Louisville Magazine

FEB 2019

Louisville Magazine is Louisville's city magazine, covering Louisville people, lifestyles, politics, sports, restaurants, entertainment and homes. Includes a monthly calendar of events.

Issue link: https://loumag.epubxp.com/i/1074882

Contents of this Issue


Page 71 of 111

LOUISVILLE MAGAZINE 2.19 69 e door to the little white shed swings open and a young man walks into Char- lie Wang's time machine, clocks scat- tered over the plywood walls, watches overflowing shelves in the cases. "Hi," the man says. "I called you about my Rolex Submariner flaking." He seems unsure of the somewhat smoky-smelling Wang's Watch Repair, in Lyndon, which he found by reading online reviews like most newcomers. Wang takes the watch, puts it under his work lamp bent low and bright. "Usually the dial doesn't flake," says Wang, who has been repairing watches since his broke 30 years ago and he couldn't find anyone to fix it. It quickly became his thing. He'd buy broken ones to practice on — sort of like his version of tuition to school. Cheap ones, at first, then into the thousands of dollars. He'd talk to old watch people in town (though many are now retired or dead) and read books, learn- ing how to remove rust from a piece, why watches give false readings, when to use what tiny screwdriver. How to spot a fake. "It's fake watch!" Wang says. Frustrating — the fakes, the junk, the "cheapies." "at'd explain why I got a really good deal on it," the guy says, a little awkwardly. Wang knows how kids these days love that Submariner — popular, sporty, big, with a chapter ring that turns. ey wear it for fashion, for looks, without understanding any of the complications — any function that exists in addition to telling time, like displaying the day and date. In the old days, people used watches practically. If you were a pilot, you'd buy the GMT watch with dual-time feature. If you were a diver, you'd get a watch with a chapter ring that registers when you go underwater. If you were a cook, you'd use a chronograph (think: stopwatch) to time the pie. "It's fake! Only real one never flakes out!" Wang says, popping the band apart, then using a baster-like contrap- tion to clean the insides by pumping out air. "Yeah, this a Chinese move- ment that copied the Swiss model." "So, it's a fake?" "I know the watch very well," Wang says. "You cannot lie to me." Wang doesn't like working on the fake watches. His specialty is vintage pieces. Sometimes 300-year-old watch- es, like the early English pieces with the ivory, tortoiseshell, silver or gold cases, or the Swiss pocket watch with enamel inlay. Doesn't see many of those here, though, because Louisville's "the country." Wang, 58, opened the shop 12 years ago, when he returned to Ken- tucky following a stint in his homeland of Taiwan. He'd moved there — and had a repair shop for 13 years — so his son could grow up in the culture. Mostly he deals with the jewelry stores, like Merkley Kendrick, which has been around for 180-something years. Last night, he finished a couple watches, including an old pocket watch, for Merkley Kendrick. He was out here at two in the morning, rounding out his 14- or 15-hour work- day, which also included fixing the Rolex, Omega and Timex sent in from Lexington. He's waiting on a crystal for the piece on his desk that he's already taken apart, put in solution, oiled and polished. Wang's pet squirrel rattles in its cage. e squirrel is Tom. Wang found him and a baby chipmunk, Jerry, in the backyard last summer. Tom and Jerry. He'll sometimes play with them after he's done working or watch them cuddle up together at night. "ey're buddies," he says. Right now, as he's working the kid's "Rolex," another man walks in, this one shiny-shoed, his Lexus locked. e Rolex Yacht-Master he has worn on his wrist for 15 years sparkles. Wang, comfortable in his navy shirt, jeans and flip-flops, says, "So, what can I do for you, sir?" He's looking for a Rolex President. "Oh, I have just one. Not a quick sale. e President model? On the sec- ond shelf," Wang says, nodding toward the long glass case of watches upon watches, several with Mickey Mouse behind their glass faces, one with the moon, some bands blinging, others dulled, no movements ticking. "Most of mine are old. I don't have modern watch." "Plenty of things here," the man says, searching for the real Rolex. His eyes finally find the navy face of the vintage watch he's after, new ones re- tailing for $40,000. is piece is from the '70s — 18-karat gold then and now. "You know, oughta have a prize — someone comes in here and guesses how many watches…" "I don't even know," Wang says, knowing that case is only some of them. "I have no time to figure it out. I buy watches every day on the internet." "Do you really?" "It's all I do." Wang's Watch Repair 9310 New LaGrange Road

Articles in this issue

Archives of this issue

view archives of Louisville Magazine - FEB 2019