How Can I Work In Watch Repair Or Become A Watchmaker?

Mike H. from New Jersey, USA asks:

I am an avid watch enthusiast with a great job that affords me a lot of time off each month. I am looking to work in a watch store and learn how to repair and sell time pieces. what is the best to break into the watch world and become a respected watch repairer/broker/etc.? And thank you for the survey it has lead to me several more excellent watch sites just like yours, keep up the good work.

There are a lot of ways to "break in to" the watch industry, but it sounds like what you want to do is actually work on watches. This is admirable and can be rewarding work for the right people. Watchmaking is a skilled profession and requires a dedication education. Though there are a lot of self-trained autodidactic watch makers out there. Having said that, if you were a watch store or a watch repair facility who would you want to hire? Someone who went to watch making school or someone who told you that they taught themselves?

In Switzerland basic watch making school is a four year program typically starting right after or during high school. Though there are people who enter the watch making profession later. Sadly, there are only a few watch making school in the United States. Probably the most popular one is Litiz in Pennsylvania. Another very popular one, especially today is the Nicolas G. Hayek Watchmaking School in Miami. I've heard that sometimes brands like Rolex and the Swatch Group will pay for your education if you work for them for a while after school. But I don't know the current details of the program. A good source for more resources and advice about US watch making schools is the National Association of Watch & Clock Collectors.

So while you can certainly strive to become a US trained watch maker, it is a process involving a serious eduction. Sure there may be some watch makers who are willing to accept you as an apprentice, but that no doubt would be a purely situational occurrence and nothing to rely on. Watch repair is a big business and there are major hubs in Texas, Ohio, Florida, and other places. To be seriously considered as a full or part-time hire it is advisable to have the right education. The good news is that good watch makers ARE in demand.

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  • karsonb

    Picking the school is dependant on what you would like to once you’re done. For instance:do you want to go work for a big name like Rolex or go work for the Swatch Group? Or perhaps work for a “reputable jewelry store”, or start your own watch repair store. Personally I feel that Lititz is the go to school if you’d like to work for a jewelry store and then go on to get CW-21 certified. Obviously (or maybe not if you don’t know who he is) the Nicolas G. Hayek in Miami is good for Swatch and Rolex and they indeed don’t charge tuition. The only thing you have to pay for is tools-which is about $3,500. There are 3 or 4 others that are smaller and good to learn the business inside out and have a focused hand-on training. For instance Gem City College in Quincy, Illinois which has been around for well over 100 years and is quite reputable. This is actually where I’m planning on going on a few month.
    Watchmaking is a very rewarding and can be VERY lucrative if you go about it the right way.

  • JordanJohnson2

    I didn’t realize that their was still such a large market for watch development and repair. Since everything has gone digital with the advent of smart phones, I would have thought that the market would have contracted far too much. I guess I gotta watch (pun not intended) what is going on in the market.

  • HollieTruesdale

    They actually have a 4-year program in Switzerland that is dedicated to watch making? There are a lot of well-made watches that come out of that part of Europe, so I shouldn’t be surprised, but that is a long time to learn the craft. I wish we had more dedicated art programs like that in the States! There are still a lot of people that wear watches and they will need to be replaced and repaired by people that know how the watch works.

  • avalaurie86

    I knew Switzerland took watches seriously, but I didn’t think it was being entire life of work for them. To the point where making watches take as much time as a bachelors degree. This is why there are ahead of the game in this field.

  • Gary Puntman

    I had a friend in high school who worked as a watch repairer.  I don’t think it would be too hard of a job since he did it when he was in high school.  There is probably some thorough training that goes along with this.  Talking with a watch repairman would be a good way to get started.

  • Mom Of Chac

    Even cleaning a watch can be tricky especially
    if moisture creeps in. If you’re stuck for help, check out I have used them many times. Very helpful!

  • James Rusch

    Very informative post, I love watches. I own huge selection of watches and I have been collecting different watches for last 7 years. I would surely have been a watch repairer, If I was not a doctor today. I prefer to repair my watches. They offer wonderful service.