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How Much For Cleaning?

From Horology magazine, June, 1939

How Much For Cleaning?
(A true story, as told to the editor)

In my work as a traveling representative for a distributor of watch repairing equipment I happened to make a call at the We Grab 'Em Watch Factory. The true name does not matter in telling this story. The "factory" was a small retail store with a show case containing a few watches and an assortment of bracelets and straps. On the walls, as well as the street window, were signs proclaiming "Watches cleaned - 60c." In the rear, behind a partition, were several watchmakers whose manufacturing operations consisted of making a watch tick in the shortest possible time.

Business was apparently good as I was forced to wait for some time while the proprietor waited on several customers.

The first to draw my attention was a young man who evidently did not believe in signs for he immediately asked, "How much do you charge to clean a watch?" "Sixty cents," was the reply. "Let me have a look at it." 

The young man handed over his watch and glanced about the store while the factory expert peered into the movement through his loupe.

Returning to the counter with the watch he said, "How did your watch happen to stop?" "I don't know," was the reply, "I drove through the mountains last night and it was pretty cold. Maybe that had something to do with it."

"I'll say it must've been cold. Why, you've got two cracked jewels. That'll cost you sixty cents for cleaning and a dollar and a half apiece for the jewels, three sixty altogether."

Seeing that the proprietor had finished I was about to speak to him when in came another customer. Again there was that disbelief in signs when he said "How much do you charge for cleaning?" "Sixty cents. Let me examine your watch a moment and I'll see if that's all it needs." 

Unbuttoning his overcoat the man reached into his pocket and took out his watch. After a brief perusal through his loupe, the horologist said, "How did your watch happen to stop?" "I dunno. She just quit last night."

"Do you always wear that overcoat?" asked the jeweler.

"Why yes. I've been wearing it regularly during the cold weather."

"Well, that explains it," was the reply. "The hair from your coat has gotten into the movement and become twisted around the gears. It's ground down the teeth and now we'll have to replace three of them. It'll cost three sixty to repair your watch, sixty cents for cleaning and a dollar apiece for the gears."

Before I could get off my chair in came another customer.
"How much for cleaning? My watch just stopped."

Once more the horologist asked, "How did it happen to stop?" "Oh, I just noticed that the crystal was dirty so I wiped it off with a handkerchief that I moistened in alcohol and a couple of hours ago it stopped." With a triumphant gleam in his eyes the jeweler exclaimed, "So you wiped it with alcohol! Don't you know there's nothing worse for a watch than alcohol?" About this time I decided that I had spent enough time waiting, so I left, intending to return some other day. 


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