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The Fashion Geek Podcast

60 | Romain Vesaphong Is The Rolex Repairman

What does it take to work on a Rolex? A Breitling? A Timex? Reg talks with the watchmaker for the House of Michaud, a fourth generation high end watch retailer in Switzerland. Time’s a wasting, check out the episode.



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Timestamps

00:00 Introduction to Fashion Geek
01:07 Meet Romain Vesavant: The Watchmaker
02:33 Romain's Journey from Banking to Watchmaking
12:04 Life in Paris and the Decision to Change Careers
18:46 The Watchmaking School Experience
25:58 Crafting the Perfect Watch: A Day in Watchmaking School
27:57 Navigating the Watchmaking Crisis
31:00 Landing a Job at a Prestigious Watch and Jewelry Store
34:02 The Unique Role of a Watchmaker
39:17 Training and Certification with Rolex
44:55 Challenges and Triumphs in Watch Repair
51:43 Tips for Watch Maintenance
55:26 Always Be Fly: Elegance in Watchmaking and Life

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Transcript

Romain Vesaphong [00:00:00]: I really wanted to understand how the watch, was working, but not only by understanding the mechanical, theory and, all that stuff. I wanted really to to understand the difference between one watch to another, understanding the value, the difference of the value, of the prices, of the materials also, because, sometimes you have 2 watches very similar working with the same movement. But at the end, it's not the same movement, and the price is totally different. So, all that tiny, details, I I wanted to understand it. And I found that the only way to know it was to become a watchmaker. Reginald Ferguson [00:00:54]: I'm Reg Ferguson, and I'm a fashion consultant from New York City, born and raised. I've been helping men look fly for years. And now, I wanna help you learn more about menswear, the entrepreneurs, the brands, and top fashion tips on The Fashion Geek Podcast. In my neighborhood, we have a watch guy. He works in a shoe repair store. He is a Russian Hasidic Jew. The owner of the store, Mikhail, is his childhood friend from Russia. He's Christian. Reginald Ferguson [00:01:33]: Go figure. I go there to get my batteries replaced. Take that petrol. Just take that. Get an occasional watch band or in dire situations get my mechanical watches fixed. I have a simple collection of contemporary and vintage. And every once in a while, he helps me out. He has a connect with Seiko. Reginald Ferguson [00:01:55]: He gets the parts wholesale. He guarantees his work for a year. His fingers are long and nimble. He doesn't wear glasses, but he always wears the wheel. One day he showed me some Rolexes and Breitlings he was working on. Customers trust him with those? Some of the models could pay the rent on that place. I could pay for lunch. Okay. Reginald Ferguson [00:02:21]: Maybe. Maybe. What kind of skill does it take to look into a tiny watch, determine the problem, and make it just like me? Yo. This is Reg Ferguson, fashion geek number 1. How are you? Welcome to the ride. Thank you so much for listening. I am a men's fashion consultant here in New York City, and I help fashion challenged men go from confused to confident. If you ever found yourself staring at the closet not knowing what to wear or the idea of shopping for clothes makes you feel physically ill, then this is the show for you. Reginald Ferguson [00:03:07]: My goal with every episode is to help make looking good feel easy. If you ever want my help, email me at reg@nyfashiongeek.com for a consultation. If you have a friend who's looking to level up his fashion style wardrobe game, please share an episode with them. While you're at it, if you dig the show and haven't already left us a rating and review, please consider doing so now. Your shares, ratings, and reviews help us grow the show and help us get the best possible guest and help more men dress their best. Today, we are going to talk with Romaine Vessafang of Michaud who is in Switzerland. Never done this before. This is international. Reginald Ferguson [00:03:53]: Like, I've done international, but never done Switzerland. And we're gonna talk about something that the everyday man should not take for granted. We're gonna talk about watch repair and watches too. Romain in the building via Switzerland. How are you, man? Romain Vesaphong [00:04:12]: I'm fine. Thank you. Glad to to speak with you tonight. Tonight for me. Yeah. Reginald Ferguson [00:04:18]: Tonight for you the afternoon for me. Romain Vesaphong [00:04:23]: Finally, we we talk to each other. It's good. Reginald Ferguson [00:04:25]: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. You know, Romaine, I was I was kinda chasing you, buddy. I was I was feeling very sensitive. So, like, hey. If you don't wanna do this, you're like, no. It's a wonderful idea. Reginald Ferguson [00:04:37]: Okay. So let's do it. It's a wonderful idea. Okay. So let's do it. Romain Vesaphong [00:04:43]: You know You're doing it. Reginald Ferguson [00:04:44]: So Yeah. And yes. I