March 28, 2017
Warrenton shop repairs mechanical, digital watches
Photos/Don Del Rosso
“People really like watches because they’re accessories,” Oleg Sulimov says. “They’re accessories for gentlemen, like a tie.”
The business owner has 10 years of experience fixing timepieces.
Tools of the trade in his first-floor shop at 19 Winchester St.
I needed to try a new life. New life, new country. It’s my dream.
— Oleg Sulimov, watch repairman
Timekeeper Watch Service
Watch and clock repair shop
19 Winchester St., Warrenton
10 a.m. to 7 p.m. weekdays, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday
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The Warrenton watch repairman turned a childhood passion for things that ticked into a career.
“I liked watches all my life,” said Oleg Sulimov, owner of Timekeeper Watch Service at 19 Winchester St. “And, I decided to collect and restore them.”
Moving last year from war-torn Ukraine in Eastern Europe, Mr. Sulimov, 39, opened the shop in August.
He repairs and services all brands of mechanical and digital watches — new and antique — and clocks. Besides assembly and parts replacement, he provides basic maintenance such as cleaning and oiling.
“If you break it, I fix it,” said Mr. Sulimov, who eventually hopes to move his wife and their two children from Ukraine to Fauquier as the business grows.
For at least a couple of reasons, Warrenton seemed like the right place to launch a watch repair service, he said.
Fauquier had no such service, and he could stay with his mother and stepfather, who live near town, until he could establish the business and afford a place of his own, Mr. Sulimov said.
While Northern Virginia and Washington have plenty of watch repair businesses, “they’re not convenient to customers here,” he said. “From Warrenton to Northern Virginia, it’s a very big drive.”
After six months in business, Mr. Sulimov averages one customer a day.
“Not too bad,” he said.
But, Mr. Sulimov wants six to 10 customers a day — a number he believes can be achieved through advertising and a website.
His website should be completed in about two weeks.
Repair fees vary, depending on the kind, age, complexity and condition of a watch, which can have 150 to 350 parts, he explained.
“I spend a lot of time looking for parts,” said Mr. Sulimov, who has 10 years’ experience working at his craft. “Sometimes I make parts, because they’re impossible to order.”
Though he gives customers estimates, he can’t always charge them true labor costs when faced with an especially challenging job.
“Sometimes I work with a part 50 times,” said Mr. Sulimov, smiling. “Maybe five, six hours. That’s my problem.”
He recently repaired an OMEGA Seamaster for Tab Vollrath, an agent with Carr & Hyde Insurance in Warrenton.
“It needed a complete overhaul,” Mr. Vollrath said of the 16-year-old, Swiss-made watch. “It started to gain time. So it got fast. I parked it in a drawer for two years.”
He learned about Timekeeper Watch Service from a friend, who had been pleased with Mr. Sulimov’s work.
“I went in and we talked,” Mr. Vollrath recalled. “You could immediately tell he knew what he was doing.”
Repair of his OMEGA cost $250 — about half what the manufacturer would have charged, Mr. Vollrath said.
Mr. Sulimov did a “fantastic” job, he said. “He went above and beyond.”
Despite the growing reliance on smart phones and other digital devices that tell time, Mr. Sulimov has no doubt that watches and clocks will remain popular and essential, thus ensuring his livelihood.
For practical and aesthetic reasons, he believes timepieces never will become obsolete.
“When the (cell phone) battery is dead, what do you do?” he said, nodding at his wristwatch.
“When you’re watching the cinema, you turn off the phone and you want the time?”
Again, Mr. Sulimov glanced at his wristwatch.
“People really like watches because they’re accessories,” he said. “They’re accessories for gentlemen, like a tie.
“My mother has maybe nine watches — for the everyday watch, for the dress watch, for the purse watch.”
Apart from walk-in customers, word-of-mouth and his website, Mr. Sulimov hopes to gain clients through referrals from local jewelers and stores that carry jewelry.
Hartman Jewelers at 36 Main St., for example, has sent three patrons to his shop for repair work, he said.
The jewelry store and its service contractor handle most customer watch repairs — 300 to 500 a year, owner David Hartman said.
But, the store “occasionally” sends customers to businesses such as Timekeeper when his service person doesn’t handle a particular brand or because of time constraints, Mr. Hartman said.
Timekeeper provides a valuable service and cause for people to spend locally, he said.
“I think it’s a good idea to give people one more reason to shop in Warrenton,” Mr. Hartman said. “The more reasons we have for people to come here, the better for everyone.”
Mr. Sulimov first visited America in 2014. His mother already had lived here for about 13 years.
That month-long stay convinced him that he would start a business here and move his family as quickly as possible from Ukraine.
“I needed to try a new life,” Mr. Sulimov said. “New life, new country. It’s my dream.”
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Kay G. · April 3, 2017 at 7:40 pm
I ditto Lash LaRue! Welcome!
Lash_LaRue · March 28, 2017 at 1:05 pm
I am happy to hear that Warrenton now has a dedicated professional who can work on these things! Best wishes for your new business!
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