A Visit to A Moment in Time Is Time Well Spent

July 25, 2010
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Nick Stone, owner of A Moment in Time, ticks on through the recession.

Nick Stone, owner of A Moment in Time, ticks on through the recession.

Hear the name, Nick Stone, and immediately, you think private investigator, like maybe Philip Marlowe in a Raymond Chandler novel.

And while La Verne’s Nick Stone is a detective all right, he doesn’t solve murder mysteries. Rather, he’s on the case trying to detect why your watch doesn’t work.

Since 1996, people in town have been bringing Nick their broken Seiko, Timex, Pulsar, Bulova, Omega, Cartier and Gucci time pieces, to name just a few, to get them ticking, purring and working again.

In his dexterous hands, he keeps his customers on time by replacing their watches’ spent batteries, scratched crystals, stripped crowns and broken bands. He can repair watches that keep time by water, sand, self-wind or battery.

He is the son of a Turkish watchmaker who was in the business for 50 years. Nick has been in the business for 20 years, not counting the years he was at his father’s side learning the craft.

Nick’s favorite cases involve restoring vintage and high-end clocks and watches.

“You have to have a lot of patience,” he said from inside his 300-square-foot shop. “The day you run out of patience is the day you need to retire.”

Nick never charges to give an estimate.

“If parts are available, we can give an estimate,” Nick said. “Then it’s up to the customer to go ahead.”

Many times, customers won’t know what a watch his worth. Perhaps, it’s a family heirloom that’s been handed down. The residual value of the broken timepiece often will dictate the decision to repair the watch or not.

The fact that there are literally thousands of different watch brands on the market doesn’t seem to faze Nick.

First he calls the manufacturer to find out whether a part is still available. If the original manufacturer is out of business, he, like any good detective, calls his longtime contacts to help him locate hard-to-find parts. Some companies also reproduce vintage parts.

While Nick is a master watch repairman, his business timing might be a decade or two off. The simple fact is people aren’t wearing watches the way they once did. To find out what time it is, they’re more likely to glance at their cell phone than their wrist.

“The way people look at time is changing,” he said. “It has changed drastically, but we’re still holding on, although it’s a challenge to be in the business anymore.”

His loyal customers – people who still appreciate the elegance and classic tradition of wearing or using a timepiece – are adding valuable minutes, hours, days and years to his endangered trade.

A Moment in Time is open Tuesday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

A Moment in Time is open Tuesday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.


The way people literally view time isn’t the only trend taking a slice out of his business. The other big culprit is the recession. “All the markets went down all of a sudden,” he said. “It’s not only the watches, it’s in general. Other than that, we were doing fine.”

He hopes there will be an uptick in the economy. He certainly has plenty of different models and makes of watches for that moment, whether that moment in time, the name of his shop, is today, tomorrow or two years from now.

“I deal with four major brands: Seiko, Citizen Bel Air and Casio,” he said.

He is also an authorized dealer for the Howard Miller Clock Company. One of the company’s large clocks greets customers upon entering his shop. Prices range from $2,000 to $17,000.

At the same time, Nick can tell you if that timepiece you purchased at a swap meet or while walking off the boat of your last luxury cruise is really the bargain you think it is.

“They’re only good for a month or so,” Nick said. “You get what you pay for.”

Most of the knock-offs are made in China.

“China has no real knowledge of making things right,” said Nick, who wears a Seiko. “They’re just good for copying. Whatever they see, they copy immediately. They don’t care whether it’s good or better; they just want to put them in the market.”

Nick, however, cares. He’s the genuine article. Time is important to him, and his customer’s time is important to him.

“We’ve been proudly serving La Verne since 1996,” he said. “I’m proud to say La Verne is one of the best cities in L.A. County, and it’s one of the nicest and most beautiful cities I’ve seen. The people are very nice, and I’m just glad to be part of it.

With that kind of attitude, time definitely appears to be on Nick’s side.

A Moment in Time, open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, is located at 2334 D Street in La Verne. The store phone is (909) 593-5776. His cell is (909) 641-5994.

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