Clever Filipinos are the retiree’s best friend. Watch repair in Iloilo.

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Watch repair in Iloilo.  One of the benefits of retirement in the Philippines is that when your gadgets need repair, they can be repaired rather than replaced.  Here’s one example.  We have an Asus RT16N wireless router.  It was not a cheap router so I was pretty annoyed when it died an early death.  I did a little on-line research and found that a specific capacitor was failing in these Asus units.  I asked around in our small Philippine town and was told that there was a guy who repaired electronics who had a shop over the local feed store.


Poultry supply and electronics repair in Tigbauan, Iloilo, Philippines


I went into the feed store, wending my way through the sacks of pig and chicken feed and found a worker.  Because I was carrying the router he could guess I wanted the electronics guy so he shouted up to him.  He came down and we managed to communicate about the capacitor which was bad.  I picked up the router two days later.  I paid the requested P150 (about $3.75) for the capacitor and labor and the router has worked fine ever since.  Money saved about $100.

Later something came over me and I bought a Victorinox Swiss Army wrist watch on eBay.  It was advertised as new but I’m pretty sure it was used.  The battery went bad pretty quickly and I decided that I could replace the battery myself.  I opened the screwed-on back.  The exterior of the back is proudly marked “Swiss Made”.  Stamped on the inside of the case back is “China case”.  The cases and other parts can be made in China as long as the movement is Swiss made and the watch assembled in Switzerland.  Anyway, I made a complete mess of the battery replacement.  The movement fell out and took the hands off as it came out.  I tried to put it back together but only ended up bending the hands.  I knew I needed expert help.   If I was at home in the U.S., I might have just had to give up on the watch.  However, I went into to Iloilo City and was going to take the watch to one of the fancy jewelry stores at the biggest mall in town to see if they could fix it.  Since I got to the city early, the malls were not open yet, so I went to a street in the old part of the city known for watch and jewelry shops.

On the outside "Swiss Made" is embossed.

On the outside “Swiss Made” is embossed.

But on the inside "China Case"

But on the inside “China Case”

In many Asian cities, certain streets or areas are known for certain types of businesses.  In Iloilo, Guanco Street is known for lock and key street artisans and for watch and jewelry repair.  While waiting or the malls to open so I could go to a “professional” jewelry store, I asked around about watch repair shops.  I was directed to the “Jun Casanova Jewelry Repair Shop”.  I found the place and saw that it seemed to have tools for watch repair, not just battery replacement.  I showed my sad Victorinox, with the hands rattling around behind the crystal.  The young man said he could repair it.

I watched nervously as my Victorinox was dissected.

I watched nervously as my Victorinox was dissected.

I watched like a nervous hen while he disassembled the watch.  My confidence grew.  He removed the movement and the hands and carefully straightened the hands I had bent and reattached them.  He reassembled the watch, installing a new Sony silver oxide battery.  The total bill,  P350 ($8),  including the battery.  The watch looked and worked like new, in other words, as it had before I buggered it up.  I was thrilled and thankful and let the young man know how pleased I was.  My own experience with ordinary Filipinos is that they are not especially greedy.  Being treated with respect and appreciation counts for as much as money.  The most important part of these interactions are not about money.  There are relatively few foreigners living in Iloilo.  The workers may have never done business with a foreigner so these are opportunities to learn about each other.  I almost always come away from these experiences thankful that I live in the Philippines and live amongst Filipinos.

watch repair2

You’ll find Jun Casanova’s shop on Guanco Street, not far from the Iloilo Public Market.

Comments (5) Write a comment

  1. I wish the US would be a little more like this, my folks recently got their treadmill motor repaired very easily, as well as their small generator repaired, all very reasonably priced in aklan. similar repairs in the US make it unattractive to repair vs just replace, which is so frustrating, they just don’t make things like they used to 🙂


  2. Reminds me of the time I had an engagement ring resized by a most talented young goldsmith working from a small streetside booth. He did a terrific job and even gave me the tiny piece of gold left over in a little zip-lock bag when done.

    On another occasion, however, I paid over fifty dollars, waited two weeks, and had a digital camera repaired. It was broken again after just a few shots. Should have bought a new one and would have appreciated knowing it was a loss.


  3. Great experience Bob. True, many Ilonggo’s are good. With watch repair, you are lucky to find an honest man. But, just the same, be careful with expensive items you own. Seiko and Rolex are popular in Iloilo and the Philippines. If you own one of this find a jewelry store, safer that way.
    I am an Ilonggo, and I have bad experience with my wife’s Seiko watch a gift from her aunt during college graduation – I left it overnight with a repair man whose stall is in front of (Valeria St.) Shoe Mart, (my stupid and trusting nature) it was stolen. My experience, lessons for others.

    In general, thank you for trusting my people, but remember a few of us, maybe, were rotten inside.
    The Mayor of Iloilo appears to be good. Leadership by example. GOOD Leadership, inspires people.



    • Rodolfo, one thing I will never have to worry about is getting a Rolex repaired!


  4. All Filipino are what I call Old School. They can take anything and make something out of it, or repair it. Anyone who rode in a tricycle maybe have noticed the brake system, a piece of rubber tire rubbing against the read wheel.


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