Zen and the art of watch maintenance.
My Tag Heuer watch recently ran out of electrons and after a bit of a bothersome run around to get it back up to advertised specs (includeds getting played for a chump in a con where a fool and his money were soon parted.. oooo!!!, that still smarts and the better business bureau will hear of it) I have this anecdotal tale of wisdom to part to you, dear reader.
Summary: watch stopped, owner (that’s me) went down to “reputable” service place, service tech looked it over, diagnosed an ailing battery and expertly advised the whole 9 yards service spiel. Owner agreed, watch and owner exchanged goodbyes with the promise of an “as new” timepiece upon return a couple of days later. A couple of days later come around, a phone call announces all is well and in 30 mins im at the door with a smile on my face. Sounds all good, right? Service tech comes out and says, you know what.. bit of bad luck, your watch stopped. WTF! Heyyyy.. that’s not how its supposed to turn out.
Service tech is very sympathetic, says he feels bad.. but shit happens. Offers a discount and competitively prices a “service” on the movt to clear up an “obviously” gummed up mechanism as the crystal (the quartz bit that provides the pulse) is still working okay according to his letsfuckoversomebody-o-tron gizmo. At which point owner (in case some of you lost me, that’s me) balks.. goes through 15 distinctly different emotions and finally decides to take whats his and leave.
Oh yeah, I did find out that the service tech, web site designer and owner were all the same person. And yes, I was being played for a chump.. and thankfully had the wits about me to up and leave. He did make me pay for the battery and gaskets he supposedly replaced, complete with authentic certificates. And his voice went up half an octave every time I inched closer to deciding that I didn’t want his generous discounted service offer. Fuckwit didn’t think I would walk. A bleak day it was… still smarts.
Come think of it.. it in fact was a bleak day, it was raining and cold.
Several lessons to be learnt here folks. Reputation from peers is not always what it seems to be and although im sure those who have dealt with this individual and his business have come off thinking they have their go to “man” with regards to Swiss timepieces ect, don’t have the foggiest idea as to how they are getting ripped off. His service is undoubtedly good, just not reasonably priced and devoid of any sort of ethical practice. Hes the sort of chap who “takes care” of you. I have no doubt in my mind that after the movt was “serviced”, my tag would have been ticking for the next 5 years. It is also true that the people who deal with him also have no idea what “quartz” is, and a service of a watch cant be much different from servicing lets say, your car.. its just not something you do yourself, and let your “guy” deal with it. Its about loyalty after all and its not like hes going to lie to you….. right? Mr. so and so would have certainly told me that about him. No, no, I’ve known him for 12 years and 8 watches now, go see him, tell him I sent you.. he’ll see you right. Hah!
As it turns out, my Tag timepiece uses the ETA trendline F06.111 movement. (the mechanism in the watch, the gidget with the imps in it that turn the cogs and little wheelies)
ETA is a swiss movement company that supplies movements to all the major watch manufacturers, Rolex included.
On a side note. Rolex by the way was started by two British brothers based out of a London jewelers who used to put some swiss movts in to their own cases and peddle them locally. They got famous enough that they started to distribute it to other local jewelers. Soon enough, to avoid some taxes ect, they set up a front office in Switzerland under the name of Rolex as at the time one brother “supposedly” drove a Rolls Royce and Timex was rather big. Eventually they moved their entire operation to Switzerland. So, the epitome of swiss watch making and the world wide renown of the Rolex brand was started by two brits and tax evasion. Hah! Err.. you can look that up btw, wiki has a fascinating article on it. of course that’s all history and the Rolex brand matured into a what it is today. I just find it amusing.
Now, where were we, oh yeah. A simple google search yielded this little ditty:
The cost of the ETA Trendline F06.111 quartz movt (similar in most entry level tags), costs at retail 17usd. (yes, you read that right. 17usd)
That means its much less for manufacturers who buy wholesale.. ha ha!! Sheesh.
Price from a parts supplier. (for 3rd party service) http://www.ofrei.com/page552.html. You can actually buy a swiss watch kit and build it yourself.
(i actually found it as cheap as 14 bucks at a another site.. all on the first page of a google search)
Trendline catalog from ETA. http://www.eta.ch/d/produkte/trendline/01012007_trendline.pdf
3 jewels is better than no jewels I suppose.
