That's hearsay - a Watch Repair story

In the wide world of watches there exists "the knockoff." The Knockoff watch is a watch that looks like a name brand watch but is made with cheap parts or unauthorized parts or authentic parts but not assembled where it needs to be to be genuine. The Knockoff is extremely popular because it allows a person to look like they own a high end watch without actually having to pay the high end money for the look.

The most common knockoffs are Cartier, Rolex, Omega, Chanel and Tag Heuer. These knockoffs usually look really good and pass for the real thing. We call these watches "faux."

Some knockoffs are really bad. They are extremely light - weight wise - and the construction is usually all wrong. The bands are mystery alloy instead of stainless steel and aside from the name; the watches don't even resemble the authentic counterparts. We call these watches "fake."

One time we had a customer with a knockoff Movado that was so bad we called it "ridiculous."

However, despite the fact that the watch was ridiculous, we repaired the clasp on it because it was repairable. The customer had also requested that we get an estimate on a new band for the watch and that we were not able to do since the watch was a fake. Besides a new band would not have fit on the watch because the watch's construction was all jacked up. Like I said, it was ridiculous.

Dealing with a customer with a knockoff is always a delicate situation. There are the customers who know that they have a knockoff and aren't surprised that repairs cannot be done. These are easy customers.

Then there are the customers who have no idea the watch is a knockoff. They may have received the watch as a gift or they bought from a source they believed to be reputable. These customers tend to be surprised that repairs cannot be done and are usually thrown off when we suggest that they "take the watch back to where they bought it" for repairs. "Take the watch back to where you bought it" is our way of avoiding having to tell a knockoff owner that they own a knockoff. This usually works for most people. This did not work for ridiculous Movado watch's owner.

"What do you mean 'take it back to where I bought it?'" asked Knockoff Movado Owner. "It's a Movado. I should be able to get a new band from anywhere."

"You should," I answered. "However, for this particular watch you will need to take the watch back to where you bought it."


"Because your watch is special?"

"Special how?"

"Special in a way that won't allow me to get an estimate on a new band."

"Oh," said Knockoff Movado Owner, "cause for a minute there I thought you were going to tell me that my watch is a fake."

I remained quiet.

"You were going to tell me that my watch is a fake, weren't you?"

I remained quiet.

"You can tell me. Is my watch a fake?"

"Yes," I answered.

"How do you know that?"

I didn't want to get into the many obvious indicators; the Chinese screws, the tiny light weight movement, the alloy band with prong like construction that was on backwards, etc. So, I simply blamed my watchmaker.

"My watchmaker looked at the watch and determined it is a faux." (I was being nice. The watch was ridiculous.)

"Ha!" Knockoff Movado Owner exclaimed. "I got you. You aren't saying the watch is fake. Someone else is saying the watch is fake and you're just repeating what he/she said. That's hearsay."

"Excuse me?"

"That's hearsay. See, I study Law and that's hearsay. My watch is not fake and unless I hear it directly from your watchmaker that my watch is fake, I refuse to believe that my watch is fake."

"Okay," I replied.

"So, where is your watchmaker," Knockoff Movado Owner asked. "I want him/her to tell me that my watch is fake."

"Sir," I said, "I am not about to 'summons' my watchmaker. If you refuse to believe that the watch is a fake, the so be it. The point is that I cannot get a new band for your watch and if you want a new band you must either take it back to where you bought it or contact Movado directly."

"And what happens when I contact Movado directly?"

"Well, you give them the style number and serial number off the back and then they will send you the appropriate band."

He turned the watch over and looked at the back.

"My watch doesn't have numbers on the back," he said.

I remained quiet.

The truth washed over Knockoff Movado Owner like a morning shower and without saying anything else, he turned and walked away.

I swam in lava - a Watch Repair story

One day the owner of a Cyma watch came into the shop and he was angry. He had previously purchased a water test and now his watch had condensation. He wanted the watch dried out, the movement checked and any damage done as a result of the water getting into the watch repaired with no additional cost to him.