know it's a 6 hour difference, so this is really this is really cool for me. You're in the future. Romain Vesaphong [00:04:52]: Yes. So I can tell you, the the the final score of the the football match. Right. A hero. Right? Exactly. Reginald Ferguson [00:05:02]: So before we go into our topic, please tell us, so what do you do? So what do you what do you do? Romain Vesaphong [00:05:24]: So yeah, I'm a watchmaker, for a little bit more than 4 years now. I'm a former banker, and I decided to change totally my professional path from banking to watchmaking by passion for watches. And, yeah, after, following 2 years of watchmaking school. Yeah, I became a watchmaker. So now I'm living in Switzerland for the same duration. So for about 4 years, a little bit more. And I'm enjoying, my new my new job. And, yes, I I mainly repair watches on high end brands like Rolex Cartier, IWC. Romain Vesaphong [00:06:20]: Yes. That kinds of, of brand. Reginald Ferguson [00:06:24]: I just like the fact that I can call you the Rolex repairman. Romain Vesaphong [00:06:29]: Yes. You you can. It's, I think, Rolex watches are the major, part of my activity, currently, also because, I'm working for a boutique, so a retailer. And, and we are dealing with Rolex. So old Rolex or, you know, contemporaries, watches. I am, taking good care of them. So if you're a Rolex owner, you can just come to the boutique and I will take care of, of your watch. Reginald Ferguson [00:07:12]: You know, Romain, you're very kind. I do not own a Rolex. I will probably never own a Rolex. Yeah. Not yet. Oh, you too. Romain Vesaphong [00:07:22]: Not yet. Reginald Ferguson [00:07:23]: Wait a second. I thought you were repairman, not a salesman. Easy, buddy. Romain Vesaphong [00:07:27]: Yeah. Because, you know, I'm a former banker. So, being a salesman is part of, yeah, maybe in it's in my dinner. It's in your blood. It's in my blood. No, but but, you know, my position is I'm in charge of the watchmaking workshop. So I'm do the repairs, But I'm also dealing with, customers. So, as a watchmaker, but also as a salesman. Romain Vesaphong [00:08:08]: In that way, when my colleagues needs, like, some technical support, I can assist them in a, during, you know, an appointment with a customer. And sometimes, yeah, I just I just take care of, of customers entirely by myself. And, yeah, I used to, yeah, I like this because my my daily basis is, is different, not only repairing watches, but also talking with human beings. It's nice to. Reginald Ferguson [00:08:56]: So I am not going to let you breeze your biography by to listeners, much less to myself. It just wouldn't be fair because I've never had someone like you on the pod. So this is a very unique experience for me outside of you just being in Switzerland and you saying to me, hey. When you get a Rolex, just get on a plane and come see me. I'm like, hey. But, Romain, we we have a Rolex place on Fifth Avenue. No. No. Reginald Ferguson [00:09:24]: No. No. Come to Switzerland. So but my point is, you were in banking. Were you an investment banker? Romain Vesaphong [00:09:34]: Yeah. It was a quite specific position because I was developing the relationship between our bank and foreign countries, embassies. Because yes, it's quite specific. So first I was, yeah, you know, just developing the relationship, the relation and after this, we were building together a classic commercial relationship. Reginald Ferguson [00:10:11]: So what was that like working with different embassies? For example, were they all European embassies? Give us more some more detail there. Romain Vesaphong [00:10:24]: Well, I used to work, in Laos for a French bank. And when I was back to Paris, I was in charge mainly to to, to develop the relation with the the embassy of Laos of the the how to say in English? Yeah. Laos. Reginald Ferguson [00:10:49]: Yeah. Yeah. And Romain Vesaphong [00:10:54]: and because I was in charge of this, I worked with a colleague who with, who was in charge of other embassies. And after that, I just work with, with him. And that was a part of, of my position. So, yes, we had European embassies, but also African countries, embassies, stuff like that. Yeah. I will not tell you which countries or anything because it's part of even if I'm not working for the bank anymore. I think it's part of the, you know, the confidential aspect of the of the job. But, yeah, it was a quite diverse? Is it good? Good word? Reginald Ferguson [00:11:49]: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. It was just fine, man. Romain Vesaphong [00:11:54]: So yes. Reginald Ferguson [00:11:55]: Oh, okay. No. I'm not trying to pry about your former diplomatic relationships. I know you signed an agreement and and the world has ears, so I'm not I'm not gonna pry. But I am going to inquire, this sounds like a fascinating job from the outside looking in. What led you to one day go, I don't wanna do this anymore. I love watches. How did that happen? Romain Vesaphong [00:12:26]: Well, I think there is 2. There was 2. 