Tag Archives: watch repair

Watch repair and battery replacement part 2: (the real Si Fu)

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.

Watch stall on Tai Yuen Street, Wanchai market

Repeat drill. 

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. 

The Sifu changing the watch battery

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.

Watch repair and battery replacement in Wan Chai

If you haven’t switched over to wearing an apple iwatch and enjoy wearing a quartz watch, it must be annoying when the mechanism stops ticking. Uurgh. What time is it? You could continually check your phone as I do, but it does require taking the phone out and getting distracted by everything on the screen rather than a mere flick of the wrist.

My friend NDS was in Hong Kong visiting just after the new year and was asking where she could get her watch battery changed. Yes, she could get it done in London but it would cost her multiples more and she wasn’t sure why the battery died frequently.. she suspected that she wasn’t getting fresh batteries put in.

Well here in Wan Chai, you can watch the “Sifu” fix your watch and insert new batteries. He works with simple tools and a basic desk. None of that fancy screens and taking the watch to the back room where they tinker out of sight. And you get it back on the spot, as long as you care to wait.

At lunchtime there was a steady queue of people waiting to get their watches sorted. It must be the Chinese New Year rush where everyone wants to start the year off with fresh batteries and a functioning watch. A bit of spring cleaning drags everything out of the closet for a tune up.

Find the Sifu at a little corner in the Technology Digital shop. It’s across the road from the A3 Johnston Road exit.

If this guy can’t sort your watch out, look for this watch battery Sifu in the Wan Chai market instead.