My company secured some business with a customer called RUSA. So I go out to do a site visit and low and behold its Rolex USA (in Lititz, PA). The building is beautiful. I get buzzed in through the main gate and go to the entrance in “The Tower”. Before entering I make sure to pull my jacket cuff up just enough to expose my watch (my Sub 5513) hoping to start a conversation. I typically cover up my watch so as to not draw attention/protect it. I get buzzed in to meet the maintenance manager. We say hello and he instantly notices my watch, he's talking to me by looking at my wrist.
He then comments, “and I see your a customer of ours as well”
Indeed I am. I ask if they give tours of the location, understanding if they dont due to Covid protocols. We dont give tours at all, he tells me. BUT if you want I can give you the nickel tour being a customer and contractor and all.
We go through several key-card secured doors and he shows me through the entire building from the watch making school on the bottom floor to the repair department on the 2nd floor. It was absolutely amazing, I dont have the words, I was in awe. All of the equipment, the sonic cleaning machines, the pressure testing devices, micro belt sanders, lathes, almost every piece of machinery in there is custom made for Rolex, by Rolex. Every piece of high end equipment is branded. All the art on the walls is Rolex-centric. We walk through the repair department and there are about 30 work stations, all immaculately clean with numerous watches in various stages of repair. Gold and silver bracelets hang from special racks. Every drawer and bin was labeled with things like “Air King Holder” and “Sea Dweller part I never heard of” Its exactly how I imagined it would look. He shows me where the watches come in for their initial assessment then they are sent to the general repair/overhaul/cleaning side. If its something complex its sent to the other side where the advanced technicians/watchmakers handle it. We stop and talk to one of the head repair guys, Jose. On his work station are several small plastic bags which contain movement parts smaller than a grain of rice. We talk about my watch, which was badly damaged many years ago and they brought it back to life in 2018. My only complaint was that the 12 o'clock marker on my bezel fell out a few years ago. The technician looks at it, goes over to a neighboring station and asks the guy for an “old style” piece. He pops my bezel off like he's done it a thousand times before, digs out the old damaged tritium marker, and replaces it with a new one, puts it all back together in under 5 minutes and hands it back to me, there you go, free of charge (are you kidding me! my AD quoted me 8 weeks and $400). At this point i'm trying not to cry. Ive got to try to remain cool, calm and collected. We briefly talk about his stainless steel Daytona hes wearing and the repair he did on Paul Newmans stuntman's watch that was destroyed in a fire (complete with pictures). My watch is used and we both agree that these watches are meant to be worn, he tells me what I already know, that they're durable as hell. We poke fun at the people who never wear their watches and keep them in a safe. I thank him profusely, we fist bump and I let him get back to work. We then continue my tour of the building, I'm floating at this point, in a daze. Everyone there has a Rolex on and a jewelers loup around their head, pushed up over one eye. My tour guide tells me the company gives you one after 10 years. He got a GMT Master ii, he wanted a Daytona but they didn't have any that he liked available. The whole thing was very surreal, the tour lasted about 30-40 minutes. We get in a secure elevator, go down to the ground floor, walk past the kitchen/cafetaeria (glazed ham with green beans is what's for lunch) and back out to the front lobby. I exit the building and go back to my truck. Then I started thinking of all the questions I should have asked but didn't. All well, hopefully next time, I'll be taking special care of this customer as they've taken care of me.
Edit. I did manage to take 1 picture. https://imgur.com/QC1bzlr.jpg
This is my watch on the table during the repair. I managed to take it, then the tour guide gentle told me no more. Better to seek forgiveness then ask permission
Edit. Wow thank you everyone for all the awards. A few people asked about my watch. It's a 1971 Sub that I inherited from my dad. It was badly damaged in 1978 when he perished in a helicopter crash. He was USAF pararescue. It sat in a drawer untill 2017 when I finally sent it off to Rolex for repair.