The Men of Industrial Watch Works

©2003 Walter Allan Manning

Preface

In February 2003, I had the opportunity to meet with the men of IWW.  I had some business meetings at my company's headquarters, which is based in Cary, NC - which also happens to be where IWW's PO Box address is located.  I fired off an email to Jack Alexyon, we chatted about when/where, and a meeting was set for Newton's - a well known pub in the area.

My hope at the time, in addition to meeting these legendary men behind the business, was to create a fancy exposť as an entree into the world of "e-journalism" as Jack eloquently put it.   Unfortunately, I've been so busy with actual work and somewhat overwhelmed by my desire to create an "amazing" literary piece, that I've ended up creating nothing.  After an extended period of inactivity, I figured it better to create something and share my very positive experiences with the rest of the online watch community - that's really the point of it, after all.  So, here it is...

Industrial Watch Works

As I mentioned, we met at a local pub named "Newton's"...a run of the mill joint, big screen TVs, a smoky bar, booths with patrons savoring the local fare of pulled pork and other Southern delicacies.  Didn't take long to figure out that we were the only people looking for someone we'd never met before, so we said "Hey!" and starting shooting the breeze from there.

Jack's a real knowledgeable watch nut, has an infectious laugh, and seems well traveled.  He knows alot about watches, their place in history, as well as how they work - a real Renaissance man.  He had a few very nice pieces with him...as I recall, he was wearing a Benrus Type-II on a Bund-strap, and a couple other pieces in a small case.  Very cool stuff.  We talked about the business, his interests in watches, and how he got started.  After a drink, Jack offered to show me the IWW shop to which I eagerly agreed.

We headed out, and after perhaps a 20 minute commute, pulled up to the shop.  Here I had the opportunity to meet the other half of the IWW enterprise, Matthew Todd.  The thing that jumped to mind when meeting Matt is, "gee, he's pretty young to be fixing watch movements."  I always picture a watchmaker as a gruff old man, with a loupe firmly planted in one eye as he barks out disparaging comments in German about the unworthy piece of horological crap you've placed on his workbench.  Not Matt - he's well spoken, very reserved - the sorts of traits you desire in a watchmaker - and very young.  But don't let his youth fool you - as we've seen from the many satisfied IWW customers, Matt is skillful beyond his years.

The shop itself is well done, if modest.  As you can see from the pictures, it's very well lit, as one would expect, and has all of the tools and resources needed to effectively carry out IWW's mission:  executing masterful horological restorations and custom fabrications.  On one wall was the work-in-progress chart, but I get the sense that the actual work-in-progress was actually double what appeared on the wall - business is indeed brisk!

Standing around talking watches, with Matt's brother making it an even four watch-nuts, it was a very casual atmosphere with everyone speaking freely.  In the real world, Jack runs a very successful restaurant and is also into knives and assorted manly stuff.  Matt learned watchmaking as an apprentice at a local shop, is currently working his way thru school, and hopes of one day starting his own watchmaking business with his brother:  Todd Brothers Atelier.  And of course, the subject of watches always at hand, it came time to take a look at the extensive personal collections these guys have!  Jack's horological tastes tend toward vintage divers, although he does have several very interesting non-diver pieces. Whereas Matt has broader taste in watches.  In addition, Matt's brother has a vintage Omega Speedy. I've lumped all of the watch pictures together below, with most being Jack's. To keep this interesting, I'll leave it up to you to ferret out which pieces are Jack's and which are Matt's.

In all, having the opportunity to meet these guys was a fabulous experience.  If you're interested in getting work done by IWW, fear not:  they're serious about their work, are skillful in execution, and just plain love watches!

Click here to visit the Industrial Watch Works website

The Industrial Watch Works collection


Jack (left), Walter (center), Matt (right)