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What it Takes to Become a Watchmaker

Some say that being a watchmaker isn’t as popular as it once was, and while there may be an element of truth in that statement, it also means there are vast opportunities in the industry as many certified watchmakers approach retirement.  But what exactly does it take to learn and excel at the craft?

Desire

It’s often said that the happiest man (or woman) is the one who goes to a job he or she loves.  When you can do this, there is no drudgery, there is no “hump day”, there is simply the desire to accomplish your goals and enjoy the camaraderie of your peers.  Take the time to define what you want in life and if watchmaking is part of it, be the best one you can.

Dedication

Becoming a watchmaker isn’t a career to be taken lightly, serious study, hands on training and 3,000 hours of classroom/bench work is involved.  In order to be certified by WOSTEP (Watchmakers of Switzerland Training and Education Program) you’ll need to be proficient in the following areas:

  • Micromechanics
  • Mechanical Watch
  • Advanced Mechanical and Electronic Watch
  • Theory
  • Manufacturing
  • Maintenance procedures
  • Horology history

All capped by a final “hands on” exam which includes theory and practical tests.  Once passed you’ll be WOSTEP certified, crucial to your career as a watchmaker.

Planning

You’re never too young to make a plan, if you deviate that’s fine, but at least you’ll have a direction.  If your path is to become a watchmaker you’ll find an industry ripe with opportunities and a starting salary (in the range of) $45,000 to $50,000.  A major watchmaking school cites the following, “For each class of twelve, there are at least fifty separate job opportunities.  You’ll find that most jobs will be located in major metropolitan areas, if you’re a small town boy/girl, be prepared for change.

FACT OR FICTION:

The use of wristwatches has declined sharply with the advent of smartphones, if a person needs to know the time, they simply check their phones.  That’s false; the USA purchases approximately 750,000 (high end) time pieces annually with retail values in excess of $1,500.

Health

While it’s my hope everyone reading this is happy and healthy, be mindful of the long hours sitting at a bench, the keen eyesight required and the (better than average) hand-to-eye coordination crucial to the job at hand.

Precision

Do you enjoy knowing how things work?  Have you ever taken something apart simply to see if you understood the inner workings?  Do you have a curious mind, always wondering if something could be made to operate more efficiently?  The field of watchmaking is based on precision, with micro-parts so small, a mere fraction-of-inch misalignment could cause an expensive watch to fail or lose time. If you’re comfortable working with small parts and determined to see a project to completion, watchmaking could be for you.

Team Spirit

While there are certainly one man watchmaking shops, the great majority of jobs will be working for a large company.  You may or may not see a particular project to completion; your task may only be one element of the final project.  If you work well with others, are able to contribute without excess ego, watchmaking could well be a fine career choice.

Analytical Thinking

Can you visualize a finished project, then work on a random task knowing it is part of the whole?  In watchmaking, “everything has a purpose”; even when it is not apparent to the untrained eye.  The ability to see the whole, then break it part only to reassemble them flawlessly is a crucial watchmaking skill.  It’s likely you already know if this is something you excel at.

As with most things in life, you’ll need to set a goal, then work toward that goal, no matter the distractions from the sidelines of life.

A WOSTEP certified Watchmaker is someone who can find work worldwide, no matter the state of the world economy. There are Wostep certified schools of watchmaking inthe USA, Hong Kong, China and other regions of the world, where it is possible to learn the craft of watchmaking and become part of a very specialist group of experts servicing fabulous luxury watches of the world.