The Swiss Watchmaker Deficit


If you've ever thought about becoming a watchmaker, now's a great time to jump in the game. The mechanical watch industry is on fire but there's a severe shortage of quality watchmakers to service these increasingly complicated pieces. More watchmakers are retiring than those coming into the workforce. On top of that, watches themselves are more and more complicated requiring a level of skill and expertise not needed just a few years ago. As these watches need service, who is going to service them?

If you are interested, the Nicolas G. Hayek Watchmaking Schools are one example of where you can get a WOSTEP (Watchmakers of Switzerland Training and Educational Program) education.

Categories: Swiss Watch News, Watch Repair, Watchmaking.

Comments (6)

  1. I grew up with a grandpa who was very obsessed with watches. Thanks for the tip. I’ll hopefully start with my watchmaking hobby soon.

  2. Be advised that unless you want to work in a compay and do the same job over and over, your future is extremely limited by the swiss watch industry. Over sixty swiss watch companies will not sell you the spare parts pramount to work as an independent watchmaker.
    That method brought the independent watchmakers down from 38,000 to approximately 4,000 in the U.S in the last two decades. Not by what is manufactured in Switzerland but by greed of the major Swiss brands, and their obssession to monopolize the watch servicing worldwide by killing the competition in the watch servicing performed by independent watchmakers.

  3. Thanks for the information i have personally worked on a number of watches myself but never thought of making it a profession. But if such a school is available i hope to go to it some day.

  4. I’m a third generation watchmaker and I love my job. I am certified with most Big brands like Cartier and Breitling. A lot of people don’t realize that, to become a watchmaker, one would have to spend years in schools and even more time working at the bench. It is much easier to get a bachelor’s degree in computer science than to get a bachelor’s degree in Horology. Even though it is true that major Swiss brands have monopolized the watchmaking/servicing market, with the business booming, they are starting to realize that it is not easy to service all the watches they’ve sold over the years. Most Swiss brands are overwhelmed by the volume of watches that are coming in for service. The wait time is getting extended and with some brands it can be up to and over one year. Every person that can change a battery in a watch will call themselves a watchmaker. Most “watchmakers” that are out there are watch technicians. It is a known fact that up to six people can work on a watch at a time, preforming different tasks, at almost any Big brand’s after sales service center. That can get really mundane after a while. It is the Watchmakers that are out “in the field” that work on different problems, different complications, different watch brands and types are the true flag barers of the Swiss watch industry, unfortunately overlooked and unappreciated by the same industry that was built on their backs. If you want to become a watchmaker, just make sure you’re willing to put in the time. No pun intended.

  5. Roman,

    Most Swiss brands monopolistic practices are enforce and decimating the watchmakers as we speak. The second effect on our trade is also the closing of schools.
    Cartier is not a good example to any watchmaker, exchanging movements which is what you have to do can be done by any person with a hour of training. The cost of most of Cartier movements are so inexpensive that they are discarded never repaired.
    But that is not what Cartier wants the consumers to believe, they claim doing a “Complete Service”, properly described on their web site and charging for such but in reality never performed. That ruse is easily explain by a simple math: while a “Complete Service” average a hour of work, a movement exchange is performed in less than fifteen minutes, therefore while a costumer believe he paid a Cartier minimum charge of $445 for a hour work he actually paid for a fifteen minutes job and Cartier is actually charging their repair at a minimum of $1.780 per hour!!!!
    I must state that if you wish to become a watchmaker and open your own place think twice, parts are the watchmakers biggest obstacle.
    The Swiss watch companies indulging in parts restriction are shooting them-selves in both feet, independent watchmakers to stay in business have to satisfy their clients, that should be appreciated by any companies to have satisfied consumers. But no, greed is taking over and these companies want to eliminate the competition, the independent watchmakers. An average watchmaker will only improve by having the original parts and technical information available, but certainly not by using whatever they can find and use their imagination on how to do it.
    How much longer do these Swiss companies, over sixty as we speak, think they can sell a watch and believe they retain ownership of that watch by forcing the consumers to be at their mercy? What we see today is simple the Chinese are selling major parts restricted by the Swiss. Are they the same quality, for some of course not, for others exactly they are already made there. Some goes even further, they have these Chinese parts engraved Swiss Made and sold at Swiss price.
    What will these bureaucrats in charge of our watch industry will do when watchmakers will be a name of the past, where do they think improvements and new invention comes from, Swatch should know they advertise heavily their co-axial escapement, George Daniels the inventor was an independent watchmaker, independent watchmaker Swatch and others are working so hard to put out of business.
    What is happening in Switzerland lately, even our banks are losing it, today they are selling out their own citizen by giving foreign government all information on their Swiss bank accounts.

  6. That was an wonderful article, Me and my dad shared wonderful moments making watches, but I’m really afraid that the watchmaking hobby is almost going to be extinct.

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