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November 1999

Timepieces: Education & Repair

Take-in Procedures, Part 3: Pricing the Repair

Whatever your prices, here are tips on consistency and efficiency

Repair pricing policies vary store to store. If you have an in-house repair center, pricing is likely (and hopefully) a well-structured side of the business. With off-premises service centers, however, the following points will help you understand how pricing policies are applied.

Mechanical Watches

Most watches brought in for servicing need their movements disassembled completely, cleaned, hand-lubricated and reassembled. Then the time must be set and regulated.

Give customers an estimated cost to perform this basic service and advise them the watchmaker will go ahead with this procedure unless other costs would have to be incurred. Most watchmakers have a price list that includes a blanket service fee for a regular-wind watch and another fee for an automatic (self-winding) timepiece. This basic service typically includes a set of gaskets, a new crown and a crystal.

Some shops don't include servicing the movement as part of basic service. These are called "short jobs," which means there's a separate fee for one or more of the following procedures: new gaskets, new crystal, new stem and/or crown and cleaning the band and case. If you've determined via the repair person's criteria the job is a short job, you can quickly list and price the individual procedures for your customer.

Additional Work

If you become aware of some additional work needed as you take in the watch, add this cost to the initial fee. Additional work might include replacing the crystal, the crown or the set bridge. See last month's "Timepieces Education & Repair" (October 1999, page 112) for suggestions on how to evaluate a watch for additional work as it arrives in the store.

If additional work is needed after you've taken in the watch, your watchmaker or repair shop should give you an estimate before proceeding. If this doesn't typically occur, try to develop a better rapport with the watchmaker or repair shop. As a sales associate, you must work with the customer and the watchmaker, so it's best to be fully aware of what you need to tell your customer before the work begins.

Also note the type of crystal – many repair shops will charge extra to replace sapphire crystals or other specialty crystals and crowns.

Make sure all additional repairs are listed and priced individually on the bill. Other examples include complications such as calendar dates, day/date features, chronograph functions, moon dials, antique or rusted movements and repeaters.

Quartz and Electronic Watches

These require different service fees than do mechanicals. A watch such as an Accutron and balance – wheel electronic watches usually require individual estimates. Be sure you're able to identify these types of watches and are fully informed about the take-in procedure your watchmaker or watch repair shop requires for these unique items.

Quartz analog movements typically are repaired for a single fee. This is possible because, in most instances, a commercial-grade quartz movement is simply replaced rather than taken out and repaired. This is far more efficient and effective for lower-cost models. Of course, as noted earlier, list any other repairs or procedures separately.

By David Christianson Certified Master Watchmaker, President, American Watchmakers - Clockmakers Institute

David Christianson is a fourth-generation owner of Christianson Jewelry, Kendallville, IN. In addition to serving as AWI president, he is a certified master watchmaker and a fellow of the British Horological Society. He discusses watch repair for the sales staff in this column each month. Send questions, suggestions and comments to Professional Jeweler, 1500 Walnut St., Suite 1200, Philadelphia, PA 19102; askus@professionaljeweler.com.

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Copyright © 1999 by Bond Communications.


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