THE HISTORY OF PILBROWS WATCHMAKERS
Pilbrow Watchmakers was established in Gisborne in 1947 by Paddy J. Pilbrow after serving his apprenticeship in Wellington. Paddy built his business on Gladstone Road right underneath the Gisborne Town Clock where he specialised in all manner of watch and clock repairing.
In 1966 at the age of 15, Ian Pilbrow started his apprenticeship with his father Paddy and graduated after a 5 year course. Just days after getting married in 1973, Ian, along with his new wife Diane, flew to Vancouver Island, Canada where he worked as a watchmaker for Nowrath Jewellers. Three years later upon their return to Gisborne, Ian opened Bright Street Jewellers right around the corner from his father's business.
While traveling home from a watchmaking conference, Ian & Diane stopped in Taupo so Ian could indulge in one of his other passions, fly fishing. It was on this trip that Ian stumbled upon a for sale sign on the window of McDonalds Jewellers, and in January 1980 Ian and Diane moved to Taupo renaming their new store Pilbrows Watchmakers. After two years of running both stores, the 10 hour round trip became too much and Ian sold Bright Street Jewellers to concentrate on the Taupo business.
Paddy decided that it was time to retire in 1983, after 36 years in running his business, closed the doors on the original Pilbrows Watchmakers. In 1990 Ian too needed a change and sold his shop to Bill Drew (which became William Drew's Goldsmiths) to take up commercial fishing on Lake Taupo. However the passion never died and he continued to operate a workshop from home in between fishing charters.
After being out of the game for 11 years, the itch became too much and in July 2001 Ian opened a new store in the centre of Suncourt Plaza (then Suncourt Arcade) on Tamamutu Street, putting Pilbrows Watchmakers back into the Taupo town centre.
It was at this time that a 17 year old Rowan Pilbrow had left school and was looking a new career path. Rowan started his apprenticeship in August 2001.
The business grew quickly and the duo was forced to move into bigger premises only one year later, tripling the size of the first store. Restoration work became their niche, so with the change of location came a change of name; Pilbrows Watch & Clock Restorations.
Rowan gained his trade certificate and qualified as a Horologist in May 2006.
In September 2010 Pilbrows again moved to a larger shop (opposite their old shop) increasing the workshop and showroom three-fold. This new shop is the current location of the business and has windows right down one side allowing the public to view the work being carried out. As the business grew, so did the workload and in 2012 Bhikhu joined the team.
Then in March 2014 the torch was passed on and Rowan brought the business making him the third generation of Pilbrows Watchmakers. In the years following, the business went through numerous changes. Leon joined the team in Dec 2014, and the team has been growing ever since. The building was expanded to house the newly acquired parts distribution division, a new state of the art watchmaking workshop was built and Pilbrows secured its first service agency, Citizen Watches. Within the space of only 18 months, Pilbrows also picked up the service agencies for Bulova, Frédérique Constant, Claude Bernade, Victorinox & Wenger - with more in the pipeline.
Pilbrows Watch & Clock Restorations aim is to become the hub of New Zealand watchmaking, producing high quality work for the best brands from all over the world.
I was born in 1983 and grew up in Taupo. I've always had a keen interest in mechanical workings and started my Horological apprenticeship with dad in August 2001, gaining my certificate in May 2006. In 2009 I joined the New Zealand Horological Institute committee, 2 years later I became the Vice President (the youngest ever) and in 2013 became the President (again youngest ever) and retain the position to this day. In 2014 I purchased the business and I'm continually working to build the business and become the best in the country.
Born in Gisborne 1951. Started apprenticeship with my father (P.J. Pilbrow) in 1966 and graduated after a 5 year apprentice. Completed a training course with Watchmakers of Switzerland in 1971. I have been watch/clock making both in New Zealand and overseas for over 50 years, based in Taupo for the last 38 years.
I undertook my apprenticeship at Capital Watch Services, Wellington and completed my time in August of 1993. After working in New Zealand for a few more years I ventured overseas, and after a two-year stint working for Watchworks Australia in Perth, I took a position in Atlanta, USA watchmaking for Mayor's Jewellery. At Mayor's I worked mostly with Rolex, and during the next ten years I completed all of the Rolex training up to the Daytona. During this time I also completed the Omega Co-Axial training with Swatch Group. In 2011 I left the United States and flew to Switzerland to undertake and graduate from the WOSTEP Refresher Course in Neuchatel. I am now once again happy to call New Zealand my home and have been at Pilbrows since 2014.
I was born in Christchurch in 1978 and have been here ever since. I started my working life as an apprentice camera technician working for H.E. Perry Ltd in May 1997. I found that I really enjoyed the mechanical side of the repair work and after finding my Grandfather’s old Bulova watch I started looking further into Watchmaking. This eventually led me to Ilam Watchmakers Ltd. where I was offered a job and an apprenticeship. After a stint there I was offered a job with Nairns Swiss Watch Service in their Christchurch Workshop. After completing my apprenticeship, I then returned to Ilam Watchmakers for a further 8 years during which time I sat and passed my OWME21 training and examination with Omega. I am also the current secretary/treasurer of the NZHI. In January of 2020 I have, along with Rowan, established Pilbrows Watchmakers Christchurch branch.