years! I was born in Switzerland and trained as a watchmaker with Eterna. I was then sent to train watchmakers in Nairobi, Africa. In 1975 I got a new job as a Rolex instructor in Cairo. After arriving in Australia I started my independent watch repair business.
Repairing high grade Swiss watches?  
Would you consider the repair on a watch, such as a Rolex Datejust, a straightforward job?
Yes, of course.
So, you probably have access to Rolex spare parts, right?  
Actually no, I don't. My account with Rolex Australia was closed at the end of March 2012.
Six months ago I received a letter from Rolex informing me that my account was to be closed. 
This is shocking news. What was your reaction?

Unfortunately it is true. My wife and I spent the best years of our life working for the brand. We were loyal to Rolex. We are still in a state of disbelief. Until we received the letter, the thought never crossed our mind that this would happen. With just one year before retirement, it is difficult to find rational explanation for such a decision.
At this point of the interview, I felt it unsuitable to proceed further as the closure of Max Schweizer’s Rolex account has evidently caused him much distress. However I thought it necessary to inquire about the other brands: 
Can you get spare parts from Cartier/Richemont group?


How about Breitling?

How many apprentices have you trained in the last 10 years?

How many of those that you’ve trained are practicing trade as independent watchmakers in Australia?

Only one is currently working independently in the watch trade.  
I guess the true reason for not wanting to talk to watchmakers was not
lack of time, but predictability of answers.

Let me state the obvious: independent watchmakers are true asset to any
society. They possess skills acquired over many decades of complex
restorations and repairs. They work on high-grade watches, both new (if they can get spare parts!)
and vintage. They also restore and repair fine and unusual timepieces
like vintage pocket watches, music boxes, complex clock mechanisms, barometers.

They are shy tigers.

Brand name watchmakers who specialize in single brand and single caliber watches,
who were trained 'in house', are far less versatile and offer a more limited service.
They have no contact with the general public. They are not
trained to teach other watchmakers and pass their knowledge onto the next generation.

There are many millions of lesser known brand watches out there -awaiting restoration-
that are absolutely of no interest to 'authorized brand name' service centers.
Actually, as some of you know, often, even brand name watches are rendered
beyond repair after certain age.
What you may regard as a priceless family heirloom, a brand name Swiss repair centre
may regard as worthless junk.

Once the last ‘tiger’ is captured and starved to death,
watch collectors and the general public will notice the difference.
By then it will be too late.

I have not the slightest doubt that one day science will advance
so far that the Tasmanian tiger will be 'recreated' from a remnant of DNA.

Unfortunately, even then, recreating a master watchmaker from DNA would be still impossible!


Don't wait untill it's too late - do the right thing: 


Monday, April 2, 2012

So How Was Your Day?

Newsletter archive | 2nd April 2012

He runs a small watch repair shop located inside the smallest mall of the smallest country town, north of Bundaberg. He gets home late because that chiming clock is still missing its last quarter chime and he’s just too tired to watch the footy.

"How was your day?" she asks.

"It was good. Eight Seiko and Casio batteries, three watchbands, and Mrs. Smith collected that pocket watch I finished in October. She was too busy to collect it earlier, but it's all good.
It was a good day of trading."

But he knew perfectly well that the trade was not even close to 'good'. With $217 dollars in the cash register he could barely afford to pay their bills and the rent. The only reason why it was good was because most of the other business were doing far worse after yet another flood, or was it a drought?

The business had not been good for years, actually since the cheap battery operated watches replaced mechanical timepieces. The change of technology meant that his skills were no longer required; cheap battery operated watches were too cheap to service and even cheaper to replace. He tried to 'diversify' into the clock trade, apparently everyone else was doing well in clocks. He invested in a bushing tool, main spring winder and even a second-hand Myford lathe which cost a fortune.
Yet deep down in his heart he knew that fixing clocks was not really what he was trained to do, what he wanted to do.

When clock collecting collapsed in early 1990’s (by then he had repaired all 17 clocks in 75 km radius, including that Church clock which went silent after the War, free of charge of course), he was told that "money is in vintage watches". Apparently everyone was trading on eBay.
But he was not a trader. He did not have the money to invest in stock, was not sure how that eBay thing really worked, and was too honest to sell a broken watch to someone half way around the globe.

"It was a good day" he kept telling her every night.

Of course, some of his friends were doing OK in the watch business. Every now and then one of them would stop by that small shop to show him one of their latest acquisitions: a vintage Rolex, a nice Longines, and then there was that fancy 1980s two-tone Cartier.

"Is it genuine?" The visitor would ask.
"Yes, it is."
"So if I need a battery replacement, can I bring it to you?"
"No, I’m sorry, I can’t replace the battery in a Cartier because I don't have a case seal for it".

But he would love to do be able to do so. A battery replacement for that fancy Swiss watch is something he could easily charge $35 dollars for. A couple of those per week would mean an extra $280 per month, or exactly $3,640 per year  - enough to buy a "new" Ute.

That was all he needed to make a breakthrough - two fancy Swiss watch batteries per week.
And if he could perhaps get a new winding crown or a plexiglass for that vintage Rolex, he could make a small fortune; that would be an easy $450 repair too!

Unfortunately he knew all too well that he would never get access to Swiss spare parts.
He knew the phone call to Richemont will be answered with "Sorry no parts.
We don't sell to independent watchmakers. Actually we don't supply parts to anyone anymore, we do all of our repairs in-house. And please, stop calling us."

No parts. All he needed is a $2 rubber seal so he could seal the case after the battery replacement.
No parts. Not a screw. Not a seal.
No parts.

For some time he kept dreaming; a $2 dollar rubber seal from Cartier could make all the difference for his small business.
A $25 steel crown for that vintage Rolex would mean he could earn a small fortune. With access to Swiss parts he could even take in an apprentice! Maybe he could expand, advertise online?

He was not interested in competing with the Swiss monopolist. All he wanted to do is what he was trained to - make an honest living repairing watches that Rolex had already rendered as "too old to be repaired".
That really would be a good day!

Unfortunately, his services were no longer needed. No parts meant a slow and steady decline for both his business and his pride.
The closure of the last small watch repair shop located inside the smallest mall of the smallest country town, north of Bundaberg, was not even news for the smallest local papers.

So how was your day, Rolex? And how was yours, Richemont? Have you had a good one?

*** FACT:
  • A watch battery replacement is a simple job, yet even the most experienced Australian watchmakers and jewellers are unable to perform it due to the restricted supply of spare parts from Swiss watch brands to independent repairers.
  • Many thousands of high-grade Swiss watches owned by Australian people are no longer repaired in Australia, by Australian tradesman. Instead, those repair jobs are 'outsourced' to Switzerland.
  • Ironically, while many IT and financial sector jobs are being outsourced to developing countries, resulting in lower service costs for the consumer, exactly the opposite is happening with the outsourcing of Swiss brand watch repairs to Switzerland.
  • Outsourcing equates to higher repair costs for the Australian consumer, with no return on capital back into Australia.
---------------------------------------------------- The monopoly on the supply of spare parts for brand-name Swiss watches will mean the death of Australian independent watchmakers.