So here's some good news: Mill Valley is now home to a watch and clock repair shop whose proprietor has been plying his trade for more than five decades and recently relocated from San Francisco, where it was regarded as a neighborhood institution.
Rolf Klotz and his son Michael have opened Klotz Watches & Clocks at 38 Millwood Street (near East Blithedale), the former home to the Above Category bike shop, and Klotz has already heard the delight from local watch and clock owners who’ve had to go far and wide to get their timepieces fixed.
Klotz’s wry sense of humor is frequently on display, both in person – he suggested that he spent hours putting on makeup prior to having a quick photo taken this week – and on his website, where he notes that his “first dream was to become a car mechanic but his father said he was too small to work on cars, at 14, and apprenticed Rolf with a Master Watch & Clockmaker (today Rolf is well over 6 feet tall).”
Born in Liegnitz, which became part of Poland after the defeat of Nazi Germany during World War II, Klotz moved to Essen, near Dusseldorf, when he was just six months old. He began his training to repair watches and clocks in 1958. After completing a three-plus year apprenticeship, Klotz became a watchmaker for five years before attaining a "Meister's" – a Master’s Degree and the highest level of certification in his industry.
Klotz then worked for two of the biggest watchmakers in the world, Omega Watches in Dusseldorf and Rolex in Cologne.
On a trip to Spain, Klotz met his future wife Kathy, who had previously lived in the Bay Area. They moved to the area, and in 1988, Klotz opened his shop at Fillmore and Lombard streets in 1988, quickly becoming the city’s most sought-after watchmaker. After 10 years there, he moved his shop to upper Market Street near Cafe du Nord, where he had the shop for 15 years until June 2015. When his property owner doubled his rent, Klotz knew it was time to move, and this time he hoped to find a space in Marin, as he and Kathy have lived in Sausalito for the past 17 years.
“I still miss my great store, and my customers there miss me as well – it was a great shop,” Klotz says. “But we’re excited to be here and we’re building a community here.”
Wondering if Klotz can fix your watch or clock? He has a pretty straightforward, tongue-in-cheek answer for you: “Any timepiece – except for a sundial.”
The 411: Klotz Watches & Clocks is at 38 Millwood Street. More info.