Thanks for choosing the “Repairing Clocks and Watches for Profit” report series. It’s good to hear that you have a desire to carry on this old and fascinating trade. If your interest is mostly as a hobbyist or collector but you were curious to see what tidbits of information you might glean from these reports then that’s good too. You should receive some interesting and helpful information in this series.
Very few people are getting into any type of clock or watch repair business these days and the number of us that are already active in the business is rapidly dropping. This drop is not for lack of work or interest, we’re just
getting older. We need new people.
If you’ve already looked into a repair or buying and selling business or know of someone that is successfully active in either or both of them then you most likely know that this can make an enjoyable and rewarding part and possibly full time business. There are some dangerous pitfalls though that must be avoided with any service business if a profitable, stress free business is at all important to you. We will cover those pitfalls in a future report and discuss simple techniques to maneuver around those dangers which can suck the vital force out of you and your business.
For now, let’s take a look at what it takes to get started.
I have received many emails from students with questions and concerns about starting a part or full time business in watch/clock repair and/or buying and selling timepieces (I’ll try to cover the buying and selling topic in a future series) and decided that this might be a good time to pass along some of what I’ve learned about the subject.
Here’s a quick list of the most often asked questions.
- Can I learn enough to start a business without going to a formal school.
- When will I know it’s safe to begin repairing for others?
- How will I find customers?
- What tools will be needed?
- How much money will be needed to purchase the necessary tools?
I’ll attempt to address these questions and more in this series of reports.
The first question I’m usually asked by aspiring horologists interested in
repairing timepieces for profit is whether or not one can learn enough to begin a clock or watch repair business by studying books, videos and online courses rather than attending a formal clock or watchmaking school. My answer to that question would have to be yes and no. YES you can learn enough theory through all of the above methods and NO, you should not rely on ONLY one of them if you wish to make this a business. What I said here applies equally to my courses as well as formal schools. You will find that most people in this business have read many books, have watched many videos and have taken more than one course.
Clock and watchmaking are very old trades from which have evolved thousands of different movement designs, repair techniques, tools etc. The learning process is literally endless. This is what keeps the profession fascinating for us even after many years of working with timepieces. Not a day goes by where most seasoned clock and watchmakers don’t learn at least a few new things about the trade.
You don’t need to know everything about horology, repair techniques and the intricacies of all the different types of timepieces to run a successful business. There are repair techniques and fundamentals that apply to most clocks and watches which can be learned from books, videos and courses. These techniques may vary slightly from one type of timepiece to another but most can usually be figured out as you go. This is why practice, practice and more practice is so important. Theory is great and absolutely necessary to learn but applying this theory through hands on practice is the only way to reach proficiency and a confidence level necessary to safely apply these repair and restoration techniques to a timepiece. This is especially true when working with watches. Dexterity plays such an important role in watch repair and dexterity comes from hands on practice.
It would be great and is often tempting to bypass the practice portion of the learning process but this usually leads to frustration and even disaster in a business that requires such precise, dextrous repair technique.
I know what I’ve said so far may sound a bit discouraging. I just want to stress the point that a careful and methodical approach to starting a horological (or any) business might make the difference between success and failure, happiness and frustration.
Although it’s easy to put yourself into a stressful position when dealing with customers and time constraints it’s also fairly easy to avoid falling into this dark pit of stress when the business is approached correctly. I fell into that pit many years ago and barely climbed out alive. I’ll delve deeper into that story in a future report and will show you how to avoid what I went through and to keep control of your business, your hours and your sanity so you can make this the exciting and rewarding venture it’s meant to be. For now though please just realize that in this business shortcuts only lead to long, seemingly endless winding roads. There is a good, safe path to take and I’ll do my best to lead you to it.
In the upcoming report we’ll discuss the next question on the list about knowing when it’s time to take in that first repair.
Adios until tomorrow.
I CANNOT GUARANTEE YOUR FUTURE RESULTS AND/OR SUCCESS. THERE
ARE SOME UNKNOWN RISKS IN BUSINESS THAT I CANNOT FORESEE WHICH
CAN REDUCE RESULTS. I AM NOT RESPONSIBLE FOR YOUR ACTIONS OR
YOUR RESULTS. AS WITH ANY BUSINESS SOME ARE SUCCESSFUL AND SOME
ARE NOT. PLEASE BE CAREFUL AND RESEARCH AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE
BEFORE ENTERING INTO ANY SERVICE BUSINESS.