2 aspects. First one was, yeah, I love watches. And I was really fond of watches. And I think I'm a very curious guy. So when I'm discovering something and I I'm going, I I want to go very deep, into the the understanding of the the topic. So for watches, I really wanted to understand how the watch was working, but not only by understanding the mechanical theory and all that stuff. Romain Vesaphong [00:13:12]: I wanted really to to understand the difference between one watch to another, understanding the value, the difference of the value of the prices, of the materials also, because sometimes you have 2 watches very similar, working with the same movement. But at the end, it's not the same movement and the price is totally different. So all that tiny details, I want you to understand it. And I found that the only way to know it was to become a watchmaker. Even if I was into journalism, discussing with passionate people collectors, okay. Every of that persons were very, had had a huge knowledge. But only watchmaker only watchmakers can have access to the information I wanted. So that was the first aspect. Romain Vesaphong [00:14:23]: And you will tell me, okay, it's not a reason to leave your job if you have a good position. So the second aspect was, I was back from Laos to Paris. And, you know, the, I think the the life in Paris is is very different when you come from, the countryside. And my wife and I grew up in, in the countryside in France. And, I think that the life in Paris was not really matching our lifestyle. And, you know, the the the stress, it was very stressful. I spent like 2 hour and a half in, in the in the turn transports. So yeah, we did it because it was a good opportunity. Romain Vesaphong [00:15:23]: We we earned some good money too. So when you're young, it's good. It was a nice experience. But you know, when you forecast to build a family, and you think of, yeah, the future. Yeah, we we just we just were okay on on the fact that we would be ready to change our life. So that's why I changed from banker to watchmaker. Reginald Ferguson [00:15:59]: So you hit on something. You are married. So so, you know, you were, and to me still are, a young family. So what was your wife's reaction when you came in the house one day and said, babe, you know this banking thing? I don't wanna do it anymore. I wanna learn how to repair watches. Exactly. Yes. Please chuckle because and pass the pass the baguette. Reginald Ferguson [00:16:34]: So what yeah. How did she how did she respond to this romaine? Romain Vesaphong [00:16:39]: It's a good question. You know, I I think it's more her who encouraged me to change the life this this, life. Yes. Because when, you know, I was, I was hired by the bank for a specific project. And I knew that that project was ending, not soon, but in the in the next year. So I was thinking of what would happen after this project and what would be my opportunities. And, the opportunities, you know, in life, I think it's you can apply it in any industry or any situation. When you have to face several opportunities, You can see opportunity in the same company. Romain Vesaphong [00:17:41]: Or if you widen your site, then you can see any option as an opportunity. So it was not more difficult to say, okay, I will change the company and I will go to something very different. Also, I passed some tests, and I was accepted in, autolary school, which was very famous. So, you know, the risk was measured also. Because when you when you you do this school, you have really, the the the skills. You you really, the the teachers and, every means are given to you to to reach the the success in your in your, you know, in your school education. And, yeah, and when I told her that I wanted to maybe to see something, something else. She was the 1st to say, Okay, let's leave this this area. Romain Vesaphong [00:19:07]: Paris is not for me. And, yeah, watchmaking, you know, you're very passionate. You like, being very precise, accurate. I think it's good for you. Let's let's go to the that school and get some information. You know, next week, I will take a day off and we go. So we took the we took the car. I drove for 3 hours. Romain Vesaphong [00:19:37]: And we went to that school. And we discovered every student and that school was, dedicated to person who reorientate themselves. So it's not you are not with only very young people, 16, 18. You know, you were with, people. The the average age was around, 25 to 30 years old. And the majority of that persons are passionate and very motivated because they are reoriented. So when you you arrive at the bench on the morning, you know why you are here. Complaining because of tiny stuff. Romain Vesaphong [00:20:28]: You know, you're here to learn something. You're here to learn a new a new job. So, yeah, it's a nice dynamic. So, yeah, that was not so hard for me to make that change. Reginald Ferguson [00:20:49]: Well, it's funny, Romaine, you said tiny stuff. It was all tiny stuff, Romaine. Because you're fixing watches. Romain Vesaphong [00:20:56]: Yes. And and as I used to say, for watches, but also