Clock strikes 60 years for family business

first_img AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREGame Center: Chargers at Kansas City Chiefs, Sunday, 10 a.m.“Maybe we’ll lower our prices to 1947 levels for about five minutes,” Jerry Vilicich said. Joking aside, the brothers are proud their business has achieved such longevity, but don’t plan on marking the anniversary with a party or special promotions for customers. “We’ll probably have a really good lunch,” Pat Vilicich said. “We’re so busy keeping things moving we don’t really stop.” The mechanisms and principles behind today’s timepieces are similar to the ones from centuries ago, so the brothers don’t necessarily need two different sets of skills to fix old or new watches and clocks. However, the Internet has created an interesting challenge for the brothers, who often have to tell customers they’ve been duped by online sellers of fake antiques. By Justina Ly Staff Writer The steady rhythm of working clocks and watches has been a familiar sound at Vilicich Watch & Clock for more than half a century. The business, which is owned by brothers Jerry and Pat Vilicich, celebrates its 60th anniversary this year. Their father, Jerry Vilicich Sr., who died from cancer five years ago, started the business in 1947. “People think they’ll get a steal on the Internet,” Jerry Vilicich said. “They’ll come back and say, `Look what we bought on the Internet.’ But this is wrong and that’s wrong and that doesn’t go with this watch.” They repeatedly tell customers to trust their skills because they stand by their decades of experience in the trade. The brothers and another employee, Conrad Castrellon, each specialize in specific forms of watch and clock repair. Most of their work is for customers in the South Bay, but they have occasionally done repairs for out-of-state customers. Jerry Vilicich repairs antique clocks and makes housecalls for grandfather clocks. Pat Vilicich and Castrellon repair and restore antique and modern watches. Pat Vilicich also specializes in sales and service of Rolex watches. The 60-year history of the family business started after their father returned home from World War II. He had planned to attend dental school but found them filled with other homecoming soldiers. He changed career plans and enrolled in the now-defunct Los Angeles School of Watchmaking in downtown Los Angeles. Two years later he opened his first store The younger Jerry soon joined the family business when his father taught him how to repair clocks. “I’ve always been interested in what makes things tick,” he said. “When I was a kid I used to take my toys apart.” His natural curiosity to know how things work was a perfect fit for his new job. He is also an avid bass player and performs in several different bands. Castrellon is the youngest craftsman in the shop. He began working alongside the Vilicich’s when he was 9 years old. “I used to go to a video game store around the corner and play video games, but my dad sent me over here,” he said. One day Jerry Vilicich Jr. asked him to help pull apart a clock, and he’s never looked back since. He became an apprentice and learned the watch and clock trade from the Vilicich’s and other repairmen. Jerry Vilicich handcrafts new brass and steel parts for many of his old clocks. He said in many cases that is the only way he can make repairs because the parts for a decades- or century-old timepiece can’t be ordered from a factory. in 1947 on Pacific Avenue in downtown San Pedro. He also had stores on Sixth Street and Western Avenue. During that time, his three sons and one daughter passed through the store and learned a bit of their father’s trade. Pat Vilicich started working for his father at the tender age of 7 and continued through his college years. After he graduated from California State University, Dominiguez Hills with a degree in psychology, he decided to forgo graduate school and went into business with his father. In 1986, Jerry Vilicich Sr. and Pat Vilicich become partners and opened the store that now stands on Weymouth Avenue. “You never really stop learning because there’s always going to be something different,” .” The challenges range from fixing a clock damaged by another repairman to replacing old parts. Castrellon said. “It’s a challenge every time “A lot of what we work on is really old, so quite literally we’re using the same tools and techniques that my dad used,” Jerry Vilicich said. Many of his clocks range in price from a few hundred dollars to tens of thousands of dollars, but mostly the pieces are priceless because they are often family heirlooms or collectibles, he said. His dedication, patience and passion for fragile and unique timepieces are qualities he shares with his brother and Castrellon. The three men also care about their customers who own the watches and clocks. It’s an important lesson they learned from the elder Vilicich. “He would always take the time to talk with people,” Pat Vilicich said. “I think that’s what he always tried to instill in us, that you’ve got to take care of your customers.” With continued dedication to service and quality he hopes that time won’t run out on the family business. “We hope to be around another 60 years,” he said, “because that would make me 108.” [email protected] local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!last_img