Got to love the marketing glib on the first page – “economical movements for mass produced watches”. Hah!
I don’t know who draws up the measure of what an economical timepiece is, somehow I’ve been led to believe Tags don’t fall into that category.
Granted theres design, casework, assembly, advertising, gold enemas for their “ambassadors” and importers that add to the retail price but honestly most entry level steel tags cant cost more than 30 bucks to build. Talk about a 1000% markup hey!! Also, what were Tag thinking using a “Trendline” movement, which I can only assume is to be used in some trendy type of watch, in a decidedly “Sporty”, Adeventures, He-Man, I have fought sea monsters at 200 feet at the edge of the world watch. Oh come on… they could have done better than that. To at least make me feel good? Imagine all those who wear their timepieces to reflect their hidden inner personalities at board rooms and power lunches around the globe. Yeh, yeah, look at me, I have the potential.. you will never know where I was last week, yeah.. but see my he-man divers watch.. yeah, you keep guessing baby. Does that make me one of them.. probably I guess. I have never been deeper than 3 meters/10feet, probably never will go any deeper. But sure does feel good to know that my watch can. The thinking behind this is that if you have something that’s over engineered, then the simple life you throw at it is not going to even offend its temperament much less raise an eyebrow. Mores got to be better right? That’s my simple minded way of thinking anyway.. plus I do think of my self as a bit of an adventurer. I mean, I do like my holidays.
Which kinda makes me wonder how much does it cost to build a 100usd Seiko then?
Which brings me to another point – if there some shmuck jeweler/watchmaker that wants to “repair” the quartz movt in your tag, oris, omega, tissot what have you, tell him to go stick his head up/down a poop shoot. They are only replaced by service tech of the authorized manufacturers. For less than 17 bucks for a new movt, why wouldn’t they? Only vintage or complicated mechanical movts are “serviced”.
The tag website has a public price list, it’s a set price for any service including replacement of any of the major bits.
Yeah, replacement of all gaskets, pins, pressure testing, ultrasonic cleaning of case+bracelet and replacing the freaking MOVT of an entry level quartz tag will run you usd145. (complete overhaul, and this includes tax and 2nd day return insured shipping – that itself will run about 25 bucks or so), and of course you get to keep and cherish all the scratches, dings and dents accumulated over the years as mementoes. Heck, I know I would.
Now, this doesn’t only apply to a watch, this applies to just about anything there is. The first lesson I probably need to learn is to learn a lesson. You know, once bitten.. that old thing.
It does sort of create a sore spot within me somewhere.. its like when you were first told that santa clause didn’t exist or the moon wasn’t really made out of cheese. There were some things ingrained in due course of our lives that you (and I mean me…) always thought you could take stock in. You could believe when you graduated to that, there was no need to look elsewhere, you were done, walkaway. A job, a wife, a life, a home, friendships, cars, wealth, health… even something as simple as a watch. There are no cornerstones or foundations that we may have been led to believe in. No true yardsticks apart from the ones we choose to believe in. Its all a matter of when “realization” and “dawn” meet up for a cuppa at starbucks and then you need to have a bit of a sit down and think things through. We make of it what we will. Of course, its something we all already know to be true.. nothing ever is what it seems.. still when I had to confront it, it stung just a little. And im sure it will happen again when ever I face other similar “santa claus” situations. At this juncture of our lives dear reader, look around you and even at yourselves, not everything tends to turn out or end up as it should be. I should not be let down by my he man watch running a trendy wimpy little movt. It should have had the “pitted against the Balrog, you shall not pass!! Fire and flames movt” that an adventurers timepiece deserves. That’s what the box said. Which is of course small beans compared to “my wifes slightly bad left tit should not putting her in the ground” and “5 star safety rated automobile takes life of 19 year old passenger when pitted against embankment”. Insult is later added to injury when “another 5 star safety rated car wipes out the rest of family except father of aforementioned 19 year old” – that’s a true story to boot.
Its rather amusing to think of life as a marketing spiel. They have a lot in common I think.
It’s a gyro tourbillion next for me whenever I can afford one. Heck, at least I know how hard it was for the guy who fabricated it even though it doesn’t actually do anything, its nice to look at though.
Lesson learnt?… I think so.