Five questions for watchmaker Franz Lorist

by Linda Hubbard on June 10, 2012

Watch maker Franz Lorist has been fixing watches in Menlo Park since 1967 — yep, that’s 45 years! He shares space in the alley off Oak Grove Avenue with Michael Day, who restores and fixes clocks. We stopped in recently for a brief visit.

InMenlo: Why are you a watchmaker?

Franz: My father and grandfather were watchmakers, so is my brother, nephews and two uncles.

InMenlo: How did you get to Menlo Park?

Franz: I came here in 1963 from South Africa — I was born in Amsterdam. I had an uncle who was a scientific glass blower at SRI and stayed with him. I walked into a jewelry store in Palo Alto; their watchmaker had just left and I took the job.

After a stint in the armed services, I didn’t want to go back to that shop and ran a shop in Los Altos for someone else. But then I found this space for rent for 80 bucks a month. I borrowed the money from by Dad and was able to pay him back after the first week.

InMenlo: Is there a particular kind or brand of watch that you enjoy working on?

Franz: Ones that are broken and cost a lot of money to fix [laughing]. On high end watches like Patek, Piaget and Rolex, the purchase price is the cheapest thing — the maintenance is expensive.

InMenlo: What watch do you regularly wear?

Franz: I have about 20 watches. It depends on what I’m doing. [Editor’s note: the day we visited he was wearing a Rolex.]

InMenlo: Are you considering retirement?

Franz: No. This is my hobby shop with a cash flow. If I was retired, I’d just go fishing more — I go to Alaska for King Salmon and also fish the Delta.

Photo by Irene Searles 


Sharon Wahl June 10, 2012 at 11:36 pm

I live about 2 1/2 blocks from Mr. Lorist’s “hobby shop” and have purchased several watches/clocks from him. For many years, I couldn’t figure out how to change the time on my watch:daylight to standard and vice versa. Franz or his partner would always fix it for me! I’ve enjoyed them for nearly 30 years. Thank you for getting him to share his history with us!

Scott R. Kline June 11, 2012 at 7:14 pm

Irene: This is a magnificent portrait photo. SRK

Ester Bugna June 12, 2012 at 7:07 pm

How very special having your presence as part of our Menlo Park history
[MP Hisotrical Assoc. Board Member]

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