In the beginning…

For the last 5 years, I have been honing my skills and absorbing all that is watchmaking, and over the past several months, I have taken on the task of building my own Watchmaking business. I know that the time is right for the birth of “The Dialed In Watchmaker”. This is an account of my experience thus far, starting my own workshop and watch repair business in an age of viruses and systemic societal disorders.

Photo credit Sam Dauch

With most big projects, I look at the different phases that need to occur. Here’s the sequence thus far.

Phase 1: Name the company, register the biz, and start building social media.

Luckily, I didn’t struggle with the name for too long. I just went with my initial reaction and it felt good. Very much like naming a band, I wanted something colourful yet informative. I then built up a simple blog website and started writing out entries about my watch collection (I’m sure you’ve all read them). This is always fun as we all want to talk about ourselves and the silly things we collect. This gave me some content to populate my social media channels. Now for me, social media is a challenging landscape for a new business. I think it is intended to really connect people, and not necessarily built for self-promotion. It seems to self-regulate and people who don’t use it honestly and with real interest are quickly weeded out or left feeling frustrated that they are not making the type of connections they want (that’s my theory). I’ve been surprised at the fascinating people I’ve encountered and the depth of learning that is available. So on that note, if you don’t follow me, now’s your chance 😉

The next step was the logo and I knew I needed a strong one. For that I recruited my good friend Ryan Bourne to sketch out some ideas. This is the one I loved right away. I thought it was both familiar and humorous and reminded me of the time I made a vinyl clock out of a copy of “Fiddler on the Roof” (it didn’t last long cuz the glue didn’t hold and I didn’t bother to repair it). Now I’m on the hunt for a first pressing of “Kind of Blue” to modify… (kidding of course)

Once the logo was good to go it definitely gave me the confidence boost to really start getting deep into the business development.

Phase 2: Building the workshop.

This is the meat and potatoes, the drum and bass, the Sam and Dave and the cream and sugar. It is hard to continue planning anything until this process has started and the workshop has some form of functionality. Of course this is where the money just drains out. Watchmaking tools can be stupid expensive and so job specific. The list started with the most basic things: Space, desk, cleaning machine and timing machine (check out this video of me putting the desk together). Once I had those things locked down then the rest would eventually fall into place. It’s been a few months and many things have come in the mail and I’m getting more and more inspired to take on any challenge and any watch. I just got a new staking set and I’m stoked! It is the flux capacitor to my Delorean!

The L&R Console cleaning machine. circa 1970 ish. Refurbished and works like a dream
water pressure tester. dunk the closed and sealed case and find if there are any leaks.

Phase 3: Marketing and promotion.

Ech…..I know. Nobody likes to sell themselves. Marketing has always been a double-edged sword for me. At this point, it’s all about perspective. I believe that an honest portrayal of oneself is the foundation upon which to build something successfully. Of course, I’ve been reading lots of dialogue and philosophy on marketing strategies and though it is interesting, I still hope for some kind of natural momentum, though I do understand the importance of key pushes and strategic advertising. So what IS my marketing plan? Good question Howie 🙂 This is the moment I am in right now. So many channels to explore. This is my list so far:

1: Understanding the market here in Vancouver and Canada

2: Build relationships with other like-minded yet different companies and services

3: Provide amazing watch repair!

Photo Credit Sam Dauch

It’s obviously more complex than that, but it’s a start and I feel like it’s going to be interesting and fun. I like the idea of building a community or at least joining one and being active within it.

This has been an absolutely crazy time for most of us. It’s nuts to think how everyone on the planet has been affected in some way or another by COVID19. When’s the last time we were all unified in such a way? I feel that my story is interesting and I know how bold and risky it is to start a business during these times. In no way does this compare to some of the struggles that others are going through right now. I absolutely know how lucky I am and have been throughout all of this.

When the pandemic hit, I was laid off as many of us were because the work was simply not there. At least not in a way that we could understand or deal with at the time. It was shocking and disheartening because nobody knew how this was going to play out (there was no hoarding of watch repair services that is for sure!). We still don’t really understand this new landscape and the best way to navigate, but with challenges can come great discoveries.

I was connecting with some old friends that I hadn’t spoken to in years and every week my wife and her family would gather on Zoom to remind each other that we are all in this together. I do miss human contact and I do look forward to a time when we can all look back on this and breathe a sigh of relief that it’s over.

This new world of being a small business owner is new level of “adulthood”, and it will bring in many new friendships and for that I am excited. There is lots on the horizon and the updates will be plentiful and remarkable. To quote one of my heroes Joe Strummer, “the future is unwritten”. I have started some of my own drafts though, and things are looking very promising.

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