The Start of a Legacy
It’s February of 1975, it’s Friday, and its a sunny, 70 degrees and Southern California is showing off her best to Tony Gerace, a mechanic from New York. Just there for a vacation, Tony calls home, quits his job, and becomes an overnight Californian. By that Monday he starts working as a Porsche mechanic in Encino. His talents make him the go-to guy for “impossible jobs.” However, Tony knew he wanted his own shop and in 1978 TLG Auto, an air-cooled and Porsche repair shop, was born. Shortly thereafter, so was Marco Gerace.
There are many worldly possessions that a father passes to a son. There are the tangible ones, like cars, or watches, or even an auto shop. But there are also the intangibles like a name or legacy. Marco was lucky enough to receive both and for Marco, the latter is more important. In conversation he talks about his family, and his father in particular, often and with warmth, love, and the highest regard. After his father passed away in 2017, Marco took ownership of TLG. He continues to carry out the work he and his father stood side-by-side doing for so long.
Much of Marco’s life is wrapped in the layers of oil, grease, and dirt that have graced TLG Auto for the last 40 years. He tells stories of his father taking him to the shop as a baby. He says his dad would set him in his bassinet on the work bench as he built transmissions and motors. The noise of the tools and work becoming the soundtrack of his childhood. As Marco got older he would continually go to the shop, eventually working there on school holidays. Ultimately, he joined full-time after graduating college.
Marco is a fan of things that take effort; he is precise and detail-oriented. For him, there is a vast appreciation of all of the detail that goes into making both cars and watches. Marco thinks about the energy and minutiae put into their creation. He focuses on how the mechanisms work perfectly and sound incredible, musing on how they are then encased in a carefully-selected group of materials to create a complete machine. To Marco, this is art, and the creators, artists.
He has loved watches as long as he can remember, and his collection is filled with sentiment. His first watch was a Swiss Army Watch that his grandfather gave him. Marco wore it until he wore it out, then changed the strap and did it again. It was the watch that started it all.
The Watches: His Sentimental Favorites
When his grandfather passed away Marco came across an OMEGA Seamaster automatic among his things. It’s discovery triggered fond memories of his grandfather wearing the watch. Though the watch had been sitting for a very long time, when Marco picked it up and moved it, the second hand began to tick. He wound it and listened to it and decided that he would keep the watch. It was one of the few things of his grandfathers that he has. Marco wore this watch on his wedding day, and though his grandfather wasn’t there, through the watch, he was.
Among Marco’s vast and colorful collection, is a vintage Longines. It was a gift from his grandfather to his father and though it is not the most expensive watch Marco owns, it may mean the most to him. He recollects his dad wearing this watch when he dressed up or on special occasions, like Marco’s wedding day. With both of those influential men now gone, it has become an heirloom. The watch, with the exception of the crown, has all of its original parts, and signifies the lasting craftsmanship that goes into mechanical watches.
After Marco’s Dad passed away, he had to renegotiate the lease on the building where the shop is housed. They had been there for 30 years, and when he sat with the landlord they began to talk watches. Marco mentioned his grail watch – a Rolex Submariner 116610LV. A few days later the landlord comes by and gives him the “Hulk” as a gift of appreciation for their thirty-year relationship. His hope, is that he can pass this down to his son, who will then pass it on someday.
Watches are a huge part of Marco’s life. These mechanical marvels directly correlate to his own craftsmanship in cars, and his interests extend into the historical aspect of their intricacies. His philosophy when it comes to watches is to “buy what you like.” He ‘s not hung up on the brand or the model as much as how a watch makes him feel. He says “if you have to wear it, you have to love it,” and this philosophy is one he will teach his own son as he grows up at TLG.