The Repair Shop guest emotional about restored doll
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During a classic episode of the BBC’s Repair Shop, host Jay Blades and Steve Fletcher welcomed Ron and his wife Toos to the barn, who had travelled over 300 miles in search of Steve’s expertise. Ron was desperate for his grandmothers watch to be restored after he had never seen it work. Steve had a big job on his hands as he knew how much it meant to the family and admitted he was nervous to work on it.
Entering the barn with Jay and Steve, Ron explained: This is the watch, and it was the watch of my grandfather and my grandmother.
“They were living in Indonesia before the war, and after the Japanese invaded Indonesia in the second Second World War, they were both arrested and sent to the prisoners of war camp.
“Fleeing from your house and being arrested, the only thing she could take with her was this watch, so she sewed it in her clothes, and it stayed there as long as she was in the prisoner of war camp.”
Shocked at the history behind the watch, Jay asked: “How long was she in the prison?” to which Ron revealed: “Four years.
“There is no family history except a watch, this is it, so after my grandmother passed away in 1964, my father got it, my father passed away five years ago, so now it’s mine.”
“Have you ever seen it work?” Jay wondered, with Ron saying: “No, no, no, I’ve never seen it work, because when I got it from my father it was in this state the hands are missing, the glass is missing.”
Assessing the watch, Steve said: “The case is slightly dented, isn’t it? I’m looking at this and thinking I don’t want to do it up too much.”
After leaving the watch with Steve to be worked on, Ron said to the camera: “It’s the only thing left from my grandmother, and the time before 194, I went to England for this guy so I’m sure he can fix it, so I’m excited.”
The time came for Steve to start working on the watch, and he was still shocked at the history of it, saying: “This is a really amazing watch.
“It was sewn into a dress for four years in a prisoner of war camp, I think it’s really surprising that it’s actually survived in this state.”
Steve made the decision that the watch was too small and precious to work on in the barn, so he took it off sight for specialist cleaning.
“These mechanisms are so fine that any dust that’s falling out of this old, thatched barn could affect it, it really needs to be in a clean environment.”
He also gained the help of specialist dial restorer Cindy Welland, who gave the watch a gentle clean and hand-painted the numerals back on.
As Steve nearly finished putting the microscopic components of the war watch mechanisms back together, he said: “I’m quite nervous about doing this actually.
“Because I find doing such small jobs quite difficult, to do such an important watch is quite pressurised.”
With the workings rebuilt, all that was left was to see if it ticked: “The moment of truth, ah that’s good! Really pleased.
“So that’s really good because that means there wasn’t anything drastically wrong with the watch it was just the dirt holding it back.”
Once the watch had been restored, Steve made his way to the Netherlands to deliver the watch back to Ron and his family.
“I’m really looking forward to seeing their reaction to it working and looking so great, and also just the thought that it’s had the most amazing journey, and this is another part of it.”
Arriving at their house, Steve told Ron and his family: “This is a moment I’ve been looking forward to because I know how much this watch means to you all.”
Revealing the watch to Ron, he gasped and said: “Oh man, that looks great! And the movement is working you did a great job.
“I can’t thank you enough,” he said, with Ron’s mother Catarina also adding: “You did a beautiful job, I’m sure my late husband would like that too thank you so much it’s home again.”
The Repair Shop is available to watch on BBC iPlayer.
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