for, you know, for the outfits, and for anything. It's all about the details and tiny stuff. Reginald Ferguson [00:21:08]: Right. How long was this program? Romain Vesaphong [00:21:15]: It was, 2 years 2 years, educational program. And it was very intense because from 8 on the morning to 5 on the afternoon, you were on, at the bench. So, yeah, very intense. But, the the program is very well built. You when you begin, you you you are asking yourself, wow. But how will I do this? And, you know, when you have to craft by yourself without any electric electronic stuff or anything, only by hands, you know, some balance shaft. The balance shaft is the the the main element of the regulating system of a mechanical watch. And this has pivots, which have a diameter of, like, a tenth of, millimeter. Reginald Ferguson [00:22:23]: Oh my god. Romain Vesaphong [00:22:24]: So, you know, some pivots can be thinner than a hair, a human hair. So when you begin, and you see you you will have to do this by hand, you say, it's impossible. How will I do that? Right? And that's what Reginald Ferguson [00:22:45]: I'm feeling already. Romain Vesaphong [00:22:47]: And, you know, 6 months later, it's your exam, and you have to do this. And you have 8 hours to do this. Reginald Ferguson [00:22:58]: 8 hours to Yes, something. Romain Vesaphong [00:23:00]: Yeah. And you do it. And you do it because, the program is very well done. So you begin to do big, big parts. And then slowly without without, having the the impression of of doing it, you are decreasing the size of every parts you are crafting. This is the the main objective of the 1st year is, you know, micro mechanics. So you you are crafting watch, watch, pieces by, yes, by by hand, by yourself. And this is very nice. Reginald Ferguson [00:23:45]: Yeah. To me, this is an acquired skill, and that's why we're talking. Why don't you go back in time and share with us what was a typical day like at the school? Romain Vesaphong [00:24:04]: So the program in the 1st and the second year was very different. So the 1st year when when I was, yeah, arrived, you know, I went to the the locker room. So I changed my shoes, I put my blues on. I went to my bench, I found all of my friends. And then we had an objective of the day. So for instance, we had to, to craft, at the beginning, we had to craft, a winding stem. So the winding stem is that that stem you are turning when you are, winding your watch with the crown. Yes. Romain Vesaphong [00:24:51]: So this is a very technical, part because the the that stem has different, shapes on it. You have a thread, you have a square, you have some different diameters, and you have a pivots at the end. So for this, for instance, if if I had to do it on that day, I took a bar of of steel. I had to cut it. Then I had to do the, you know, the chemical treatment. So I have to warm it very, very high. And then I plunge it in. Yeah. Romain Vesaphong [00:25:43]: I put it in water. So you have that chemical treatment, the the material which change its structure. So this is beginning to be maybe too much technical. But No. No. No. No. No. Romain Vesaphong [00:25:59]: We we will better Reginald Ferguson [00:26:00]: we don't and I definitely don't know anything about this. I'm fascinated. Keep it going. Uh-huh. Romain Vesaphong [00:26:05]: Okay. So, this is what we call, in French, we say, so it's a, tramped tramped steel, maybe. You know, when you warm up very strongly, steel, and then you you slow instantly, structure of the material is like, is like glass. You know, it's very hard and very strong. So, after this, we have to change the structure of the material. So we will put the piece in, in a little, I don't know the word in in English, but we will, make the that, steel piece. Well, we will warm up the piece, and, we will warm up it slowly. And by warming up, slowly, the material will change its structure slowly. Romain Vesaphong [00:27:27]: And in watchmaking, when when we reach the good structure, the steel will change its its color, and it will begin it will, become, blue. And that's one reason why in, in watches, you often have, like, blue hands or blue screws or stuff like that. Yeah. I have a Reginald Ferguson [00:27:57]: I have a I have a antique boulevard, and the hands are blue or bluish. Romain Vesaphong [00:28:04]: Yes. For instance exactly. For instance, because, the blue in watchmaking is the color of the right structure of the the steel. The the the good, the good, structure, the good strength of the steel. And then, you know, when you have your bar, your your stem, no, it's more a steel bar, which is blue, you know that you warm up, you warm it up at the good temperature, and the structure is now good to be crafted. And after this, you have all the different, you know, steps to to craft it. You lower the diameters. You do the the threads. Romain Vesaphong [00:28:57]: You yeah. It's it's very interesting. So a day at this this school, for instance, the 1st day, the 1st year, it was every day we were doing one major piece like this one, like a winding