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Correct Time owner Wayne Miller retires from fixing watches after 57 years

Miller, 77, has owned Correct Time since 1988, but he has been fixing watches much longer. Day in and day out for more than 57 years, people have come to him with their watches asking him to figure out why they don’t work, to clean their exteriors, to replace batteries or a myriad of other things.

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Certified master watch maker Wayne Miller will be retiring in July after 57 years in business.
Eric Hylden/Grand Forks Herald
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GRAND FORKS — Wayne Miller has never been lonely behind the counter of Correct Time in Grand Cities Mall.

Miller, 77, has owned Correct Time since 1988, but he has been fixing watches much longer. Day in and day out for more than 57 years, people have come to him with their watches asking him to figure out why they don’t work, to clean their exteriors, to replace batteries or a myriad of other things.

He has stood alone behind the counter each day as a lifeline to those needing help with their watches, but he is hanging up his tools at the end of July. Miller is retiring and taking Correct Time with him, as his shop will shut down once he logs his last hour behind the counter.

“It gets me up in the morning and out of the house,” Miller said. “I enjoy it. For 57 years, I've enjoyed it.”

Miller, who is originally from Moorhead, Minnesota, graduated from St. Paul Tech Technical College spring 1966. From there, he immediately began fixing watches for a living. He worked at a shop in Fargo, as well as about 10 other stores, by his own estimate, over the course of his early career.

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“They’d mail it to me, and I’d fix it and mail it back,” Miller said. “That was the first two years, then I moved to Detroit Lakes.”

For more than five decades, he has had to know what every piece inside a watch does and adapt with the changes in watch making.

He has always been the sole employee behind the counter at Correct Time.

“It’s always been me,” Miller said. “If I had more business, then I just had to put in more hours.”

Miller started Correct Time in Grand Cities Mall in 1988. He had a few spots in the mall before where he sits now, which he moved into 20 years ago. Miller has had to change how he approaches his job over the years as the watch repair industry has changed. In the 70s, digital indicators were popular. In the 80s, swatches and other plastic watches came to dominate the market. The 90s saw the return of the mechanical watch. The 2000s and 2010s saw more elegant designs, as well as the popularization of skeletonized dials, which show off the inner mechanisms powering the watch.

“There's been a lot of different changes, from tuning forks back in the 60s and 70s,” Miller said. “A lot of different electric stuff has come through my hands here.”

Some of the most common problems Miller sees when people bring him their watches are cleaning-related. He also completes installation and replacement of batteries for watches powered by them.

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Miller’s favorite watches to repair are simple pocket watches, but he doesn’t dislike working on any particular kind.

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“There’s no certain thing,” Miller said. “You just do what you’ve got to do.”

So, why retire now? Miller plans to return to Detroit Lakes, where his children and grandchildren live. He said he would take it “a day at a time” and has no specific plans other than that.

“I sure would like to thank everybody in Grand Forks and the surrounding area for the business I’ve had over the years,” Miller said. “I've met a lot of nice people and made a lot of good friends.”

Jacob Holley joined the Grand Forks Herald as its business reporter in June 2021.

Holley's beat at the Grand Forks Herald is broad and includes a variety of topics, including small business, national trends and more.

Readers can reach Holley at jholley@gfherald.com.Follow him on Twitter @JakeHolleyMedia.
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