It was a part-time job at Citizen Watches that proved right on time for Blair Shallard and led the Kiwi onto a path toward horology (a maker of clocks or watches).
“I found school easy and because of that I got pushed into a white collar career,” Blair said.
“Law wasn’t really for me … I realised I would much rather spend my time working with my hands.”
It was his workmates at Citizen who told Blair that there was good money in repairing clocks, which ‘piqued’ his interest, so he set about finding out where he could learn and ‘made the leap’.
“There was no official training in New Zealand, in those days you couldn’t do apprenticeships, so I basically had to turn up at the shop a few hours a day a couple of days a week, they taught me how to do various things.
“They said ‘here’s a quick mechanism, take it home, pull it apart and put it back together again. If you can put it back together and it works, you know you’ve got some promise and we’ll teach you’.”
Quick to find out what real repair work at a workshop in West Auckland, Blair went on to learn how to restore antique clocks and handle watches worth upwards of $40,000.
Today, Blair owns his own business, Time Central, in Rotorua, and he’s hoping to take on one of his biggest projects to date, one that’s in much the same vein as the historic tower clock repairs he undertook for Heritage New Zealand in Wellington.
“This is part of the Rotorua Clock Tower and it’s a much bigger clock that the Wellington one, there are four faces on either side of the building and one of the pieces is broken so we need to rebuild it and we need to make parts for that,” Blair said while showing the sizeable mechanic in question.
It’s just one of the many jobs he’s got ticking along at the moment, and despite Covid he’s as busy as ever.
“To do this job, you need a quite rare skill set, you need to think your way out of a problem – every single clock or watch that comes through the door has a problem.”
Just as his business has grown, so has Blair’s interest in alternative payment streams like Qoin.
“I was introduced to Qoin in February by Morgan Wilson, he had a cafe in the same street as my shop and I thought it looked promising,” said Blair.
“Since then, I’ve had a number of inquiries from Australia and we just had three watches go to the post office today. Notwithstanding the fact that I’ve sold a few thousand dollar watches on Qoin recently, we have day-to-day a mix of batteries and minor repairs that we do on Qoin.”
Blair said he asks his customers if they’d like to pay in Qoin at every opportunity. “I usually lead in about the banks being greedy and tell them that you’re in control of your Qoin, you’re not handing the keys to your wallet to a third party to take money from.”
He has admitted that he’s interested in Qoin’s long game, but is actively seeking out trades and services he can spend his Qoin on to help the business offset its costs – it’s a bit like his approach to work.
“I just back myself,” he said.
For more on Time Central check out the website.