stem. So, yeah. And, at the end of the day, we were just putting everything in our layers. And you know, not layers drawers. Yes. And, yeah, we were just not getting we we did not get back home. Romain Vesaphong [00:29:40]: We used to go to the bar drinking some beers. And after this, yeah, we we went back home. Reginald Ferguson [00:29:51]: I can't imagine the stress, the pressure because of the minuteness of all this detail. Mhmm. I mean, I just can't. I mean, you know, a standard mechanical watch, and please correct me, I mean, has hundreds of pieces. Mhmm. And we're talking about something that goes back, you know, really centuries. And obviously, there's a crew of us that still love to wear them. Right? So so obviously, we could continue talking in that type of detail about the school, but we won't because Mhmm. Reginald Ferguson [00:30:33]: Because what I wanna ask now is after you finished your 2 year program, how do you then end up at this world renowned watch and jewelry store, which has been around for 4 generations, AKA the house of Michaud. Every month when something important is going on, I send out my New York Fashion Geek newsletter to my fellow geeks. It drops on Fridays and it offers a quick glimpse into the world of The Fashion Geek. I offer some tips and it's a nice breezy read. To sign up, just head over to nyfashiongeek.com and fill out the welcome sheet. Romain Vesaphong [00:31:20]: Well, it's it's a good question because, back to that time, we were, like, facing, one of the major, watchmaking crisis. Reginald Ferguson [00:31:36]: And what crisis was that? Romain Vesaphong [00:31:37]: Because I'm unaware. It's yes. It's it was back, 22,016, 17. You know, the exportation of the watches were decreasing from Switzerland, mainly to China, Hong Kong. And from the student point of view, we were every day reading the the news or the actuality about the watchmaking industry. And almost every weeks, we we had very bad news like this brand, firing 100 of employees. And every week, it was it was that kind of very bad news. So, in in that school, students used to be hired before they finished the school. Romain Vesaphong [00:32:43]: And yes. Really? Yes. And, because of that very specific context. Like, 2 years before mine, it was no more the case, and we had to search for a job, to apply for a job. So it was quite stressful. And, well, I I tried. I, I, I applied in, yeah, many, many, boutiques and official retailers in France Because I Yeah. I'm I'm French. Romain Vesaphong [00:33:26]: So I wanted to to to Yes, I wanted to exactly. And I, I tried to, to be close to my family and my friends. But, you know, there was no job, so, I I said, okay. So I have to to try further. So I tried in Luxembourg, and also I applied in Switzerland. And it was very yeah, it's I think it was the the right moments, the right place. And, it was, missus Michel who called me after receiving my, my application, offering me to to do, you know, the, yeah, a job appointment. And, I crossed two countries because my school was in Britannia. Romain Vesaphong [00:34:24]: So it's the opposite part of the France on the west side. So I crossed the whole country, then I arrived in Switzerland, and I moved to, Neuchatel. And then I did my, my, job appointment. And, yeah, I think the the feeling was nice. Also, I was, well, when I applied I applied as as a a watchmaker, but also I, I wanted also to highlight the fact that I was a former banker. So, I was quite confident in dealing with with, yeah, with customers and maybe fortunate people. So there were it was not a problem for me. And, you know, there is a lot of watchmakers who are, maybe a little bit shy or not so confident, just by talking with people. Romain Vesaphong [00:35:47]: It's a kind of stereotype, but it's not totally false. Reginald Ferguson [00:35:52]: Right. There's always stereotype. Romain Vesaphong [00:35:54]: Yes. There's Reginald Ferguson [00:35:55]: a reason that there's a group of people who are, you know, behind the walls at a bench and not and not at the front of the store. Romain Vesaphong [00:36:04]: Exactly. And and display case. Exactly. And I think it's, a reason why people want also to be a watchmaker. And that was also a reason for myself. So sometimes you you want to be alone in your workshop, behind your bench, and you want to be just quiet. Nobody talking with you. You are just you and your watch. Romain Vesaphong [00:36:30]: And many, watchmakers are looking for this and only this. So maybe the fact that I wanted also to to be at the boutique with few summers was, yeah, was interesting for my future employers. Reginald Ferguson [00:36:49]: Sure. I mean, you're you're like a hybrid. I behind the bench wants to be at the display case and talk to customers. Like, who are you? You're a freak. So but you must really be significant because you, my friend, because I did a lot of research, you are highlighted on the Mitchell website with your takes and picks for, for your watches that you, you know, referred to from the Watches and Wonder show. So the point is, how