Skip to content

Healthy Tickers Last Longer – with Ryan Fox of Tick Tock Time Repair

Tick Tock Time Repair

Watch and Clock repair shop is located at the SE corner of Pines and Broadway in Spokane Valley.

Ryan Fox watchmaker 1

As we started our conversation with the owners of Tick Tock Time Repair, exactly at 9 am the Zoom room on their side started to fill up with a tremendous amount of different clock bells going off. During our conversation we could not help but notice tick tock counting our time spent in an enlightening conversation. What an amazing store.

Ryan Fox and his family members have owned the store since 2013, and this was his life’s destiny. His relative Charley (shop manager) recounts how intuitive Ryan was as a child. “When he was a kid, six years old, I was cleaning a refrigerator and had taken all the shelves out of it. I was on the phone and saw him figuring out size and depth and all the shelfs to put all back together. At that time, I knew he had some talent. And he just has the gift of looking at mechanics. Not everybody has that. And those who have, they’re serving humanity with their gifts. When you use your talent to help people, Karma comes back and helps take care of you with more business, nice customers, people who really care about their timepieces.”

One of the most highly certified watchmakers in the US

Ryan Fox watchmaker 4

First, Ryan got an appliance repair job in college, repairing vacuums and microwaves. Later, at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah, he took classes in four different majors. This led him to his future career. 

As he explains, “Mechanical Engineering classes particularly began to point me in a new direction. So, I eventually thought of repairing clocks and watches. To become a watchmaker, I graduated from the Watch Technology Institute in Seattle as the top student of my class and attained three watch certifications: CW21 (Certified Watchmaker of the 21st Century), SAWTA (Swiss American Watchmakers Training Alliance), and WOSTEP (Watchmakers of Switzerland Training Educational Program)”

Charley elaborates on why Ryan’s qualification is that unique. “In the 1970s there were about 30,000 watchmakers, today only around 2000 and about 25-30 graduating each year. Very few have all three professional watchmakers certifications, the way Ryan does. Less than 3% of American Watchmakers have achieved it. And even fewer trained and certified craftsmen work on both clocks and watches today.”

Willing to take on challenges

Ryan Fox watchmaker 3

Ryan particularly enjoys the problem-solving aspect of his work. Clocks and watches get redesigned by the manufacturer many times, and designs in different countries vary, so he must work with solving technical problems and get creative with repairs. He explains “I love analyzing things and can visualize how mechanical objects work without having to see them actually move. I take the time to get to know every clock or watch and let it “talk” to me. I try to understand the personality and uniqueness of each timepiece. Only after this, the repair work begins.”

Once they took on a very challenging clock. It had an older specialized design to manage the main spring. And this particular clock took them years to get everything coordinated. They actually had to have a few pieces manufactured. They seldom send work out, but in this case, they needed specialized knowledge and unique equipment that they didn’t have. And there’s only a few people in the US that specialize in intricate wheels for watches and clocks. They’re finishing it up now after three years, working on it and experimenting. It’s been a real challenge.

Charley explains how this came about, “The owner of this clock, an older gentleman, lives down in Kennewick Washington, and their watchmakers passed away and this is how we ended up taking this challenge on. Word of mouth is spreading about the shop and is bringing in a variety of service and repair jobs for clocks and watches from Montana and down from Canada. But we mainly work locally in the Spokane area.”

They tackle sentimental projects

Ryan Fox watchmaker 2

Ryan tells the story of a special clock. “We did have an antique grandfather clock that had a hand painted dial with the numbers. It was a farmer out in Central Washington that brought it to us. A lot of times people hold on to their watches for 30 years. When they come in and don’t know if it’s gonna run, I’m able to open it up, do my routine of spot oiling and getting the dust blown out, demagnetizing it, checking the circuit board, and I usually get it running.”

“A lot of the repairs are sentimental. We’ve heard people get a watch when they graduate from high school, and they’ve kept it and we help them get it running again.”

Detective work and basic projects

When customers bring in a pocket watch, they do an inspection and reporting. They are able to detect the year of manufacture, if it has been serviced in the past by other watchmakers, unique characteristics of the movement, any obvious damage or repairs needed, quality of the movement and other interesting facts. They also do battery replacements, band sizing, minor clock case repair and touch-up. A watch overhaul includes cleaning, oiling, adjusting, testing for water resistance if applicable, replacing gaskets, and replacing damaged or worn parts if necessary.

As Charley explains, many people think they know how to change a battery. “But a lot of times, we see these latches come in where they’ve been damaged, ever so slightly across a circuit board, and then Ryan has to fix it. It’s easier to repair when the clock stops, and people ignore it and bring it as is. That’s good for us because everything was done naturally. These cases are easier to solve than when people try to fix clocks themselves.”

Ryan Fox watchmaker 5

Quality of watches

According to Ryan, better quality watches keep better time. Timepieces regularly maintained by a professional keep it even better. If a mechanical watch has a 99.9% accuracy, then on day 11 it will be 6 minutes off. Watches that are at 99.998% accuracy (the highest % that only a few watch companies will certify) will only be a few seconds off on day 11.

He says that currently Japan and the Swiss are trying to make the best watches. There are a lot of inexpensive watches coming out of China. “There’s more plastic in a watch now but you generally get what you pay for. Small clocks with plastic parts would cost more to repair than buying a new one. We encourage customers to ‘treat’ themselves and buy a new clock. Sometimes we are brought knockoffs and fake Omega or Rolex. But we don’t repair the fake watches. These types of watches are a fraud and harm the true value of high quality watches.”