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For those who collect vintage watches in Singapore, Mr. Goh from Goh Seo Choon Watch Shop is the man you need to know. Why? Because he’s able to service your vintage watches including vintage Seiko’s.
His watch shop used to be located in Chinatown Complex but due to renovation, it is now located at a temporary location known as Chinatown Complex Temp Market. He is located at sundry stall #01-141.
The Chinese Morning Paper did a Chinese article on him on 7th January and here’s my translation.
~~~~ Start of translation ~~~~
He makes old watches tick again
"Vintage watches are like old people. They suffer from rheumatism or other illnesses but will recover after seeing the doctor. Do not set your expectation too high if you collect vintage watches because old people are bound to have some freckles." – Watchmaker, Mr. Goh
First, he uses Swiss imported cleaning solution to clean the patient’s wound. Next, he carries out an organ transplant surgery and finally he uses a heart rate device to ensure that the patient has regained normal heart beat. In one to two hours, the doctor completes his treatment and the patient becomes healthy again.
Here, the ‘doctor’ is not a doctor but a watchmaker and the ‘patient’ not patient but some ‘sick’ watches. ‘Organ’ refers to watch parts while ‘heart beat’ is the beat rate of the movement.
Time flies, 52 year-old Mr. Goh has been ‘practicing’ for more than 30 years. He can be considered the savior of watches that have came to a standstill. With his healing hands, many watches in his shop were able to start ticking again.
Goh who repairs watches in his shop at the Chinatown temporary market joked that as a child, he was too playful and did not do well in school. As a result, he had to learn watch making from his parents and stayed in the trade for tens of years. He recalled his days as an apprentice under his father, "When I was young, I like to open up watches and take them apart and often end up being beaten up by my father. Sometimes, I would ruin watches that were otherwise working correctly after I took them apart."
However, it was due to his boldness and curiosity that he was able to gain competency in watch making and played an important role in his father’s work as an assistant after completing his national service. Now, he has his own shop packed with watches and they attracted a bunch of regular customers that are like old friends to him.
Goh’s used watches came mostly from Malaysia and Thailand. He does not repair them upon acquisition but let them lie cold and dead in his shop. He starts his work in the ‘operating theater’ only when his customers want to buy them.
Apprentice hard to find in watch making trade
Right across Goh’s shop is another shop that sells new watches. To an outsider, it looks like a competitor but Goh is not worried at all. He said that there are different groups of customers for new watches and vintages watches. "Nowadays, young people prefer mechanical watches while the older generation prefers quartz. I am getting more and more customers from the 20 to 30 age group." he added.
Nevertheless, Goh laments that business is tough. He told us that nobody wants to take up apprenticeship as a watchmaker these days and he isn’t pinning any hope on it. "It is difficult to obtain parts for vintage watches these days. Many are already out of stock and even if my customers want to buy, they’ll have to wait till I find similar watches with parts to salvage." Goh said.
When we changed the topic to touch on choosing a good vintage watch, Goh was filled with enthusiasm again. "Vintage watches are like old people. They suffer from rheumatism or other illnesses but will recover after seeing the doctor. Do not set your expectation too high if you collect vintage watches because old people are bound to have some freckles." Goh said humorously.
Mr. Goh gave these sick watches a new lease of life.
~~~~ End of Translation ~~~~