many people are on the watchmaking team? Romain Vesaphong [00:37:38]: On the watchmaking team? I'm Reginald Ferguson [00:37:40]: Watchmaking, watch repair. Romain Vesaphong [00:37:42]: It's you Reginald Ferguson [00:37:42]: and how many other people? Romain Vesaphong [00:37:44]: On the watchmaking side, I'm all alone. Reginald Ferguson [00:37:48]: Oh, you're all alone? Romain Vesaphong [00:37:49]: Yes. Oh. So Okay. Ideal is special though. Because Reginald Ferguson [00:37:56]: it's just you. But the point is, they put you on the website, bro. And we're gonna talk about it a little bit. But clearly, as you can tell, I really am interested in everything, as you say, behind the bench. But they, they showed you love, man. They're like, our our watchmaker, Romaine, has his picks from the Watch and Wonder show. Here they are. So essentially, as we would say here in America, and I know you know this phrase, you gave your hot take, man. Reginald Ferguson [00:38:30]: So I mean, kudos to you. That's really that's really significant. Romain Vesaphong [00:38:35]: Yes. Yes. Reginald Ferguson [00:38:37]: They love you. Romain Vesaphong [00:38:38]: It's a it's a pride for for me to have their search confidence from my, from my boss, from my bosses. And, yeah, it's, it's also something I suggested to them. And because we used to, to discuss every day of watches, And they know I'm very passionate by watches, even if, you know, now I'm behind the bench, so I saw different things. But I still have the, you know, the the sparkle in the eye when I'm right. Reginald Ferguson [00:39:17]: I was gonna you still have the eye. You have the you have the eye for, you know, being a fan. Like, hey. I like that watch. I like that watch. Romain Vesaphong [00:39:24]: Yes. Exactly. I'm still, I'm still a fan. So, this they they like they they like to discuss with me with of this topic or this other topic because I will not be just oh, yeah. This the the new watch and cool. They put titanium. Nice. No, it's wow. Romain Vesaphong [00:39:45]: Why they put titanium? Why why they decided to do this? Oh, did you see that shape? And I I still every day to, to learn things from, the actuality reading, reading, yes, on blogs, some some other fans of watchmaking. You know, sometimes you have, you can learn a lot also from non professional persons because when you are, when you have only your passion as, a main, resource, you will spend twice the energy to get the information. And in the majority of time, you will have a lot of other information, a different point of view. So this is very interesting. And it's not because now I'm a watchmaker, that I will pretend to know everything of, about a Reginald Ferguson [00:40:46]: I'm going to ask you some other questions. But before I do, I wanna get back a little bit in terms of your training versus you being in the store. I have actually called you the Rolex repairman, and and I probably will always call you that now because I just love it. You learned how to work on any watch, let's say, you know, within reason at the school? The point is, specifically with Rolex, and obviously it could carry over for other brands too, do you ever have to go to the Rolex, you know, center, the training center, so to speak, or does a Rolex rep come to you? Like, you know, for some of these brands that Michaud retails, is there just any, you know, type of interaction, you know, with the corporate side of the brands from a technical aspect? Romain Vesaphong [00:41:43]: Well, of course, I went to to Rolex. Because when you are official dealer, like the the the boutique Michel, you have to to get the certification and to to to be able to service the watches. So, of course, Rolex takes in charge everything about the, the watchmakers training because they have their own way to work. But it's very interesting. I I so today, I have the level to repair watches until the last chronograph, the Daytona's. So I can repair any free hands watches, like Oyster Perpetual, they just with the to date. The professional watches like the GMT Master 2, for instance, Explorer 2, and also the Cosmograph Daytona, which are a specific, training. But when I went to Rolex for the first time, it was for 3 weeks. Romain Vesaphong [00:43:16]: And during that 3 weeks, the training was focusing on getting the their philosophy of working. It's very interesting. Philosophy? Their philosophy is, there is no place for, doing stuff. Not perfect stuff. If I can, express like that. You know? But if there is a mistake, they will never say you did the mistake. They will always say, we probably did not teach you correctly. This is very impressive because, you know, I think Rolex is well, it's not I think it's Rolex is the the leader in, in the watchmaking market today. Romain Vesaphong [00:44:15]: And they are not using that title to say we are right. And if there is something wrong, you are wrong. It's not their philosophy. Their philosophy is we are partners. So we are doing things together. And this is very interesting. From a watchmaker point of view, you know, you