Polishing watches since 2019, The Watch Polisher (branded as TWP) is an expert in his craft and has been at the forefront of luxury watch repair since day one, quickly becoming synonymous with watch repairs.
Inspired by those who restore watches to a better condition than how they left the factory, TWP first got into the game by polishing Rolex watches from home, with a typical job taking him roughly two days using minimal tools.
When he started polishing watches with very little equipment, Elliot loved it instantly. Now, it’s his full-time business and he’s able to do what he loves day in and day out, working hard and putting the effort in to get it right every time.
To keep up with the demands of his customers and to ensure the top-quality of his work, he decided to invest in quality tooling. When his PUK welder didn’t live up to its promise, it was time to seek out another way, and that’s when Elliot went out and bought the DaDo, an entry-level laser welder at an entry-level price.
In an interview with Freeform Fabrication, TWP opened up about his watch polishing empire and laser welding journey.
What do you think is or was a key contributor to your success?
Consistency is the key to my constant progress. I built an Instagram following by posting every day. I also post pictures before and after repairs because I want potential customers to know what they should expect if they use my service and give them the confidence that I can make their watch shine again. Then they are comfortable with giving me their timepiece, especially when the sentimental value of a watch is worth more than its retail value.
What was the trigger to get a laser welder?
When I first started looking at laser welders, before getting my PUK, I was told by a few people that they’re really expensive, or you need a service contract that costs another £1,000 a year, and I didn’t really see how I could justify the cost of it. But after using my PUK and seeing the many limitations I decided to go for the DaDo.
As soon as I got it, I saw the potential and I was able to make more money. I noticed that I quickly picked up the technique and after having the DaDo for just about a year, I attended Freeform’s DaDo laser welder workshop. That’s where I saw the heavy-duty model, the MegaHIT laser welder, a bigger and a much more capable machine.
I had a go on it, and I immediately knew it was the answer. I loved it and started planning to upgrade. It wasn’t long then until I placed an order and had one delivered to my shop.
How has laser welding changed the way you work?
I wouldn’t be without the camera, and the video recording function. I use it daily to show what can be achieved.
Because I’m able to show what I do, people are openly talking about what they want and are even using the lingo. Prospects say to me, “There might be one or two points on the lugs that need laser welding.” Me and the customers are more in sync.
What’s the most common metal you work on?
Steel. 904L steel wire, specially manufactured. It welds so easy. Before I discovered it, I was having a hard time welding steel. I could do the job, but it would take me longer as it wasn’t welding so seamlessly. Now with the 904L steel and my laser, I get the best results.
What do people ask you and what sort of advice do they need from you?
I get a few messages on how to use the laser welder, especially the DaDo, but I no longer have it and I use a higher spec laser welder. The DaDo works very well with stainless steel but the power settings I use on my machine are different and when enquiries come in asking about power settings, I can’t compare to my Master S welder. The machines are worlds apart.
I put 40,000 shots into a case the other day to fully restore it and my laser didn’t even feel it. It was so easy.
I can help and give advice to a certain extent but because the lasers are so different, it’s hard to compare. You’d never be able to do 40,000 shots on the DaDo in one go as there’s more cooling time between shots, that’s how my work is fast and so seamless.
Do you think there’s a gap in the market for laser welding for watch and jewellery repair or other applications?
Yes. Many people aren’t aware of what laser can do. They might be scared to use it or not realise how quickly they can do a job. There is also a price stigma, they’re so affordable. It’s called an investment for a reason and there is an impressive fast return on your investment.
“I PUT 40,000 SHOTS INTO A CASE THE OTHER DAY TO FULLY RESTORE IT AND MY LASER DIDN’T EVEN FEEL IT. IT WAS SO EASY.”
The laser welder changes the way you do things and the way you approach your work. It’s a different style of work to the extent that it allows me to do a job quicker at a fraction of the price of what Rolex will charge you. At the end of the day me and the customer should be happy and see the value.
The potential is also in servicing, cleaning and polishing watches before re-selling to present them in optimal condition. Some watches you can’t buy new and the only way to go is to polish and renew.
Is laser welding utilised enough in the watch trade?
I don’t see that it is. People are scared to use laser, but only if they gave it a go to find that many skills are transferable from their benchwork, and they can be quite good at it in no time. There are things you just can’t do with the flame or a PUK, especially on sentimental items. Craftsmen who master laser welding have a big advantage in the trade.
You offer a jewellery repair service too. What’s your best customer success story?
A customer brought me some earrings, and literally just said: “My mum gave them to me, but I’ve never worn them, they burn my ears.” I can do these French earring backs that lock onto the back of the ear so they’re secure. I used guardian ear fittings from the US on this job. The longest part of the job was to order them but as soon as they were in, it took me no time at all with the Master S welder.
The earrings were 250 years old and passed through five generations, 24ct gold and jade. I was astonished! There’s me, firing a laser hot light at them, without knowing how old and precious they were. You would never have been able to do that with the flame. They are insanely soft. The backs were ornate, so the laser was essential. It is in focus and doesn’t heat the metal like the flame does. It’s unbelievably accurate, predictable and I can control it fully so it’s safe to use especially for the most delicate and valuable repairs.
In upgrading from DaDo to the big welder, more people started noticing it in my shop and have asked what that is sitting on my bench. It opens up into a conversation; I say it’s a laser welder and people get curious. They want to know what it is good for.
It helps especially with jewellery repairs, so I’d tell them I can adjust and repair jewellery or fill in material to renew watches. In so many occasions, someone has said “Can you repair a chain?”
They either have a chain they’ve wanted to repair for ages, carrying it in their purse or wallet so they don’t lose it, or they’d go home and bring it to me the next day. Nine times out of 10 I repair pieces while they wait, so I hook my laser up to the TV in the waiting room so they can see what I’m doing in real time. There aren’t many places that are so open and offer that around here.
I had a guy come in to change his watch battery. His fiancée came in shortly after as she saw ‘jewellery repairs’ on the sign outside, and asked if I do ring sizing. I said I can do any repair you want. She asked me how long it would take. I said depending on what it is, half an hour.
Her fiancé ran across the road back to the jewellery shop and got her ring back. I’ve never seen a man run so fast! They were quoted six weeks to just have her ring resized!
I had her ring back on her finger before the end of the day and they were both over the moon. They had only just got engaged and obviously wanted to show it off. I like doing things like that for people.