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Watchmaker’s skills were unrivaled

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Tadami Tad Miyamoto, believed to be the last certified master watchmaker in Hawaii, died last Friday at Kuakini Medical Center. He was 92.

Miyamoto was born in Hilo, where his father ran a watchmaking business. When he was 12, Miyamoto’s father died. His family closed the business and he was forced to drop out of school. He then worked in a jewelry store as an apprentice.

Miyamoto decided to follow in his father’s footsteps of watchmaking. In his 20s, he received a scholarship to attend the Elgin Watchmakers College in Illinois, where he obtained his master certification.

When he returned to Hawaii, he enlisted in the military and became a member of the 100th Infantry Battalion. Miyamoto deployed to the Philippines at the end of the World War II.

After he was discharged, he opened T. Miyamoto Jewelers Inc. in 1943 on Liliha Street. Over the years, the business moved to three different locations on Fort Street. The business, in its 67th year, continues to operate today by appointment only.

Miyamoto’s son, Ted Miyamoto, said many sought his father’s skills. "He could repair almost any kind of mechanical watch," said his son, who learned about watchmaking from his father and now runs the business.

Miyamoto was the past president of the Hawaii Jewelers Association. He and his late wife also were longtime members of the Hawaii Ballroom Dance Association.

He was very kind and mild-mannered, said Ted Miyamoto said.

Miyamoto is also survived by his daughter, Eileen Hisayo Yabiku. Services will be held Monday at the Hosoi Garden Mortuary. Visitation will begin at 5 p.m. followed by the service at 6 p.m. Casual attire. The family requested no flowers.

 

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