17 thoughts on “Clock & Watch Business Report 1”
This looks like it’s going to be a very interesting series.
Thanks for commenting Brian. I’ll try to keep adding to this as it’s such an important topic. Please feel free to ask questions you may have if you’re considering starting a business. There are also others up here reading these reports who have had many years experience in this business who can add a great deal to this discussion. It can be such an enjoyable business when approached correctly.
Thanks Bob for all the great reports. Looking foward to the rest. Take care. David
You’re very welcome David. Thanks for being here and all the best to you this Holiday Season!
Thanks Bob looking forward to tomorrow
It looks like some of the replies were quite old but I hope all the information is available. I have had my eye on clocks for a very long time and now at 60 years I’m going to do something. I have a grandfather clock I was able to get to working, it just chimed the half hour. They are music to one’s ear. I have a Seth Thomas nautical clock that the bell need some work. Some day when I know more. I have been blessed with some tooling from a friend that bought a home that belonged to an old tinkerer. He dabbled in clock repair or work I have what I took and added from what I have found on EBay for nothing. There are deals out there just gotta look for them. I am looking forward to all I can learn from you. I do not have the money at the time but I will be one of your students soon. Bob you are blessing to all that would like to get some degree of understanding clocks and what makes them tick. Have a great day and looking forward to learning as much as I can.
thanks bob i just want to let you no tha iam looking forwed to all in the clok/watches to cum thanks agen bob ken
Thanks Bob great reading
Great cant wait till tomorrow. Thanks Bob
You bet Miguel,
Hope you enjoy tomorrows report.
Thanks for reading and take care for now.
Interesting series Bob, I am very fortunate to have a mentor with 25 years of experience in clock , watch and machining help me. So when I get stuck with a project I can go to him for answers. I agree that reading books , watching videos and online courses is good but there is nothing like hands on. I learned that in the small engine and power equipment trade. Another thing, I would encourage people to not be afraid, get that clock and take it apart , inspect , service, reassemble and see if it works. If you get stuck find some help. That has been my experience so far and I am enjoying what I am doing. It is been a little over a year of learning for me. I didn’t know anything about clocks but have learned a lot since, but it was when I delved in to the hands on that I really understood how clock work. I hope this helps.
Very helpful suggestions Antonio!
Thanks for posting
I will definitely follow these series carefully as I plan to retire in 10 years from now and make the hobby become a business, no stress, no rush, no huge profits, a combination of quality work, relaxed environment and enough income to pay some bills. Not sure if this is a good approach but I am on my 40’s and absolutely love everything related to old school mechanics. I have been working hands on with automotive mechanics for more than 26 yrs either professionally or as a hobby but with so much electronics these days the cars are becoming very boring to work on. Initially I though watches wouldn’t be that difficult to work with but I was very wrong. I distroyed 2 waches with wrong tools and my heavy hands so I decided to educate myself and get serious about it. I do want to make this hobby a business whatever it takes, how long it takes so I will really appreciate any given piece or information and detail. Thanks for all the great info and the passion you have to share with all of us.
Thank you very much Bob. I am brand knew in this field. I’ve spent most of my life in the fire service (firefighter) and currently in the fire equipment service business. I guess I think as I approach retirement, it’s time for a change. Thank you for being so willing to share your extensive knowledge with people like me. I will continue to enjoy your courses, research, read and practice. Although the “practice” part has already gotten me in trouble with my own clock. Oh well, mistakes happen, live and learn. And best of all no lives are in danger because of it! Keep up the good work.
Cannot thank you enough for info you are getting to us. This hobby has gotten me so far in the hole I guess its time to try and crawl out and stop all the free repairs which i just kinda write off as the cost of learning. Think I am pretty well tooled up, but then along comes another repair and..well you know. Am really looking forward to your next installment.
Looking forward to receiving these reports. Learning from the experiences of others in the field is always a very effective education. I just finished your clock repair course and although I have been taking care of our collection for fifteen years, I learned several new things that will be valuable to me.
Fascinating report. Full of challenges and motivation to excelance. Look forward to the next report. Bill Heslop