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Saturday, May 27, 2017
Southwest Louisiana ,
(Lance Traweek  / American Press)

(Lance Traweek  / American Press)

Vanishing Jobs: Time ticking away on horologists

Last Modified: Sunday, November 18, 2012 10:22 PM

By Lance Traweek / American Press

Sulphur native Derrick Cooper, 46, has made a living repairing watches, but he only owns one watch for himself and it’s broken.

“I don’t have enough time to work on my own,” Cooper said. “And I just don’t like to wear watches.”

But Cooper, 46, has been repairing watches since 1991, and he said there is still a demand for the trade.

His business, “Derrick’s Watch Repair,” has been at its current location, 202 W. Prien Lake Road, for 18 years.

Cooper has been in a wheelchair since his involvement in a car accident in high school.

“I had to find something along with my injury, and I couldn’t go out to the plants and work,” Cooper said.

So, Cooper attended a junior college in Paris, Texas and majored in horology — the study of watch repair.

But he said he learned the most about repairing watches from a two-year apprenticeship in Baton Rouge.

He said it is the type of job that allows him to just work with his hands.

“There is still a big demand,” Cooper said. “I don’t see it dying off but people just don’t want to go into it anymore.”

On any given day he said he fixes from 10-30 watches, depending on how many people stop by.

“It can be from quick fixes to battery replacements,” Cooper said.

He said some of the work can be tedious. “But it’s like everything else — you get used to it,” Cooper said.

The most common thing Cooper does is replace old batteries, but he said he often cleans and re-oils old mechanical watches.

Cooper said the most difficult watch to repair is a chronograph, which is a type of watch that is used as a stopwatch and as a display watch.

Cooper said watches may hold sentimental value for many people, especially if the watches are from a deceased relative or a family heirloom, he said.

“A person may be going through their dad’s things after he’s passed and find an old pocket watch they want repaired,” Cooper said.

He said his job hasn’t changed much over the years, except for newer electronics being inside the watches. “I stay in contact with all the companies with new parts being introduced,” he said.

Many people nowadays use their cell phones to tell the time, but Cooper said he thinks most people will continue wearing watches.

“My favorite aspect of my job is being able to restore something and getting it in working order again,” Cooper said. “I still feel like there is still a need for what I do. Some people will spend $400 on a watch and want it fixed. Something as simple as one of the hands coming loose. It is like a $25 repair. They’ll spend that to get the hand repaired.”

He said it is uncommon for people to send their watches off to the manufacturer to be repaired. He said if the customer sends his or her watch to the company it may take months to repair.

“They would rather come to one place and have it done within a week or so,” Cooper said. “All the stores send people to me.”

Posted By: kevin kuhn On: 11/19/2012

Title: watch repair

i have two fossil watches i bought from dillards. i have been wanting to have them repaired for a while now. every time i took them to dillards they could not repair them. i am going to see this guy and have them repaired. thanks for the article.

Posted By: Catherine Cooper On: 11/19/2012

Title: Derrick's Watch Repair

I'm so Proud of my brother Derrick Cooper. He is the most amazing man!!!!!! Our Paw Paw Wilton Sonnier who is deceased would be so Happy and Proud of his "Hot Shot", that's what he called Derrick. Inspite of his injury he never stopped and kept on going. The work he does is an art and Derrick takes pride in his work!!!

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