Professional Jeweler Archive: Profitable Repairs: When to Seek Help

August 2001

Timepieces/Education & Repair

Profitable Repairs: When to Seek Help

Every watchmaker should know there are some watches he or she shouldn't repair

Some watches can be repaired, but not at your shop. You may not have the specialized equipment or a watchmaker with the skills to repair these models. Each watchmaker has to decide which jobs to turn away.

Where to Send It?

The first choice should be the factory-authorized service center. It has the most experience servicing that brand.

If a factory service center isn’t available, the work is best subcontracted to a competent shop. The Complete Guide to Watch Distribution and Service from the Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry lists factory-authorized repair centers. Contact the Federation at (201) 291-8811,

In addition, the American Watchmakers-Clockmakers Institute has a referral list of watch-repair specialists available on its Web site, at its headquarters and in classified advertising in its journal, Horological Times. Contact AWI at (866) 367-2924,

Inform the Customer

Always get your customer’s permission to send his or her watch out of your store for servicing or repairs. Never send it out without that permission and its declared value. The choice of carrier is yours, but fully insure the watch.

Contact the shop before sending the watch. Determine whether the shop is qualified to repair the watch in question and has adequate insurance to protect you against any loss.

If you have any doubts, don’t send the watch. If the customer is at all uncomfortable having the watch sent out, don’t accept the repair. Oral permission to send a watch out for repair works for our shop. If you desire, obtain written permission for additional protection.

Check the Guarantee

Always check the guarantee policy of any outside repair shop you use, whether factory-authorized or independent. Ask about guarantees first to avoid unpleasant surprises when a repair is unsatisfactory.

Before delivering any watch to its owner, test its performance and carefully inspect it for any defect in the repair.

Determine the price to charge for these repairs by your own system for marking up work done by subcontractors and providing some profit.

Finally, never accept for repair any watch that may not run satisfactorily after being repaired. These jobs usually take far too long to repair and return as comebacks too often. In these cases, you lose money on the repair and – more importantly – you risk losing a good customer.

by Jack Kurdzionak, The Watchmaker, Stoneham, MA

©2001 Jack Kurdzionak

Jack Kurdzionak owns The Watchmaker, a watch retail and repair store in Stoneham, MA. He is a certified watchmaker, a columnist for Horological Times and secretary of the American Watchmakers-Clockmakers Institute.

Copyright © 2001 by Bond Communications