John Yonge offers a unique insight into father and son business, Good Timing, which has managed to stay ahead of the times
Good Timing is a real father and son business, where we repair, restore and rebuild watches. I do all the initial appraising and deal with customer calls and the such-like, and my father does the actual repairs.
We repair and service quality clocks and watches and we are able to completely rebuild a treasured timepiece, restore the dial, re-plate a case if it’s badly scratched or corroded, or bring back to life a watch that has possibly been in the sea and rusted.
We get a great many enquiries from people who have been bequeathed a watch from a close relative. They want to use it again to remind them of that person and we take great pride in bringing a treasured watch back to life.
I have lost count of the amount of people who have been so emotionally overcome with joy when they see the finished result of our work that they have actually wept. On one memorable occasion, a big burly lorry driver asked us to restore his late mother’s watch so that he might give it to his wife. When he saw the finished result, he then had to ask for a box of tissues!
Other customers have found a long-lost watch in the back of a drawer and ask us: can we service it? Most watches should be serviced every three to five years. It’s false economy not to service a watch because, just like a car engine, microscopic metal particles will enter the old oil. This creates a “sandpaper effect” as the watch movement revolves and this motion will actually wear the other parts of the watch, with the result that you’ll be faced with a costly repair bill in the future.
My father has been a watchmaker all his life and began his long apprenticeship from the tender age of 15. There’s not much he can’t repair and many other watch dealers beat a path to his door because they have got stuck trying to repair something tricky. Now 80, his life-long passion with watches has never left him. When I ask when he will retire, he just answers that he cannot. “What will my customers do if I tell them I can no longer help them,” he says.
Another thing that frequently happens is when we are handed a bag of watch parts from a customer who tried to repair their own watch. “If you don’t know what you’re doing,” says my father, “don’t even think about repairing your own watch!”
My father is very lucky, he still has all his hair, his eyesight is pin-sharp and his fingers are as nimble as a fine pianist – and when I take him a case of watches to repair, his eyes light up and he can’t wait to get stuck in.