are never alone. And sometimes, you know, you you are dealing with issues on on a watch on movements or any situation, sometimes with customers or sometimes nothing related to watchmaking. Romain Vesaphong [00:44:55]: And there is always somebody, there to support you. This is very interesting. So during the my training, my first training at at Rolex, it was it was focusing on using their own tools, discovering their procedures, their all their tools, and also to to get, you know, impregnate of their, yeah, their their philosophy, their spirit. And, of course, they control the the quality of your work. And if some things are not, as they would like, they will teach you how to do. They will accompany you to reach the right level of quality. And, and you do this on the movement parts, so on the mechanical aspects, but also on the polishing parts because they developed specific tools, and specific training sessions to be able to, yeah, to maintain the the watch in all of its aspects. So this is very interesting. Romain Vesaphong [00:46:09]: So, of course, because, like you said, I'm the Rolex recruiting guy. I followed some some training sessions at Rolex to to learn how their product work. Also, what are their techniques? What are their philosophy, their procedures, etcetera? And I did it also for, some other brands, which have their their own procedures, their own way to work. But, you know, when you watchmaker at the bench, at the end, if you work cleanly with with precision and being professional and, you know, very careful of the details and the cleanliness of the the movements you are working on, well, it's it's good. Whatever the brand, it's good. Reginald Ferguson [00:47:19]: So that's a wonderful segue. What is the hardest watch you've worked on? What's the easiest watch you've worked on even if it doesn't include Rolex? Romain Vesaphong [00:47:39]: You know, I will begin with maybe with the easiest one. Sure. Because I think Reginald Ferguson [00:47:44]: it's Probably the Romain Vesaphong [00:47:45]: sneak time extra watch Reginald Ferguson [00:47:47]: on my website now. Romain Vesaphong [00:47:50]: Well, the I think the easiest watch I had to repair was probably a Rolex. You know, when when you have it for a service, And the customer was very careful of his watch, and the the polishing is very easy to do because the watch is not very damaged. And because the watch on the external is not very damaged, you can imagine that the inside will be the same. So, generally, it is. And you just, dismantle the watch. You check every parts. Everything is, just neat. You clean it. Romain Vesaphong [00:48:37]: You reassemble. You put it on the chronoscope, on the, yeah, the the the device to to to adjust the time, and you see everything is perfect. This is the easiest watch you you can you can service. And, what is very nice is with Rolex, I think the majority of the watches are in that case, in that, in that situation. So sometimes, yeah, the it's more on the the external parts, you know, the the case, the bracelets we which can be very damaged or used. Okay. But the on the movement side, you know, Rolex, invested so so much energy and, I guess, a lot of money also in research and development. That's the one the one of product is released, it it's working. Romain Vesaphong [00:49:41]: And the Yeah. Every every Yeah. They are very careful of every details on the the production part on the concepting part and production part. So, for for us as watchmaker, it's a pleasure to work on on that kind of, of products. Right. Well, the hardest, the hardest, In your experience. Yeah. Yeah. Romain Vesaphong [00:50:18]: Maybe. No, I think I would separate this one because on the movement that I have, I have to face, I think, like a lot of watchmakers, very tricky situation for movements. But, yeah, I have one in my mind. I had a movement, but well, it was a Rolex, but I spent a lot of time to find what was the problem. I think that watch had a very strong shock. And, you know, the the pivots are rotating inside some jewels. It's that red stones. And one of that stones, and it was the smallest stone had a little, a bridge. Romain Vesaphong [00:51:19]: Is it the right word? You know, on the on the on the hold. But when you dismantle the watch, you look every pivots with, magnifying glass, and you you control everything, the stones, everything, in order that if there is any, tiny problem, you see it and you change, you replace the the the the used or the the the broken parts. But on this one, it was so tiny, and the angle to see it was so difficult. I didn't see it. And I spent, like, maybe 2 days on this watch because I checked every aspect. I was also, I put also the movement under the microscope. So I went very deep. And even on that part, which was, broken on the under the microscope, I didn't see it because it was so tiny. Romain Vesaphong [00:52:34]: And when I moved the movement, I saw a little shine, you know, a reflect and say, oh, is it just a reflect? Or is it something? And by double checking and focusing on this, I found