There are certain things you’ll only ever want to trust to someone extraordinarily qualified, flying a plane, or example, or operating on your brain. Or perhaps most importantly of all, servicing the grail of your watch collection.
At least if the other two go wrong, your precious Patek Philippe is still safe and sound. You might not have heard the name but consider Mr Steven Hale the horological equivalent of a surgeon with a Super Speciality Medical Degree. If something’s happening on the inside, he’s the guy you want to open her up and take a look. Steven cut his (wheel) teeth at none other than Somlo Antiques of Burlington Arcade.
You’ll likely have wandered past them at some point, in the shortcut between Piccadilly and Savile Row. If you’re an Omega fan, you’ll have stopped to linger and stare wistfully at their stock too. This was back in 2005 however, and after 10 years’ experience restoring Somlo’s classic watches, Hale moved onto the next step.
That was to set-up a purpose-built workshop in Watford. The 2,500 sq ft space is a magician’s workshop, consisting of precision tools and specialist equipment that your ‘‘unextraordinary’ watch repairman would struggle to operate, let alone get hold of. Hidden away like an Aladdin’s Cave, you’d never know this trove of precision engineering could be there. It’s something else, take it from us.
There’s a good reason why Hale is officially qualified to repair plenty of watches that would normally have to be sent all the way back to Switzerland –including Rolex, for which they’re the only UK workshop to receive the highest level of accreditation.
They are one of the few independent watch centres you might trust your precious Paul Newman Daytona. Of course, it’s not just about the rarities. All watches need a good service now and then, and even if suggested service intervals are getting longer as movements get better, it’s still worth regular check-ups. Consider it an MOT for your watch.
The downside is if you need to send your watch off to Switzerland it can be quite expensive and time consuming. Having a workshop here in the UK, one that will check with you before making any repairs (owners of beautifully patinated dials, take note) makes for a reassuring safety net. Not only does it cut lead times and add a surprising level of transparency to proceedings, but you can always harass them to get it done a bit quicker.
They’ll probably love it. If you don’t want to make the trek to Watford (we wouldn’t blame you in all honesty) Steven Hale Watch Restoration also have a showroom in Mayfair, between Bond Street and Brook Street.
But if you do get an opportunity to visit the workshop – and fancy geeking out over balance wheels as much as we do – then do it. There are few places this side of Switzerland quite like it.
More details at SHWR.