The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Local News

December 2, 2012

Time for a change: Watchmaker leaves family business for own shop

JOHNSTOWN — After years working with watches, Mike Pentrack thought it was time to open his own shop.

So he left the family jewelry store where he got his start building and repairing timepieces and is setting up Miketrack Watch Works in the Centre One Plaza on Scalp Avenue.

“I knew what I wanted to do – and I decided to go it on my own,” said Pentrack, 41, a certified watchmaker, showing off his new stylish office, which will celebrate a grand opening Saturday.

Pentrack plans to offer his own custom-built watches, and will be able to hand-build originals that customers dream up.

He’ll also offer Lum-Tec watches, modern wristwatches that sell from about $450 to well more than $1,000.

But Pentrack expects the bulk of his business will be servicing modern mechanical and quartz timepieces.

And he says he’s prepared for it.

His location includes space solely dedicated to cleaning watches and their components.

His workshop sits next door, where he uses a specialized computer to test wristwatch timing.  Automated machines wind the watches to ensure they are functioning

properly and simulate the watch being worn – to ensure a watch that appears to be functioning normally actually does once it is back in use, Pentrack added.

“When someone drops a watch off for servicing ... it’s going to be completely taken apart, cleaned, oiled and adjusted before being put back together,” he said. “It’s pretty much a one-week process from start to finish.”

Pentrack is listed on the American Watchmakers-Clockmakers Institute website as the only certified watchmaker within 50 miles of Johnstown.

He has achieved “21st Century Certification” by the trade association and says he’s one of only 15 people in the state with those credentials.

Pentrack said he specializes in SWATCH group products, but also has experience working with plenty of others.

He’s had a few high-ticket custom jobs through the years.

A current project will take a modern watch and give it a classic look that he says will make it a $150,000 timepiece when he’s done.

If all goes well, Pentrack will add Apple brand iPods, iPads and iPhones to his repair list.

He said he is partnering with a national repair company to make it happen.

For those without an Apple warranty, it can cost $300 to replace an iPad screen alone by shipping it, “but I’d be able to do it for less than half that.”

It’s an intimidating new venture, he admitted.

There’s certainly demand locally for hands to replace shattered screens, speakers and buttons on the popular devices.

“Honestly, I’m kinda scared,” Pentrack said. “I might find myself working 24/7 once I start that up.”

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