I have never met a man who did not have some kind of fascination with watches. For most of these aficionados becoming a watch repairer, also called a horologist, may be a job that actually never really feels like work.
Classic watches are timeless and functional accessories that are built to last, but even they require a bit of maintenance.
If you’ve ever dreamed of making a career out of fixing timepieces, then this guide is for you. The work of a watch repairer can be demanding, but it also has rewarding benefits that include freedom in scheduling, an elevated sense of responsibility, and opportunities for international travel.
What Does A Watch Repairer Do?
A watch repairer is just what it sounds like. You’ll be helping customers by fixing their broken or malfunctioning watches. Do this by checking the accuracy of the time or using specialized tools to switch out the batteries.
Here are other typical duties and responsibilities of watch repairers:
- Installing watch straps and bracelets
- Cleaning and polishing watches
- Trimming watch straps to the appropriate length
- Fixing winding mechanisms and crowns
- Replacing worn or broken hands-on watches
- Using special tools to examine the inner workings of used pieces
- Identifying counterfeit timepieces
- Inspecting watch movements for damage or wear
- Selling repaired watches to clients
Did you know that a Horologist is the official term for a watch maker or repairer? They are trained and skilled in the science of measuring time and making instruments for indicating time which is known as Horology.
How To Become A Watch Repairer
Attending a watchmaking school is the best way to get started in this trade. It allows you to obtain the hands-on training you need to repair and craft watches of all types. A certified watchmaking course will provide the technical expertise you need to become a sought after horologist.
Like many jobs, the more education you have under your belt, the better. You can always learn some of these skills through hands-on experience, but it’s helpful to have a strong grasp of watchmaking basics before beginning your career.
Most companies require that entry-level watch repairers possess an associate degree or bachelor’s degree in watchmaking. Some watchmakers opt to enter the field as apprentices by completing a two-year program that teaches them technical skills and how to work with larger organizations.
Internships can also be helpful to break into this career because it allows you to build your resume and gain experience.
Here are the specifics on how to become a watch repairer:
- Must be at least 18 years of age
- High school diploma or GED
Education or Training
Now let’s talk about education. Most companies require watch repairers to have an associate degree or bachelor’s in watchmaking. These watchmaking courses teach all the required skills and technical expertise needed to work in this industry.
To meet these requirements, look at educational programs for a bachelor’s degree at a community college or university. If you’re lucky enough, there may even be a watchmaking school in your area. Institutions like the Swiss American Watchmakers Training Alliance can provide annual scholarships.
Internship or Apprenticeship
Another option for education is to take on an internship or apprenticeship. Look for opportunities at your local watch repair shops or jewelry stores. These programs are an excellent way to gain experience and showcase your talents as a watch repairer.
It takes between three and five years of full-time work to become an expert to work independently in this field.
Testing or Certification
Although some companies choose to hire experienced watchmakers with no formal certification, most will favor applicants that have passed well-known certification tests from the American Watchmakers-Clockmakers Institute like:
- Associate Watchmaker. You can use this certification to show employers that you know the basics of watch repair.
- Master Watchmaker. This is one of the best certifications in the watchmaking industry, as it shows that you’re capable of conducting industry-standard repairs.
- Certified Watchmaking Instructor. If you want to share your skills with others, this is an excellent certification to have under your belt.
Recommended Skills For Watch Makers
Learning how to become a watch repairer is not enough. You also need to nurture certain qualities and skills like:
Your hands should be steady and precise when handling the intricate machinery used in this line of work.
You’ll spend hours of each day working on tiny parts, so you need to be able to focus your attention without distraction.
Watchmaking can be a very painstaking process, requiring you to spend hours on tasks that seem simple from the outside.
The best watch repairers can think quickly and come up with a solution when something goes wrong.
Pros & Cons Of Being A Watch Repairer
Every career has its pros and cons, and watch repairing is no different:
- Work in a unique industry that requires both precision and creativity.
- Use specialized machinery like microscopes and lifting levers when doing repairs.
- Stand out from other professionals with your unique skills and expertise in watch repair.
- The work comes with pressure from strict deadlines and expectations. You’ll be dealing with high-end clients that expect excellent service and working in an industry with only a handful of watch repairers.
- It’s hard to find a job in this field without proper education or previous work experience.
- You may have to travel from client to client to get the work done.
- You risk exposure to harmful chemicals and gases during your repairs.
How Much Do Watch Repairers Make?
A watch repairer’s salary will vary depending on the hourly wage and the number of hours they work each week. The average median salary is currently $44,250.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the top 10% of watch repairers can earn a yearly salary of more than $77,000.
Entry-level workers can expect an average annual income between $20,000 and $35,000 per year. However, the higher you climb up the ladder of success, the more money you can expect to make each year.
Some watch repairers get paid on a commission basis if their work is contracted out by other companies. Commission rates vary depending on what service is involved, ranging from 10% of the overall price to around 20%.
Watch Repairer Job Outlook
The future of watch repair jobs looks slightly stagnant.
Data from the BLS shows that the job outlook for watch repairers could dip by 1% in the next decade.
If you’re interested in this line of work, you’ll need to go the extra mile when applying for a job.
Below are some resources that can help you learn more about the path to becoming a watchmaker or repairer.