Article for those interested in a Watchmaking Career

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  • #49371
    Bob Tascione
    Moderator
    • Topics Started: 38
    • Total Posts: 1559

    Here’s a short but interesting article if you’re wondering about the demand for watchmakers in the world market. Be sure to click on ‘next page’ when you get to the bottom of the first page. Took me a while to figure that out! :D
    http://newsok.com/watchmaking-still-a-viable-industry/article/5379516/?page=1

    Enjoy,
    Bob

    #61087
    randy
    Participant
    • Topics Started: 39
    • Total Posts: 594

    Man…!
    Only six people in the class, and that was a large one ???
    I guess there’s plenty of room yet for us !

    Thanks for sharing Bob…very insightful !

    #61088
    bernie weishapl
    Participant
    • Topics Started: 58
    • Total Posts: 1218

    Great article. I think for those working on antique watches it is going to be fine. I think those working on the modern watches are having troubles. I have heard on a couple of other forums I am on that the swiss are cancelling their accounts. We have a few trying to get the DOJ to get the Swiss to sell parts to all watchmakers. One of my friends had a Rolex account for over 20+ years and had his account cancelled along with his Cartier, Fossil, and 4 other accounts I can’t remember. He had those 7 accounts cancelled after many years of having them. No explaination or anything. I think the Swiss are wanting to create a monopoly on sales and service. What amazes me even more is a friend said he had a client with a Cartier wrist watch. He told him if he could get parts it would cost him $700 to clean, oil and repair but said he can’t get parts anymore so he would have to send it to the factory. When it came back his friend said the repair bill was $3900. That just isn’t right. If you use a generic part for on a Rolex and then has to go to the factory they warranty is void and they won’t work on it. So I won’t even take a modern watch in the door. Just not going to waste my time on them anymore trying to scrap up parts. I guess the Swiss are setting up service centers and if those running it sell parts to other watch repair people they will lose their center and parts account. So from what I have heard a lot of these kids at these watch schools are being hired by the Swiss in service centers but under very strict rules. Going to be interesting to see where this goes in a few years.

    #61089
    randy
    Participant
    • Topics Started: 39
    • Total Posts: 594

    Very true Bernie…you must be reading (some) of Bob Frei’s commentary. I’ve been seeing the same comments .
    I guess we just start telling folks to buy other brands when they have the option,..letting them know that if they buy Swiss,..they’ll get stuck later on.

    Sad that they feel the need to do this..it isn’t like the Swiss watch industry is hurting.

    Best,

    Randy

    #61090
    arutha
    Participant
    • Topics Started: 85
    • Total Posts: 1536

    This whole parts supply business is causing problems here too and has been getting worse over the past few years. The British Horological Institute have tried to speak to the various companies but they can’t push them too hard as it is these companies money that keeps the BHI afloat from what I can gather. Therefore their members are left out in the cold when they too have their accounts cancelled. The one body in this country that might possibly have influence (the BHI) is being subsidised by the Swiss watch houses.
    They saw this coming a while back and instead of doing anything constructive about it decided it was best to stay put in their old listed building that costs a fortune to keep as that is the best way to spend their money.
    All very very sad.
    I don’t know what the answer is but as has been said many times before, if you can make your own parts and the customer doesn’t mind paying you will be making a healthy living from this. For those of us who can’t make parts, we now have to seriously consider every job we take in because if we break a part during the service we are in trouble! Is this going to mean having to charge for a complete strip down just to see if the job is viable when we are faced with a non running watch when the problem isn’t obvious or do we just refuse it?
    Paul.

    #61091
    namonllor1953
    Participant
    • Topics Started: 21
    • Total Posts: 152

    Bob,

    Thanks for the Article, I think it’s pretty informative and thought provoking. Please understand, I’m not the brightest bulb on the tree when it comes to modern business practices.

    Paul,
    I’ve been talking to friends about my new endeavour and I keep comming back to the thought that, I can make some of my parts (probably all, if I really put my mind to it) and that is exactly what happend when I read this article. I need to say that, as a kid, I always thought I wanted to be a tool and die maker (didn’t even know what the hell they did but, my dad always talked about that trade with love in his voice and wonder in his eyes, I ended up in the arts) but, life kicked in and I took a different route.
    At any rate, I became disabled and was going crazy with myself and I went to Vocational Rehabilitation and after many tests, I was told that machining would be ideal for me. I went to a vocational institute and tok up the craft. After 18 month’s I was sent on my way and two years later Social Security help put me in business as a Bamboo rodmaker. I’ve got to hold to some pretty tight tolerances, .0005″, which is about 1/8th the diameter of a human hair.
    If I can do it, anybody can do it and the proof is I’m presently working with someone who, if you knew him, you’d say “No way Ren, he’ll never be able to…” and yet, he is. He just has to be patient and pay attention.
    Reading the others responses, why would/should we let the Swiss corner the market?? Again, if I can make parts, why can’t others? There are plenty of guys out there, way better than I at machining miniature parts.
    Maybe we need to re-examine how much we need to make/charge. Maybe we need to try to achieve RR Gade workmanship… It was done before with less accurate equiptment than what we have today.
    I’m pretty sure that watch/clock makers are a pretty bright bunch of people. Why not try to come up with a workable solution to a real negative situation.
    Again, I’m not the brightest guy on this list, I know that, but there has to be some sort of a solution to this.

