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Watch Repair, A Thai Option

Michael Babcock, December 15th, 2011

On Sukhumvit Road, just before Soi 55 (Thong Lo, pronounced Tawng Law) there used to be a a very Thai option for getting your watch repaired – a street vendor. Although he was not there this past February (2020), I’m going to leave this blog up because in many neighborhoods stalls such as this are still part of Thai life.

This is one of the nice things about Thailand: you can find entrepreneurs of all types on the street, including tailors who set up with a sewing machine right on the street, and shoe repair. Last year I had the soles of $180 pair of shoes repaired for about $10.00 – a real bargain.

Watch Repairman

Thong Lo watch repairman

"Shop" Front

Front of watch repair stall

(Click images to see larger version.)

I don’t know the name of this watch repairman. He has been in the same location since I’ve been coming to Thailand beginning in the fall of 1992. If you’re not looking for him, you might miss him, nestled as he is in a little niche among the storefronts and street vendors. I’m including a number of different photos of the street to give you an idea of where to find him. The picture below (to the left) is perhaps the most useful: look for him right by the sign for the Grand Tower Inn. He’s actually situated right by a little alleyway (in between Sukhumvit Sois 53 & 55) that leads to the Grand Tower.

Street Scene

View from watch repair stall

Street View 2

Can you see the vendor?

Over the years, we’ve had a number of repairs done by him including several watchbands replaced, new batteries and stopped watches repaired. For simple things, he’ll do the repair right on the spot as you wait. For repairing the workings of the watch, you leave the watch and return in a few hours.

One of the main advantages of street-side repair of any kind is the cost. I don’t remember specific baht prices of our watch repairs, but I can recall being pleased with how inexpensive they were. Batteries, for instance, cost a fraction of what I’d pay for them back in Oakland, California. Without the overhead of the storefront he can keep costs down; I suspect that he does pay some kind of a rental fee to someone, probably the store he is directly in front of.

Sign & Vendor

Now you see him

Watch Repair Stall

Here's the watch repair stall

This is another reason I love Thailand: although much of Thailand is sophisticated and modern, you can still find these sorts of vendors eeking out a living on the street. It makes for a lively, exciting place to be.

Written by Michael Babcock, December, 2011 & May, 2020

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