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'Watchmaker' repairs timeless memories
Daylight Savings Time ends Sunday

By Johnny Jackson

jjackson@henryherald.com

The end of Daylight Savings Time at 2 a.m., Sunday marks various annual occasions in the world - a distinct change in the weather, the need for residents to be reminded to change their smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors, and the more obvious need for them to reset their clocks and watches back one hour.

As people pay closer attention to their timepieces, one of the region's watchmakers hopes they will also gain a greater appreciation for them and their care.

Wayne Gray, the owner of Optical Workshop in McDonough, said he expects to have some increased business. A large part of his jewelry, clock, and eyeglass-frame-repair business is repairing clocks and watches.

"It's amazing when it comes to their timing," said Gray, 42. "It's amazing how much people put their time and resources in their timepieces."

His shop, located just off the McDonough Square, is decorated with a revolving collection of customers' ornate cuckoo and grandfather clocks, whose chimes ring throughout the day.

Among the shop's hanging timepieces are those that are most dear to him, he said. They are the shadow-window and picture-framed watches of his father, Reginal Gray, who died 22 years ago, and his mother, Vindal Gray, who died this past summer.

Gray believes his is the only repair shop of its kind in the area. Since it opened in July, the shop has received several generational pieces from local residents, including some from as far away as Florida.

Currently, he is working to repair a generations-old, 14K gold, pocket watch. This summer, a woman entered his shop, interested in having the worn-down piece restored to its former glory.

The woman told Gray that the pocket watch, dating back to the turn of the last century, was handed down to her husband several years ago from his grandfather. She said she wanted to have it restored in time to give to her husband on Christmas. As a housewife with little discretionary money, according to Gray, she has been trying to save bits of money here and there, each week, when she goes grocery shopping.

Hers is one of the many stories he encounters on a regular basis. "I am a watchmaker," he said, adding that he is more specifically the embodiment of a jeweler.

Gray started as a jeweler, and began helping repair eyeglasses at jewelry stores.

"In New York, I started out with this optician friend of mine in a business called Quick Frame Repair," said Gray.

He said that when he was a child, he had no interest in the business of jewelry or watchmaking, but would watch his older brother, Ezra Gray, a jeweler, who specialized in repairing watches and jewelry. "He taught me this trade," Gray added. "I remember I did something wrong, and my punishment was to watch him repair things. I thought it was boring then. But, as I kept watching him, I got very intrigued."

Gray later watched his brother out of sheer interest in the craft. At 12, he repaired his first wristwatch, a Timex, and continued to repair items as a sort of hobby.

He later went to school to become an auto mechanic, a learning experience, he said, that helps him now as a businessman and jeweler. "It keeps me focused and grounded in the sense that I love to fix things."

Gray said he expects, in the coming weeks, that people may be calling on his expertise to help reset house clocks and repair family heirlooms, often used as gifts during the holiday season.

The Optical Workshop, located at 398 Griffin Street in McDonough, is open Monday through Friday, from 9 a.m., to 5:30 p.m., and Saturdays, from 9 a.m., to 3 p.m. For more infromation, call (678) 583-0017.