My brother-in-law arrived from London for a visit two weeks ago. “Jie“, he said stepping off the airport express, “do you know a place I can get my watch battery changed?”
Oh have I been waiting for that question. Almost jumping out and down, I exclaimed “yes, there’s a Sifu right outside the MTR station who does that sort of thing.”
A Sifu is a term meaning “master” usually used to address a professional tradesman who has a particular skill set or expertise.
We marched up the stairs out of the Wan Chai A3 exit, crossed the road and stood in the queue behind two others at the little repair shop I blogged about previously. Our turn came up pretty quickly. “Din chi yao man tai“(it’s a battery problem). The Sifu took his watch and turned it upside down, this way and that. He took out a little black magnifying glass which he stuck in his eye socket and peered at it again. Hmm. This wasn’t going as smoothly as I’d hoped.
After two to three minutes of him inspecting the watch and peering at it from every angle, he pronounced “mm tak, dui erm qi” (Cantonese for can’t do it, sorry). I persisted. “Dim gai mm tak?” (Why can’t it be done?) he replied “hoi mm dou, hoi mm dou” (can’t open it, x2 for emphasis).
Well that was a disappointment. But I was undeterred. “I know another place” I said, “Let’s go try there instead“.
We walked over to Tai Yuen Street and headed into the crowded corridor of shoppers.
All the way at the top of the street at the intersection of Cross Street, a watch seller Sifu plies his selection of watches and clocks along with the watch battery and watch strap replacement service. His stall is lit by a few energy saving bare fluorescent bulbs and fronts a corner cha chaan teng that does brisk business during breakfast and lunch.
This Sifu took the watch and immediately popped his eyeglass in his eye socket. He examined the watch very carefully and showed us how the back of the watch was sealed shut and there was no obvious way to open it. Then he looked closely at the bezel and crown.
“Ok“, he said. “Ngor sek jor ge la” (I know how to do it). He took out his tool box and rummaged for a tool. Then he took the watch to his velvet work top behind the stall and proceeded to pop the watch open via the crown, lifting it almost bizarrely from its front. The whole procedure took less than five minutes and he handed the watch back. HKD 40. Great stuff.
Find the watch Sifu who is friendly and up for a challenge here.