“People really like watches because they are accessories,” says Oleg Sulimov. “These are accessories for gentlemen, like a tie.”
“I’ve loved watches my whole life,” said Oleg Sulimov, owner of Timekeeper Watch Service at 19 Winchester St. “And I decided to collect and restore them.”
Coming from war-torn Ukraine in Eastern Europe last year, Mr Sulimov, 39, opened the store in August.
He repairs and maintains all brands of mechanical and digital watches – new and old – and clocks. In addition to the assembly and replacement of parts, it provides basic maintenance such as cleaning and lubrication.
“If you break it, I’ll fix it,” said Sulimov, who hopes eventually to move his wife and two children from Ukraine to Fauquier as the business grows.
For at least two reasons, Warrenton seemed like the right place to start a watch repair service, he said.
Fauquier did not have such a service, and he could stay with his mother and stepfather, who live near the city, until he could establish the business and afford housing for himself, Mr Sulimov said.
While Northern Virginia and Washington have many watch repair companies, “they’re not suitable for customers here,” he said. “From Warrenton to Northern Virginia, it’s a really big drive. “
After six months of activity, Mr. Sulimov has an average of one client per day.
“Not too bad,” he said.
But, Mr Sulimov wants six to 10 clients a day – a number he says can be reached through advertising and a website.
His site should be finished in about two weeks.
Repair costs vary depending on the type, age, complexity and condition of a watch, which can have anywhere from 150 to 350 parts, he explained.
“I spend a lot of time looking for parts,” said Sulimov, who has 10 years of experience in his trade. “Sometimes I make parts because you can’t order them. “
Although he gives customers estimates, he can’t always charge them true labor costs when faced with particularly difficult work.
“Sometimes I work with a part 50 times,” Mr. Sulimov said with a smile. “Maybe five, six hours. That’s my problem.”
He recently repaired an OMEGA Seamaster for Tab Vollrath, a Carr & Hyde Insurance agent in Warrenton.
“It needed a complete overhaul,” Vollrath said of the 16-year-old Swiss-made watch. “It started to buy time. So it went fast. I parked it in a drawer for two years.
He heard about the timing service from a friend, who had been satisfied with Mr. Sulimov’s work.
“I walked in and we talked,” Mr. Vollrath recalls. “You could immediately tell he knew what he was doing. “
It cost $ 250 to repair his OMEGA, about half of what the manufacturer would have charged, Vollrath said.
Mr Sulimov did a “fantastic” job, he said. “He went above and beyond. “
Despite the growing dependence on smart phones and other digital devices that tell the time, Sulimov is confident that watches and clocks will remain popular and essential, thus ensuring his livelihood.
For practical and aesthetic reasons, he believes that timepieces will never become obsolete.
“When the battery (of the cell phone) is dead, what do you do? He said, pointing to his wristwatch.
“When you watch the movies, do you turn off the phone and want some time?” “
Once again, Mr. Sulimov glanced at his wristwatch.
“People really love watches because they are accessories,” he said. “These are accessories for gentlemen, like a tie.
“My mom has maybe nine watches – for the everyday watch, for the dress watch, for the hand watch.”
Along with walk-in shoppers, word-of-mouth and his website, Sulimov hopes to gain clients through referrals from local jewelers and stores that sell jewelry.
Hartman Jewelers at 36 Main Street, for example, sent three customers to his store for repair work, he said.
The jewelry store and its service provider handle most of the repairs to customers’ watches – 300 to 500 a year, owner David Hartman said.
But, the store “occasionally” sends customers to companies like Timekeeper when its technician isn’t managing a particular brand or because of time constraints, Hartman said.
Timekeeper provides a valuable service and a reason for people to spend locally, he said.
“I think it’s a good idea to give people one more reason to shop in Warrenton,” Hartman said. “The more reasons we have for people to come here, the better it is for everyone.”
Mr. Sulimov first visited America in 2014. His mother had already lived there for about 13 years.
This month-long stay convinced him that he was going to start a business here and move his family as quickly as possible from Ukraine.
“I needed to try a new life,” Mr. Sulimov said. “New life, new country. This is my dream.”