the problem. And, you know, the customer will not pay twice. I just spent twice time, but it's not his problem. But that was so tiny. And, also, because, you know, when when you have the the results, when you have to adjust the time, According to the results you have, the amplitude, also the the positions, you can interpret where, the issue or where the the problem can come. And all my results were, making, me think that the problem had to be, in that precise area. But I was not able to find it, and it was very difficult for me. So that was maybe the the hardest one. Romain Vesaphong [00:53:48]: But when I changed the stone, I put it in then the watch was like, Yeah, I'm yeah, just perfect watch. The the the time adjustment was just perfect, and everything was going nicely. So, yeah, when this happened, you are so happy. Of course. That's cool. Reginald Ferguson [00:54:09]: What is a watch maintenance tip you can give our listeners? So what should everyday man do in terms of the upkeep of his watch? Romain Vesaphong [00:54:18]: So my first tip would be just to to know to understand the value of of their watch and to respect it. When you respect it, you you know that you have something at your wrist. And you will maybe be a little more careful not to knocking it, all day long. Because sometimes I I received I received watches, which are like hammered, but so strongly. And I say, but what did, his owner did with this watch? It's impossible to do it. And, yeah, that's that's my first tip. If you respect your watch and you just take good care, you know, the pieces inside are very tiny, so it's still, fragile. So the more you you taking care of it, the the the the longer it will last. Reginald Ferguson [00:55:27]: So I always like to ask this of my guests. What does the term always be fly mean to you? Romain Vesaphong [00:55:39]: Sorry? Reginald Ferguson [00:55:40]: The It's an expression that I like to use. And the expression is always be fly. And I wanna know what does that expression mean to you? The expression always be fly. What does that mean to you, Romain? Romain Vesaphong [00:55:53]: Always be fly. Well, because I'm not a native English speaker, I have to apologize, but I do not know this expression. Reginald Ferguson [00:56:09]: You're fine. So I assume too much. So to be fly means to dress well. So a term I like to use on the podcast and on Instagram is always be fly. Romain Vesaphong [00:56:25]: Okay. Reginald Ferguson [00:56:26]: So I always like to know of my guests, what does it mean to them? What is their definition of that? Romain Vesaphong [00:56:32]: So for me, you tell me if I'm wrong. But for me, it would be yeah. So for me, it's always being elegant. Being elegant, because being elegant, it's, on both the external aspects on the outfits, you know, you dress well. You put a lot of care of your outfit, the garments, the accessories you will you will decide to wear. But being elegant is also on the very personal part. It's like the value of your soul. I'm quite I I think I'm a bit old school guy, but I like, I like the, all all that aura that emanates from the the old gentleman, you know, the the gentleman from the former century. Romain Vesaphong [00:57:44]: And that guys were always dressed perfectly. And I think they were maybe all almost the same because they were educated to to this. But it was a lot about the manners, You know? So if I can say always be fly, is that correct? It would be be always being always elegant in both your manners, your way of thinking and the way you dress. Reginald Ferguson [00:58:25]: I like it. I think you did really well. Good. Romain Vesaphong [00:58:32]: Happy. Reginald Ferguson [00:58:34]: It really is incredible, the craft of watch repair, The ability to have the patience and skill to work on one element that is less than a millimeter for a whole day is awe inspiring to me. I'm glad that I have enough watches to keep my watch guide in the loop. Romain Vesaphong [00:58:56]: I Reginald Ferguson [00:58:56]: hope you have a guide too. In the meanwhile, make sure your movement is checked on every 5 years. Get it serviced, inspected, and lubricated. Let's keep our watches going until the 2000. Well, that's a wrap. Thank you so much for listening. We hope you had fun and are down for another one. Please tell a friend who could use some fashion help about the podcast or share an episode with them directly. Reginald Ferguson [00:59:28]: If you enjoy the show, please give us a rating and review on Apple Podcast. Lastly, if you constantly struggle putting an outfit together and are looking to turn that confusion into confidence, I'd love to talk about how we can improve your weight. Check me out at nyfashiongreek.com and email me at reg@nyfashion geek.com for a consultation. Special shout outs for our producer, Serge, and everyone down with the Fashion Geek podcast. If you have a story suggestion, you can email me at podcast@nyfashion geek.com or hit me up on the insta@newyorkfashion geek. And remember, always be fly.
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