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The Watchband Maker of Luzon

From The American Horologist and Jeweler magazine, January, 1946

The Watchband Maker of Luzon

When the Americans finally liberated the Philippine Islands, they brought luck to Anecito Domingo, a Lingayen jeweler. This 42 year old native, and father of six children, was penniless, weak and ragged. The return of the Americans was like the coming of God, he says, as he and his family assembled in front of his shop, waving and crying with hysterical exultation. The first American he saw took a look at Domingos pitiful condition and wordless. with emotion, embraced him. The jewelers voice still softens when he speaks of it.

Domingo had been making bracelets and combs of salvaged aluminum from wrecked Japanese airplanes and selling them to the Filipinos, but , very few bought the merchandise. There was absolutely very little money on Luzon.

Fortunately, a group of Americans were stationed a short distance from his shop. One day a GI walked in and asked for a watchband. It seems that those made of cloth or leather rotted away in the tropics. The crying need of these GIs was for a metal band that would be able to stand up under the blistering heat. The soldier, upon learning that this jeweler did not stock watchbands, suggested that he make them from stainless steel scrap and sell them to the GIs.

Soon the Americans flocked into his shop with loads of steel-scrap and showed him how to polish it. Domingo, who had made watchbands before from coin silver, tried his hand at steel. The first bands he made he gave to the Americans or swapped them for food. Then he went into the business.
Domingos watchbands are of a simple, pleasant, modernistic design, consisting of a broad band which widens at the center under the watch and two tapering ornamental strips which secure the watch to the band. Each watchband is made to the individual measure and taste of  the customer and no band leaves the shop until the customer and Domingo are satisfied with it. In this respect Domingo is usually harder to please -a fact which never fails to astonish and delight the customer. A satisfied customer is his best advertisement. Except for the hand-painted shingle outside the shop, which reads "WATCHBANDS" his customers are his only advertisement.

Business has been exceptionally good. He has employed two men whose job is strictly polishing steel, but the business cannot be enlarged since he is the only person who can make the bands the way he wants them made. He works seven days a week, from 6 :30 or 7 o'clock in the morning until it gets dark. He averages about four watchbands a day by working steadily, but his sales seldom average more than six a week, since his personalized service will not permit him to build up a reserve stock of bands. He charges 10 pesos ($5) per watchband, grossing an average of 60 pesos a week.

He is unable to do the polishing himself because both of his thumbs have been worn raw and one of them is badly cut.

All in all, Anecito Domingo is looking to the future with great hope thanks to his GI friends who started him in business and are his only customers. He has much to be thankful for!

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