Travelling for me always involves seeking out people who repair watches and clocks. My most recent discovery came in Dubai in November during the superb events of Dubai Watch Week.
Mohammed Irshad Hussain from Mumbai has fixed watches for thirty-two years in his shop on Al Fahidi Street in the Meena Bazaar in Bur Dubai. Because his shop measurers only 3 feet by 12 feet and is crammed with boxes of components, tools and piles of watches Mohammed works standing up.
Friendly and talkative, Mohammed explained that he served his apprenticeship in India – taught by his father and other family members. He continued learning when he came to Dubai.
Now in his early fifties, much of his work consists of replacing batteries and making simple repairs to quartz watches. Mechanical watches also come his way regularly. Several long-standing customers own Rolex, Patek Philippe and Vacheron Constantin watches, some with complications. “They come to me because repairs in the big shops are very expensive and many times the watches must be sent to Switzerland. I cost less and that watch stays here in Dubai with me until it is fixed.”
Every month, he says, working on mechanical watches takes hours of his time. For him, that is the best kind of work, the kind of work watchmakers are trained for and love to do.
He also has a collection of pocket watches and wristwatches. He showed me a Hamilton and a Longines both from the fifties of which he is extremely proud.
I asked why he seemed so happy. He answered: “I love this work. Everyday I do something for someone. People like it when I fix their watches. It is my customers and the watches that keep me happy.