By Donna Hardy and Henry Kessler
It is always sad to lose a friend, yet early this summer, we all lost one of the good guys. Paul Borel passed away on May 24. He would have become 62 in July. Having literally grown up in the watch industry, Paul served American watchmakers most of his life.
There are many Borel family members involved in Jules Borel, the business where Paul worked most of his life. Paul’s grandfather, Jules Borel, founded Jules Borel & Company in 1920. Several of Jules Borel’s children joined him in his business. One of his sons was Pete; Paul, Roger, and Becky are Pete’s children. Another of Jules’s sons was John; Gary and Bob Borel are John’s children. Mark was yet another son of Jules, and Kay is Mark’s daughter-in-law. Other family members were involved in the past, and younger generations are getting involved today. Paul was fortunate to be surrounded by so much family. Jules would have been proud of the work of his children, grandchildren, and other family members.
Over Paul’s 40 years at Jules Borel, he served as IT manager, and he was also a watch-parts expert. He served as a director of the Jewelry Industry Distributors Association (JIDA) and the Kansas City Swiss Society. He was also a member of the Oklahoma State University Watchmaking Advisory Committee and the AWCI Industry Advisory Board (IAB).
Bob Frei, Paul’s cousin, referred to Paul as a classic—yet fun and very athletic—computer geek. Paul was so athletic that one day he and Roger began racing as the two were descending the stairs of their multi-story offices in Kansas City. Unfortunately, Paul tripped on the way down, fell, and broke his leg! Paul’s love for computers served him well when managing the company’s computer operations, maintaining the watch-parts database, and watch materials department. While in his 20s and on a trip to Switzerland in 1973, Paul decided that he’d stay in Switzerland and work at Albert Froidevaux & Fils, where Bob Frei’s sister also worked. A*F is recognized as a worldwide distributor of watch parts. Paul studied the French language and took courses at the Bulova Watch Company. Upon his return to the United States in 1975, he joined Jules Borel & Co. full-time.
In the 1980s Paul worked with his brother Roger to capture watch case numbers and their corresponding case part number information. Initially, this was for internal purposes to assist in accurately filling orders from Borel’s inventory of over 100,000 items. Today this watch-parts database is available on the company’s website and is used daily by thousands of watchmakers around the country. This was Paul’s pride and joy.
Furthering his interest in computers, Paul took many courses in various program languages and operating systems. In the late 1970s, he moved to Miami, Florida, where he took courses in jewelry repair at the Stewart School, worked at the Borel Miami office, got married, and became manager of the Miami office upon the retirement of Frank Murray.
His interest in personal computers grew, and while in Miami he developed an order entry/invoice printing set of programs. His pride and enthusiasm was overwhelming when he got one of the early hard drives for a PC—a 20-megabyte Rodyne for $600.
In the late 1980s, Paul and Roger worked together to compile several widely used books of case-part number to case-part references, supplying these to BB/American Perfit Crystal Company and Froidevaux in Switzerland. These were the beginnings of the Borel parts database used today.
A unique aspect of this project was the use of a desktop publishing program Paul wrote that controlled the special escape codes for the early Hewlett-Packard laser printers. This was used for many years to create laser-quality hard copy for the Tick-Tock-Talks, ads, flyers, and drawer-front labels before the availability of PC publishing programs.
As a hobby, Paul loved to make large wall clocks and other items out of multicolored woods. These projects required precise cutting using his laser. He loved cooking, exercising, and conversation. He was friendly and had a positive outlook on life.
The family suggests donations be made to the Salvation Army or Old Mission United Methodist Church, Fairway, Kansas, where Paul was a lifelong member.