Professional Jeweler Archive: Watchmaker Education and You

November 2000

Timepieces/Education & Repair


Watchmaker Education and You

Jewelers are in the perfect position to help ease the demand for quality watch service


Consumers tend to value personal items, particularly those that are permanent and portable. For centuries, timepieces have been one of these items. In the past, a watch was personal and reflected the taste and personality of the owner. People spent a great deal of money to own and maintain their fine timepiece.

Today, despite the availability of low-priced watches, people still value a favorite timepiece. You’ve likely heard a customer refer to his or her “good” watch, a treasured family keepsake, a technically valuable or rare item or a self-purchased prize. Whatever the case, the customer will invariably seek service for the timepiece. Institutions or government agencies also require upkeep of their timepieces.

Golden Hands

This service and upkeep of fine timepieces requires what Antoine Simonin, director of the Watchmakers of Switzerland Technical and Education Program, calls the “golden hands” of a trained watchmaker. Over the past 10 years, some 70 million watches have been sold – and at least 30% of these will require service. This means 21 million watches need to reach these golden hands.

So there’s a tremendous need for trained watch repairers, including those who service luxury quartz timepieces and mechanical timepieces. This tremendous vacuum doesn’t even include the demand for specialists who are able to service the millions of antique and ancient watches that wait to be restored.

Strong Demand

More timepieces are in need of repair with far fewer people trained to repair or service them than ever before. As jewelers, you’re in the perfect position to help ease this demand for quality watch service. While it’s difficult to hire a trained watchmaker (many watchmakers find demand so strong they operate their own shops), as a retailer you can train the watchmakers who will work in your store. This will position your store perfectly to meet the inevitable watch repair demands of the future.

Find talented young people on your staff and encourage them toward a career as a watch service professional. The United States has a dozen schools available to train students. If you have an on-site watchmaker, consider developing an apprentice program that will include certification at one of the accredited schools.

For a list of accredited schools, contact the American Watchmakers-Clockmakers Institute at (513) 352-2100, log on to www.awi-net.org or see Professional Jeweler, January 2000, p. 85.

–by David A. Christianson, Certified Master Watchmaker

David Christianson is fourth-generation owner of Christianson Jewelry, Kendallville, IN. He is past president of the American Watchmakers-Clockmakers Institute, a certified master watchmaker and a fellow of the British Horological Society. Send questions, suggestions and comments to Professional Jeweler, 1500 Walnut St., Suite 1200, Philadelphia, PA 19102; timepieces@professionaljeweler.com.

Copyright © 2001 by Bond Communications