Sweeney has operated the watch and clock repair shop at 3705 Washington Road since 1987. He repairs grandfather, mantle and wall clocks, as well as antique and quartz watches. He even makes service calls for grandfather clocks.
“We do about half and half, watch and clock repair,” Sweeney said. “We’re pretty busy. This business is mostly sentimental value. We have a lot of people that bring stuff in that has been handed down to them for two and three generations, so they want to keep it fixed and pass it on down to their kids.”
There’s not a lot of competition locally because watch and clock repair isn’t a skill that is typically taught in school. Sweeney has one employee who answers the phone and is learning the trade from him.
Sweeney’s father, George Sweeney, who started repairing watches and clocks when he was 13 years old, first opened the business on Ninth Street in 1965. David Sweeney came to work for his father in 1979 when the construction industry became slow and he was in-between jobs. His father taught him everything that he knew.
“I had been around it all my life, so I had a general idea how to do it. But I had never really worked on a watch until he showed me how to take it apart, clean it and put it together. Then, he let me do it. I caught on pretty quickly,” Sweeney said.
Even today, Sweeney said there’s something new to learn, and he sometimes encounters repairs that he’s never seen before. He can usually repair a clock in a few days, but it can take up to a few months if he has to order parts or make parts that can no longer be ordered, he said.
Sweeney’s Watch & Clock Repair moved to Washington Road in 1987 because business became slow downtown after the malls came to town. The father and son duo thought business would be better on Washington Road. Sweeney’s father passed away six months after the move.
Learning the business side of things wasn’t difficult, however. Everything just fell in place, Sweeney said.
Sweeney isn’t planning to retire soon, and even when he does, he will probably continue making repairs from home part-time.