HANOI – With three workers, every day Mr. Hung’s shop repairs and maintains up to 5 watches, with prices ranging from 2-20 million, depending on the brand.
Mr. Nguyen Huu Hung, 40 years old, apprenticed to repair watches since the age of 16. This is a profession passed down from his grandfather to his father. Both are famous watchmakers in Hai Duong province.
After graduating from telecommunications in the early 2000s, Mr. Hung experienced many different professions, from technician, marketing staff, customer care… and then decided to return to watches since 2006. .
The shop is located on Nguyen Thai Hoc Street (Ba Dinh District) of Mr. Hung specializing in repairing and maintaining expensive watches. “About 80% of the watches the shop receives for repair cost $10,000 or more,” the boss said.
The most expensive watch he has ever serviced is a Swiss Jaeger-LeCoultre with a case entirely cast in 18k gold and set with diamonds. Its value is about 1.1 million USD (more than 24 billion VND).
“The first time I held a watch with tens of billions of billions, I felt like I had met the beautiful girl I wanted for a long time, but my heart beat and my legs trembled,” Hung said six years ago.
Before carrying out maintenance or repair, the worker must wear gloves to the fingertips to avoid scratching as well as getting sweat on the watch.
The time it takes to complete a Swiss watch maintenance is about 3-4 days, the repair takes longer depending on the damage and complexity of the machine parts. There are cars that have to wait a whole month because there are no replacement parts, they have to be imported from abroad.
The maintenance process usually goes through 10 steps including: Receiving-Appraisal-Advising customers whether the watch needs cleaning oil or not. Next is to disassemble the external parts such as the strap, case, bottom cover of the watch and machine details and then clean. The next step is assembling and oiling. After assembly, the watch is checked and demagnetized to eliminate magnetic fields, making it more stable. The 8th step is to align quickly and then check the water resistance. Finally, the watch is tested for storage and power reserve for 40 hours and beautified before returning to the customer.
Most of the watch repair tools are imported by Mr. Hung from Switzerland, Japan and Germany. A set of 9 basic components such as a detailed meter of the watch, a water tester, a Bergeon Staking tool set for adjusting minor deviations on the watch, Bergeon screwdriver set, set Components holders, tools for mounting components…. To have a complete and standard set of tools, the cost can be up to tens of thousands of USD.
Because of determining the professional direction in the watch service industry, Mr. Hung invested fully in repair tools from the very beginning.
The watch is being serviced for $12,000.
Mr. Hung said, this watch has about 250-300 components including screws, number stakes, needles, hairsprings, pendulums, jewels, screws, gears… Particularly for micro screws, As small as a grain of sugar, there are also 50 pieces with different sizes. Workers must have a good memory, absolute concentration to determine the correct position to reassemble after dismantling.
Because there are microscopic details, when repairing workers must use a magnifying glass. Each operation, the eyes focus on tracking the movement of the pendulum, mainspring, needle… making the concept of time seem to be forgotten.
The risks in the profession are not small. According to Mr. Hung, there are times when workers negligently damage, drop or lose components that cannot be purchased in the country and have to order from abroad, which is both time-consuming and money-consuming.
Therefore, for high-end watches, the craftsman must be highly focused, not allowing even the smallest errors. “If an accident occurs, a lot of money must be compensated, as well as loss of reputation of the worker,” Hung said.
Of the expensive watches that have ever been serviced and repaired, this man was most impressed with the $13,000 Zenith El Primero that completely broke the “Escapement” – one of the most important parts of the watch. mechanical clock, which acts as a brain. The watch teeth are also broken.
Because there are no replacement parts, Mr. Hung has to use white steel and red ruby to replace the broken ceramic material, with a diameter of only a few mm. Meticulously repaired, restored, calculated how to achieve the oscillation frequency of 36,000 vph – these oscillations are used to regulate so that enough energy is transferred to the components when the mechanical movement is operating or counting time. time for the battery to provide accuracy. After half a month the clock came back to life.
“When I heard the ticking sound, I breathed a sigh of relief, feeling an indescribable joy in my heart,” he recalled.
After being repaired, cleaned and cleaned, the watch will be put into Elma water tester by vacuum pressurization method. The principle of operation is to draw out the air in the closed tank to create a pressure difference inside and outside to check whether the watch is open water or not.
The price for repair and maintenance of watches listed at Mr. Hung’s shop ranges from 2 to 20 million, depending on the brand as well as the complexity of the product.
Hung next to the watch has finished maintenance, ready to return customers.
According to this craftsman, it takes 1.5-2 years to learn basic watch repair, while high-end watches take 2-3 times longer depending on the ability of the craftsman. Like removing and opening the watch, it also takes months of practice to be able to do the basics. Therefore, to become a good craftsman must have all the factors such as patience, diligence, hard work, in addition to thinking, creativity and eagerness to learn.
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