In the news...
Newspaper article from the Kokomo Perspective, Sept. 17, 2008
Watch & Learn
Palmer’s gears up for increased business with Kokomo Watch Co.
By Lisa Fipps
Adam Parrish doesn’t have a lot of time on his hands, but he does have a lot of time in his hands.
He's one of three watchmakers at Palmer's Jewelry who have studied horology, the art and science of timekeeping
Parrish works with watch pieces so tiny that he has to wear a loupe, or magnifier, to see them.
Even with the loupe, he has to get so close to his work that his nose nearly touches the green bench mat atop his
workbench. Illuminated by a task light, the workbench is topped with some of his most-used tools, including
tweezers and screwdrivers of various sizes, oil and grease cups smaller than a contact lens holder, lubrication
needles, and pith wood buttons used to hold small parts while Parrish works and to clean small tools that are
poked into it.
"No watchmaker has ever looked for a part on the floor," jokes fellow watchmaker Jerry Martin.
"It's not a floor; it's a big bench," quips Parrish.
Technically, Parrish is cleaning the watch. Cleaning seems like too simple of a word to describe the list of about
150 steps the watchmaker takes with each timepiece.
Parrish and Laurence Blanchard, a fellow watchmaker at Palmer's, explained that each watch is dismantled; all
parts are cleaned ultrasonically in a solution before each part is inspected for wear, tested, repaired or replaced as
needed, and then lubricated as needed before the horologist reassembles the watch and seals the case.
Nearly finished cleaning a Rolex, Parrish inserts the case, minus its cover, into a watch timer; a microphone picks
up the sound of every tick, allowing him to calculate if he needs to make an adjustment, and how much
adjustment, to ensure it keeps perfect time.
While Parrish or one of the other watchmakers or watch technician Scott Gill cleans a watch, jeweler Joe Minor in
the Metals Department polishes and restores the band and case.
"I make 'em look pretty," Minor jokes as he polishes a band.
Different buffing wheels are used depending on the finish. If a band has a number of finishes, one part is masked
off at a time.
In addition to the basic tools of the horology trade, watch manufacturers, such as Rolex, create special tools that
Parrish and the others at Palmer's must use when cleaning the various watches. The manufacturers also send the
horologists to classes regularly so they can hone their skills.
Certificates from Gem City School of Horology and the American Watchmakers-Clockmakers Institute Inc. hang
from the wall in the Kokomo Watch Co., the name for the department inside Palmer's.
"Two years in school and a lifetime of on-the-job training," Parrish said of what it takes to be a horologist.
"Watches haven't changed in 200 years, but the technology behind them has. Continuing education is a big part
of being a watchmaker."
"To say that we work on watches from all around the country is pretty safe," Parrish said. "Back here, it's always
busy. We've always got stuff waiting."
Gill pointed out that with Parrish's leadership, the Kokomo Watch Co. is a world-class service center recently
collaborating with a large internet retailer, increasing the amount of work Palmer's does, and the department is
seeking even more clients.
"Those are the kinds of relationships we're trying to foster," Gill said. Because of that, Palmer's watch-making
department is becoming a go-to place for stores and manufacturers.
That's why Blanchard was recruited to work at Palmer's. After getting his start with Elgin Watchmakers College,
Blanchard has been a horologist for 54 years, earning the title of a certified master watchmaker, one of 13 in the
country. He taught watch- and clock-making at Gem City and is a charter member of the American Watchmakers-