I began by apologizing for the condensation. Next, I explained that watch repair is not a perfect science and that is the reason we warranty all our repairs. Then I told him that I would dry out his watch, check the movement and repair any damage caused by the water with no extra charge to him.

He nodded.

I proceeded to write up the repair envelope for him using the information from his original repair envelope. Upon completing the write up, I spin the envelope around, slid it towards him, handed him a pen and asked him to sigh the envelope. He stood there for a minute - staring at the envelope not signing - then looked up at me and asked, "Why did this happen?"

"I don't know," I answered. "Was the watch in contact with any water?"

"I shower daily."

"With the watch on?"


"Well, sir," I began, "though the watch is water resistant, showering with a watch is not good for the watch. The heat from the shower can cause the nylon gasket in the watch to expand and that could eventually lead to a breach allowing water to enter the watch."

"Bullshit," he barked.

"Excuse me?"

"Bullshit," he repeated, "I always shower with the watch on. I shower with this watch on, I deep sea dive with this watch on, I have swam in lava with this watch on and this has never happened before."

I remained silent. I couldn't think of anything to say. What do you say to a man that has swam in lava and lived to tell the tale?

After a long moment of silence, he said, "Just fix it."

He signed the envelope and walked away.

I pulled the watch out of the envelope and stared at the amazing Cyma watch that survived a recreational swim in lava.

My old wall of quotes

This is a picture of the wall in my first apartment in Chicago. I covered the wall with quotes to keep me motivated and to remind me of some of the simple truths in life.

"To be early is to be on time, to be on time is to be late and to be late is to never have been there at all." - Unknown

"The only thing we have to fear is fear itself." - Franklin D. Roosevelt

"The brighter you are, the more you have to learn." - Don Herold

"I've never let my school interfere with my education." - Mark Twain

"The only place success comes before work is in the dictionary." - Vince Lombardi

"I don't know the key to success but the key to failure is trying to please everybody." - Bill Cosby

"Do not ask questions that you know the answer to will bother you." - Unknown

"Discipline is the bridge between goals and accomplishments." - Unknown

"Many of life's failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up." - Thomas Alva Edison

"Life is ten percent what happens to you and ninety percent how you react." - Unknown

"An excuse is worse and more terrible than a lie, for an excuse is a lie guarded." Pope John Paul II

"Whatever you are, be a good one."

Chicago Comedy Duo The Defiant Thomas Brothers Receives Open Run

Award-Winning Sketch Comedy Group Has Open Run at Donny's Skybox

The Defiant Thomas Brothers, the recently reunited sketch comedy duo of Seth Thomas and Paul Thomas, have been extended to an open run at Donny’s Skybox Theatre in Piper’s Alley on Fridays at 7:30 p.m.   After an almost ten-year post-breakup hiatus, the pair initially had a September 4 - October 23 run scheduled.

Their sold-out premiere was held at Stage 773 and the following show at Annoyance Theatre due to the August 26 fire and subsequent cleanup in Piper's Alley, but after the smoke cleared the two have settled in at Donny's Skybox.

"We're excited to have the opportunity to anchor that Friday slot because the show has been getting tighter every performance. It's a lot like when we started, running every week whether there was one person or seven, except now we're drawing more than seven people," said Seth Thomas.

After teaming up in 2002, just over two years later the Defiant Thomas Brothers were invited to HBO’s U.S. Comedy Arts Festival, where the duo received the award for best sketch group alongside best alternative act Flight of the Conchords. After scoring a development deal with Regency Television (Malcolm in the Middle, Bernie Mac), they appeared on the cover of Time Out Chicago and performed on the mainstage of the Chicago Improv Festival, where they were also awarded Sketch Artists of the year.

