History of Watchworks

Watchworks was established nearly 30 years ago when founder Alex Hofberg, who was finishing a Business degree at Portland State University rented a room in a large, old drafty rental home with rather little furnishings.  To add to their comfort and earn some pocket money, he and a fellow housemate, Carlton, enjoyed the active garage and estate sale scene at a time where one could still find interesting and useful underpriced objects.  

During this time it was not uncommon for them to score the occasional vintage mixmaster, toaster, pinball machine – anything cool and old and well made.  Soon they were known in the antiques community as professional pickers enjoying both the “chase” and the associated profits.   By coincidence, Carlton had been trained as a watchmaker at the Joseph Bulova School years before and was kind enough to teach  Alex a bit of watch repair technique.  At the time, (1990), many watchmakers who had been trained post World War II as part of the GI Bill, were aging out and Alex bought out many caches of watches, material, equipment and horological libraries.  

Armed with a new found passion, Alex finished his degree in Information Systems and Quantitative Analysis and discussed with Maureen, his future wife and business partner, a plan (harebrained plan) to skip interviewing for a “real” job and to continue down the path of horology, which satisfied his love of timepieces and the thrill of treasure hunting.  First working with a jeweler who had a bit of extra space in his store and  soon after establishing a small store of their own, Alex and Maureen officially founded Watchworks Inc. in 1992.  

With the addition of their own store, the hip-pocket business Alex founded became a full-time profession.  Originally the wares were somewhat limited to vintage wrist and pocket watches such as Hamilton, Gruen, Omega, Rolex, railroad watches etc., but living simply and reinvesting profits in more valuable and collectable items propelled the business forward and the reputation of Watchworks grew.  People interested in fine vintage and unusual pieces knew to visit Watchworks.

As Watchworks gained traction, the staff grew with the addition of a full time custom goldsmith and the product mix expanded into fine jewelry, as well as officially represented watch brands.  Watchworks soon became one of the most significant purveyors of fine jewelry and timepieces in the Pacific Northwest. Alex’s expertise garnered him a position of staff writer for Sports Car Market Magazine, who for over eight years featured a monthly column on watches of interest.  Alex has also been published in Ever Magazine and has been featured in several magazines and publications, such as The Portland Business Journal, Portland Interview Magazine and Hodinkee.  

Alex and Maureen’s love of timepieces has happily enabled them to avoid getting a “real job”. Their passion for the fine art of watchmaking and jewelry has attracted a loyal following of like-minded collectors and aficionados. Whether a person is considering purchasing their first watch or is someone who has spent years searching for unique vintage pieces, Watchworks can help you find the watch or jewelry that is perfect for you.