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How to Get Into the Watchmaking Industry [Complete Guide]

How to Get Into the Watchmaking Industry [Complete Guide]

There are two ways to get into the watchmaking industry, either joining an apprenticeship or going to horology school. Explore here!
Mar 27, 2024

We’ve been talking about watches and recommendations a lot on this blog. One question might arise, how to get into the watchmaking industry? Well, being a watchmaker is indeed one of the unique careers you can pursue. It starts as a hobby and helps you earn money from your enthusiasm towards timepieces. 

The captivating world of watchmaking combines precision engineering with timeless craftsmanship, making it a truly rewarding pursuit for enthusiasts. So, if you ask “how to become a watchmaker”, this article guide you on the path to entering this esteemed profession. 

From acquiring knowledge and skills to exploring educational options and practical training, let’s delve into the fascinating realm of watchmaking and discover how to embark on this remarkable journey.

What Do Watchmakers Do?

Professional watchmakers are skilled artisans who specialize in the intricate craft of creating, maintaining, repairing, and restoring timepieces. Some watchmakers work independently at their workshops while others might work for manufacturers or in factories.

Some of them also use machines to finish some processes, such as gear testing and winding. Either way, they are responsible for the following works:

Watch Assembly

Watchmakers expertly assemble the various components of a timepiece, including the movement, dial, hands, and case. 

They meticulously fit and secure each part, ensuring proper alignment, functionality, and aesthetic appeal.

Movement Servicing

They perform regular servicing and maintenance on watch movements to ensure their accuracy and longevity. 

This involves disassembling the movement, cleaning each component, inspecting for wear or damage, lubricating parts, and reassembling everything with precision.

Watch Repair

When a watch encounters issues, such as timekeeping inaccuracies or mechanical failures, watchmakers diagnose and repair the problems. 

This can include adjusting the escapement, replacing worn-out components, repairing or replacing damaged gears, and calibrating the watch to ensure optimal performance.

Read also: How Often Should You Service A Mechanical Watch?

Complication Assembly

Some watchmakers specialize in assembling complicated timepieces that feature additional functions beyond displaying time or watch complications, such as chronographs, perpetual calendars, moon phases, or tourbillons. 

They possess advanced knowledge and expertise in handling the complexities associated with these intricate mechanisms.

Customization and Modification

Watchmakers with advanced skills and creativity may engage in customizing or modifying timepieces. 

This can involve creating unique dials, hands, or bezels, incorporating precious stones or materials, or adapting existing watches to meet specific customer preferences.

Quality Control

They also play a critical role in ensuring the quality and accuracy of timepieces. They meticulously test and regulate watches to meet industry standards for accuracy, water resistance, and durability before they are released to the market.

How Much Do Watchmakers Make?

If you want to get into the watchmaking career, you certainly want to know the potential salary for this profession – you indeed need to learn about this. 

It’s important to note that the amount will vary depending on the location, experience, and skills. Watchmakers would most likely work 40 hours per week. 

Based on data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the annual average salary for watchmakers is approximately $45,290.

The geographic profile reveals that New York has the highest median range for watchmakers, with an average of $57,850 per year. However, other states such as Michigan, California, Illinois, and Georgia also offer competitive salaries in the field of watchmaking.

Read also: 5 Best Microbrand Watches for Collection in 2023

How to Get Into the Watchmaking Industry?

You might think of starting independent learning to get into the watchmaking industry. The fact is there are two main paths to become a watchmaker, either to start an apprenticeship or enroll yourself in a watchmaking school.

This is not to say that you don’t need independent learning. It is absolutely important to familiarize yourself with the knowledge of watchmaking. But joining an apprenticeship or going to school ensures that you are in a professional care and learning environment. 

Watchmaking Apprenticeship

Apprenticeships provide a hands-on approach to learning watchmaking skills directly from experienced professionals. There are several benefits of joining an apprenticeship as you will be under direct supervision from professionals.

It offers the opportunity to work closely with seasoned watchmakers who provide guidance, mentorship, and practical training. Learning on the job allows apprentices to observe techniques firsthand, work on real-time pieces, and gain practical experience.

Further, apprenticeships often focus on specific aspects of watchmaking, such as repair, restoration, or specialized techniques. This focused training allows apprentices to develop expertise in their chosen area.

Horology School

On the other hand, watchmaking schools provide structured education and comprehensive training programs specifically designed for aspiring watchmakers. There is a number of institutions around the world that you can choose from.

Different from the apprenticeship programs, schools offer a structured curriculum that covers a wide range of topics, including horology theory, technical skills, movement assembly, complication assembly, and repair techniques. 

This comprehensive education equips students with a solid foundation in watchmaking. Schools also often have experienced watchmakers as instructors who share their knowledge, expertise, and industry insights. 

Graduating from a reputable watchmaking school can enhance credibility and provide a recognized qualification that can be advantageous when seeking employment or starting one’s own watchmaking business.

Apprenticeship vs. Watchmaking School

If you ask which way is best to help you get into the watchmaking industry, the answer really depends on your personal preferences. Both can help you achieve your dream to become a watchmaker but, just, through different paths.

As apprenticeships allow you to work directly under the mentorship of trained professionals, it can benefit you from one-to-one advice. Moreover, it has more opportunities to learn the practical side of watchmaking. 

In this case, you may miss out on academic knowledge and it’s also quite difficult to find apprenticeship programs nowadays.

On the other hand, watchmaking schools open opportunities to learn knowledge from the very basic to the advanced theory. As you’ll learn in a school, you will also be surrounded by fellow learners. 

However, some courses might lack practical teaching as they only tell you about something without always showing you how to do it in real-life experience.

It’s also worth noting that some individuals may choose to combine these paths by first completing a watchmaking program at a school and then pursuing an apprenticeship to gain practical experience.

Read also: History of Watchmaking: A Brief Journey from the Early Days to Now

Important Soft Skills to Become a Watchmaker

While technical skills and knowledge are crucial for a professional watchmaker, several soft skills are equally important to get into the watchmaking industry. Below are the soft skills you need to become a watchmaker:

Attention to Detail

A keen eye for detail is essential to get into the watchmaking industry. As a watchmaker, you’ll be working with intricate components and delicate movements. 

Attention to detail ensures precision in assembling, diagnosing, and repairing watches, contributing to the overall quality and functionality of the timepiece.

Patience and Perseverance

If you want to become a watchmaker, it requires patience and perseverance, as it often involves working with tiny parts and intricate mechanisms. 

It can be a meticulous and time-consuming process, and being patient in your approach allows you to give the necessary attention and care to every aspect of your work.

Problem-Solving Skills

Effective problem-solving skills are vital for a watchmaker. You’ll encounter various issues, such as diagnosing faults, identifying the root cause of a malfunction, or finding solutions to intricate problems. 

Developing a logical and analytical mindset enables you to troubleshoot and resolve issues efficiently.

Adaptability and Flexibility

The watchmaking industry is ever-evolving, with new technologies, techniques, and trends emerging. 

Being adaptable and flexible allows you to embrace changes, learn new skills, and stay updated with advancements in the field. It also enables you to adapt to different projects and client requirements.

Conclusion

Now that you’ve learned how to get into the watchmaking industry, we hope you can start preparing yourself now. Becoming a watchmaker is an enriching journey that demands dedication, knowledge, and a genuine love for the craft. 

By cultivating your passion, acquiring essential knowledge, pursuing education, and gaining practical experience through apprenticeships and internships, you can develop the skills necessary to excel in this intricate art form. 

Read also: Watch 101: The Basic 9 Parts of a Wrist Watch for Beginner

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