Please note there will be no Defiant Thomas Brothers shows 11/20, 11/27, and 12/4 during the fifth annual Mary Scruggs Works By Women Festival, which is a showcase of new sketches and songs written by women of the Second City Training Center to honor and continue the legacy of Mary Scruggs, Head of the Training Center Writing Program from 2001–2011.

Tickets for the Defiant Thomas Brothers are $15, $12 for students, and may be purchased from The Second City Box Office at 312-337-3992 or online at

Don't Snitch Do Tell

I am against snitching and I support telling law enforcement information that can lead to the successful arrest of someone breaking the law. 

Snitching and telling are the same behavior; giving law enforcement information that leads to the successful arrest of someone breaking the law. So what is the difference between the two? The answer, the person doing the giving.

For the purpose of this post I will refer to two types of people in America. The Lawful - those that do not commit crimes and The Lawless - those that do commit crimes.

When a Lawless gives information to law enforcement that leads to the successful arrest of another Lawless, that's snitching. I am against such behavior because the only reason to do so - in most cases - is to minimize one's own penalty or to maximize one's criminal potential. Both are despicable actions. If one does the crime one should do the time and there should be no deals. I believe in making law enforcement work.

When a Lawful gives information on a Lawless that leads to the Lawless' arrest that is telling. And that is not snitching. That is doing one's duty as an American citizen. Make no bones about it. Lawlessness is a detriment to a functional peaceful society. It is the horrors of lawlessness that caused humans to seek civilization and lawfulness in the first place. When the Lawful no longer do their part in maintaining a lawful society, then they undermine the laws that they created.

Through silence, the Lawful - often times the victims of the crimes committed by the Lawless - protect the Lawless. 

When I think about all the violence in the streets of America, I think about all the Lawful people quietly living with killers. I think of all the Lawful people feeding these killers and washing these killers' clothes and going to bed every night knowing that a killer - and possibly his/her weapon of choice - is also sleeping in that house tonight. This silence is just as much to blame as the violence.

Those that don't commit crimes and have the information that could lead to the end of further crimes have a duty as a law abiding American citizen to speak up and speak out. Tell law enforcement what you know and how you can help end crime.

Those that commit crimes, well, there is no honor amongst thieves so, I guess you do as you please. But as a criminal, it's weak to get caught and rat. You are a criminal. You already know how it ends. So, when you get caught, attack the consequences with the same vigor that you had when you committed the crime.

My pilgrimage to the Frolic Room in Hollywood

In August of 2005, 311 released their eighth studio album called Don't Tread on Me and upon finding out that track three - Frolic Room - was an actual place, I vowed to visit this bar the first chance I got. To hear the song Frolic Room, click here.

Luckily for me, I was in Southern California in November of the same year the album dropped. I was in L.A. with DTB pitching to networks so on November 9th - assuming the date stamp on the photos are correct - I went to the Frolic Room.

The Frolic Room is between Vine and Argyle on Hollywood Blvd. The same Hollywood Blvd. as the famous Chinese Theater, Ripley's Believe It or Not and the Guinness World Records Museum and the Hollywood Walk of Fame. In fact, the Frolic Room is right in front of Gary Cooper's star. To learn more about the Frolic Room click here.

I found the place to be fantastic. I was expecting a dive bar and that's exact what it turned out to be, a great dive bar. It had a jukebox - which I loaded with dollars and played the entire Don't Tread on Me album. Only seemed right.

The people were awesome. It was a super eclectic crowd and while you would expect a bunch of tourists like me the majority of the people were locals. I got the feeling this was their local dive bar and that fame was just part of the package when you are on Hollywood Blvd.

The drinks were strong and good. And strong. My buddy M. and I got good hammered. That's probably how the thumbs-up-while-sitting-on-the-toilet picture happened. I don't think I actually used the bathroom but then again, I might have. I was hammered.

I haven't been to L.A. in years. My Google search tells me the Frolic Room is still there and I hope to get back there once again. I hope 311 is still in the jukebox.