In the last couple of years before he passed, Rob was in to modding watches. His particular specialty was working with the Seiko brand, which are competitively-priced but high quality models that allow for mixing and matching of parts and cases. In the course of his hobby, he was really experienced at pulling watches apart and putting them back together.
When I broke the crystal on my LL Bean field watch for the second (third?) time, I looked in to having LL Bean replace it, but for some reason I thought they ended the repair service for that model years ago. (FYI my entry on watch repair shows up as Google’s seventh search result). I asked Rob if he could take a look at it, and he happily agreed.
It languished with him for several years, and given all that happened, I knew it was sitting safely in a box somewhere at Karean’s house. When I was over a few weekends ago, we found ourselves looking through some storage boxes in the garage for unrelated reasons, and she showed me the watch storage bins Rob kept. In the bottom drawer, tucked away in small ziplock bags, we found my watch disassembled in six pieces: the case, the movement, the broken crystal, the back, the crown, and the battery. The crystal is cracked and there was no replacement with the other parts, so I’ve got to find one and have it put back together.
The representative at LL Bean claims they will in fact replace the crystal and repair the watch—but I’m not holding my breath, because I’m aware it’s over 20 years old. If that doesn’t work, I’ll try the repair service who fixed my diver’s watch and have him put a sapphire crystal in it for durability. Then I’ll find a new band for it and put it into rotation. It’ll be good to have the OG back on my wrist again.