Watchmaker calls time

SIMON EDWARDS
Last updated 15:00 16/11/2012
watchmaker
SIMON EDWARDS / Hutt News
Time's up: Trays of cogs and ticking time pieces will soon be things of the past for watchmaker Leif Berglund. He closes his shop in Moera for the last time today, and is going home to Sweden.

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Thirty five years ago watchmaker Leif Berglund wanted a change from his native Sweden and ''couldn't think of anywhere further away than New Zealand''.

Today he closes the door on his Time Centre shop in Moera for the last time and is heading home again to retire.

''I've got family over there - kids and grandkids, a brother and sister.''

Mr Berglund says he has enjoyed New Zealand as a ''quiet and easy'' country, and one where in years past he indulged a love of yachting.

After working for others he set up his own shop on the Whites Line East side of the Moera railway ramp before opening the current store in Randwick Rd ''many, many'' more years ago than he cares to remember.

Trade has been quiet but reasonably steady, he says - about the same as it was in the 1990s.

Watchmakers are a rare breed now.  Mr Berglund trained in Sweden but says ''way, way back'' there was a training school in Alicetown, Lower Hutt.

Now anyone who wants to learn the skills of fixing watches and clocks has to go to Australia or further afield.

He says he's the second-to-last qualified watch and clock repairer running a business in Lower Hutt and the other - ''an old bugger like me'' - is also closing shop.

Roy Williams, who runs Wideberg Watchmakers in Waterloo, confirms that is right.  

He'll shut the doors on his store next year, though he may continue doing repairs from his home in Otaki.

Mr Williams says he started in the trade in the 1960s working for John Ainsworth.  

After moving to live in Scotland for 12 years, when he came back to Lower Hutt in 1988 there were seven or eight watchmakers working in the city.   

They've all gone now, victims of an era in which modern clocks and time pieces might be thrown away rather than repaired.

He purchased his current business from Hans Wideberg, the watchmaker who brought originally Mr Berglund out from Sweden.

Stepping inside Williams' and Berglund's shops, with grandfather and mantle clocks ticking and chiming, reminds visitors of a different era.  But time marches on.

Time's up: Trays of cogs and ticking time pieces will soon be things of the past for watchmaker Leif Berglund.  He closes his shop in Moera for the last time today, and is going home to Sweden.

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- Hutt News

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