    Respectfully,

    #61092
    bernie weishapl
    Participant
    • Topics Started: 58
    • Total Posts: 1218

    Paul I hear ya with the BHI. Over here the AWCI has lost around 60% of their members. Last I heard they are down from about 5000 a few years ago to around 1100. They are losing more each year and most of those sticking around are the ones that passed the CW21 test which was a requirement for a parts account and some of those are losing their accounts. AWCI I heard was robbing the perpetual fund just to keep afloat but now Rolex and several other Swiss companies are giving thousands of dollars a year to them and I guess that is why the AWCI won’t fight for the members because they can’t afford to lose their cash cows. Pretty dang sad that the org supposedly representing thousands of watchmakers won’t fight. I was told if they lose all their funds from the Swiss AWCI would probably go down. NAWCC has their membership growing over the years when AWCI was losing.

    When one of the members of another forum I am on took Cartier to court the president and past president of AWCI went to court for the Swiss saying they represented over 3000 watchmakers so they would speak for them and that there was no problem with parts. Andre and the 300 watchmakers who took Cartier to court lost and with that all lost their accounts. Andre had his account since Cartier came into being and is a Swiss trained watchmaker. Several years of training.

    Ren the problem is not making the parts. Andre says he can make any part needed but how do you make parts for all those high end quartz watches. You got to have parts. You just can’t make a coil, chip, etc. He said some of the high end mechanical watches have parts that are just about impossible to make. So yea you can make parts but some ya just can’t. Like he said doesn’t make any difference how good you are there are just some parts that are impossible to make.

    #61093
    randy
    Participant
    • Topics Started: 39
    • Total Posts: 594

    Bernie.
    Thanks for steering us to the litigation brought on by Mr. Andre Fleury.
    Here’s a link..this has been going on for a few years !

    http://www.nytimes.com/2008/04/02/style/02iht-rwatchUS.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0

    http://fleury.com

    Randy

    #61094
    namonllor1953
    Participant
    • Topics Started: 21
    • Total Posts: 152

    Hi Bernie,
    You don’t make parts for those high-end quartz watches. You stick to mechanical watches and come up with “THEE” marketing plan.
    Quality?????? C’mon, I see people buying crap all the time and paying top dollar for it. Veneered press board “Federal Furniture”, in a million and a half dollar house. Lake Hollingsworth, Lakeland, Florida. Blows my mind. Not a dovetail to be found!!!
    I’m not disagreeing with you, not at all but, truth be told, people will buy what ever is well marketed. Chocolate diamonds, Big Mac, on and on and on.
    Just because it came from Ethan Allen don’t mean squat anymore. (I know because I worked for them).
    Maybe I’m just wishing to hard….
    Anyway, Have a Healthy and Prosperous New Year my friend.

    #61095
    bernie weishapl
    Participant
    • Topics Started: 58
    • Total Posts: 1218

    Ren wasn’t trying to rain on your parade. I agree 100% that any mechanical can have parts made or most parts can be made. High end quartz are here and now no matter how they are marketed and what we think. You and I could probably make everything we need but most can’t. Anyway it is the thought.

    Have a Happy Healthy New Year.

    #61096
    chris mabbott
    Participant
    • Topics Started: 119
    • Total Posts: 1525

    Ah, those daffy Swiss chaps. Now here’s a funny thing..

    Last year I picked up a Swiss watch, in Switzerland, as a gift. After 7 months it ceased working 😮
    It was a quartz model, but still, it was not an inexpensive watch.
    I figured that it was the battery, something which I could have easily fixed myself, BUT, it would have voided the 5 yr warranty. So after much searching for an authorized dealer in my area, I dutifully took the watch for repair.

    They told me that they would have to send it to Madrid to the official service center, and that they only sent their watches via courier, which would cost 50 euros each way 😯 so we’re already at 100 euros before we start..
    I grudgingly agreed..
    After 6 weeks I’d heard nothing back, so I called the place and they said another week. One month later I received a call that it was ready and that the charge was 175 euros!
    I asked the guy what the problem was, he said it was the battery. I screamed with hands in the air WTF 175 euros for THE BATTERY 👿
    What about the warranty, I asked expectantly? Oh, was the reply, warranty doesn’t cover the battery. But it was part of the original equipment and I was sold a watch with a battery that should have lasted for at least two years….SORRY.

    So to sum it up in brief..
    To change the battery on a 7 month old Swiss watch took just over 2.5 months and cost 275 euros.

    So at these prices and level of service, no wonder they’re reluctant to “spread the wealth and joy” 🙄

    #61097
    bernie weishapl
    Participant
    • Topics Started: 58
    • Total Posts: 1218

    That is insane Chris. That would be about $335 US dollars. What amazed me was the friend that was telling me it cost $3900 for his watch to be repaired was it was 4.5 months and after my watch buddy looked at it all they did at the factory was exchange the whole movement. Different serial number on the movement. 😆 You talk about a rip especially when most of those movements don’t cost but a few dollars. Just highway robbery in my books.

    #61098
    maitai11
    Participant
    • Topics Started: 62
    • Total Posts: 428

    Thanks Bob, for that article. You know what burns me about this whole thing, is that there are so many requirements that have absolutely nothing to do with watchmaking that couldn’t be taught to any one of the watchmakers I know. I looked at the entrance requirements…they want a candidate to have trigonometry or calculus, take an SAT or ACT test with minimal passing grades, etc. Seems to me that there are some great watchmakers out there who learned whatever they needed to know through books and their mentor. Figures. It takes a stuffy bureaucratic school to take something and make it more difficult, when that information could be readily available to the right candidate…you know, the one who can steady their hand while oiling an escape wheel, like that?

    : /

    Tim

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Bob TascioneArticle for those interested in a Watchmaking Career