This week I took in a vintage Rolex Submariner (5513) for repair. It had that sweet vintage look that collectors love with the yellowed luminous and original hands. I explained to the customer that despite the dial starting to crack slightly in some places I would recommend they keep the dial because (for collectors) it adds value to the watch which would be gone if I were to replace the dial. When I got done working with the customer one of my co-workers asked me if working on an irreplaceable dial like that makes me nervous. The short answer is “yes.”
As I thought about my answer, I came to the conclusion that yes, whenever I work on a vintage piece or a high-end piece where the dial or hands or other component is irreplaceable I do get nervous. This nervousness actually serves to make me a better watchmaker. Because I recognize the risk involved I work more carefully when faced with these situations. I am confident in my skills and when I am fully aware of the risks I use the necessary care to make sure that I don’t make any mistakes. It’s amazing how the “nervousness” actually heightens my skills and keeps me in check.
Most watches have their own special character. Vintage watches have the marks of ages, modern mother of pearl dials are all unique. And even the ones that are not unique can be very expensive should I damage them. A regular Rolex Dial for a gents Datejust retails for $225.00 and with one slip I could lose all the profit from the repair and then some. This profession requires the kind of careful attention and focus that a surgeon applies in his line of work. One moment of inattentiveness can lead to disaster.
As a watchmaker it is important to have the proper skills, training, tools & confidence so you don’t make those disastrous mistakes.
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