Archive for the ‘A message from the president, Manuel YazijianIndustry News’ Category

A message from our President – December 2013

Friday, December 20th, 2013

Dearest member,
      As you read this message, you are most likely being asked for those special requests to finish that rush job just before the holiday season—we all know how that is. In my experience, December is always an exciting and busy time with sales and service quite often taking precedence over each other, and things can get quite blurry.
     Having said this, I will again discuss a topic I have discussed on many occasions since becoming president in August 2012, and that is quality of workmanship and price structure. By now, many of you who have followed my messages have come to realize my leadership is focused on workmanship of the highest standards. However, standards are hard to define if you cannot also show a clear example of them in practice. Regardless of the number of words printed on this and other pages, the written word cannot compare to a close-up picture of the item in question.
     Last month I discussed the use of the binocular microscope for the watchmaker at the bench. While for many this is a rather exotic item to have at or near the workbench, for others it is a standard item to have at the bench. The human eye has its limitations in viewing small objects, and since we live in the world of miniature items, a good microscope with a range of 20 to 50 power magnification, with several sources of powerful yet cool lighting, can be a great advantage in ensuring high-quality work and can help with troubleshooting. Once you experience the advantage of using the microscope, a whole new world of better work will be opened to you—but you will not know it until you try it.
     Of course, the usage of the binocular microscope has an initial effect of lowering productivity as the technician sees more things that can be potential problems. With sufficient practice and experience, a watchmaker can learn to set up the microscope in a convenient location where time is used efficiently, and only key areas of the movement are verified.
     Having touched upon the above where quality workmanship is truly being scrutinized and standards defined, let us talk about what keeps the lights on—the business aspect of the profession.
With higher quality being expected, more time is spent on a task, and, therefore, less is accomplished each day. However, better-quality work lasts longer and therefore you have fewer premature comebacks. The customer wins, the watchmaker wins, and the retailer wins by gaining a better reputation. This reputation is goodwill, which in turn translates into higher sales, the initial reason the retailer opened the retail store, right?

The following line is an interesting concept:
A service center does not necessarily have to be a profit center as long as it is a profit generator. 

To explain further, it basically implies a service center is designed to support the sales of merchandise; therefore, a high quality of workmanship is always required, and it is expected the service center should at the very least break even or at most make a profit of approximately 20–30%. This age-old formula has worked relatively well for service centers for a long time.
     Upsetting this formula is unfortunately quite easy, as many managers/retailers like to increase profit margin. However, it comes at the dear cost of quality. The higher the net profit margin, the higher the probability that shortcuts will be taken. It’s easy to take shortcuts, and the most susceptible target is the watch movement itself, which is hidden from the customer’s view and, therefore, it is hard for many watchmakers to assess since they mainly use one eye and a loupe of about 4x magnification. When the façade or the exterior of the timepiece is made the main focus, it becomes easy to cover up questionable workmanship.
If there is always a shortage of good quality horologists, perhaps it is because their highly valuable skills and knowledge are not always properly remunerated. What is a fair price to charge for a good watch repair?
     As friend and AWCI member Matt Hritz, CW21, said to me last year, “What if we were to ask the client, “How much does it cost to get a haircut?” With that in mind, we calculated that if one got a haircut on average 10 times a year at an average of $20 per basic haircut, that would translate to $200 per year. Over five years it would translate to $1,000 spent to maintain one’s hair. The price, I am told, is much more if you visit a “hair stylist/salon.” If today’s water-resistant mechanical watch functions five years on average between services, the haircut analogy could be used, and it is something many clients can relate to. Now, let’s think of what a barber invests in education, tools, and equipment versus what a watchmaker does, and it makes you think about your pricing structure all over again.
     As a closing message for this year, I wish you all a safe and happy holiday season enjoyed with your friends and loved ones with continued health and success for the upcoming year. It is my sincere wish that all of you continue to work while striving for the unattainable—perfection. Tools, equipment, workshop setup, education, and training are only a few parts of the equation.The ultimate goal is the final product, and isn’t that what really matters to us?


Manuel Yazijian, President AWCI

A Message from the President – Manuel Yazijian, CMW21 04/2013

Thursday, April 11th, 2013

As you are reading this message, spring has already arrived and I hope you are enjoying the milder weather. This is a great chance to further engage in outdoor activities.

One of the main characteristics of a person involved in the field of horology is the posture many of us have to maintain, and that is of being seated and hunched over a desk/workbench. While there are several schools of thought of which may be the best position, which workbench height is the best or which chair is the most ideal, one thing is for sure, the human body is being asked to be in a certain position for a prolonged number of hours, e.g. eight hours a day.  It appears, however, that the human body was designed to be physically active, judging from the number of joints we have.

While many of us pride ourselves on attaining that best balance wheel amplitude, best delta rate, best finish on a wheel pivot or a case and bracelet, yet how many of us think about the physical condition in which we are in?  Since it is a generally accepted principle that, in order to produce good quality work, certain workshop conditions must be met, such as properly functioning tools and equipment, good lighting, clean environment, etc.  How about the most important element in the equation? You!

Just like you properly maintain the rest of the tools and equipment for best performance, the human body requires regular maintenance and adjustment for continued best performance, so a well-balanced lifestyle is crucial.

There are many types of physical activities that you can embrace if you are just starting out. Start slow and steadily increase over time (it can be months) without overly exerting yourself. Stronger muscles are needed for proper function just as you need your sharp eyes and steady hands. Depending on your age and current physical fitness, you may want to begin with simple walking, hiking or swimming, among others. There are also the “eastern arts” such yoga, Tai Chi and similar forms of gentle exercises which focus on overall health of body and mind. These types of activities will not only help with your physical fitness, but also with your mental alertness and focus. You can even incorporate some of these gentle exercises every day when you take a 15-minute break during work; you don’t have to wait to go home or to the gym for a full-blown intense workout. Once you feel comfortable with one form of exercise then keep moving one level up.  

In addition to being physically active, keep in mind that if you maintain a proper and healthy diet, it will help keep you fit for the life career you have chosen. Be sure to stay hydrated while at work by drinking enough water. The right quality and combination of fuel will only help enhance your performance in the journey of life.

In the end, exercise and physical activity are a great way to feel better, gain health and have fun. Just like you take good care of the customer’s watches and clocks, so must you take the necessary time to take good care of yourselves.

And as always, keep your skills honed, your standards very high, your attitude professional, your tools and equipment in great condition and your workshops clean and organized; you never know who may come by to pay you a visit.

Manuel Yazijian


A Message from the President – Manuel Yazijian, CMW21

Monday, March 11th, 2013

March’s Horological Times

I n last month’s message I talked briefly about the strategic action plan that took place in our headquarters in Harrison, Ohio from January 31st through February 1st. Mr. T.D. Hughes, a well-respected local consultant who helped us work toward our action plan, facilitated the specific meeting. In effect, we identified our top priorities, our critical success factors (CSF’s), then outlined the goals and their owners for each of those CSF’s. Our next step is to begin the implementation of this plan that will take place over the next one-to-three years, as outlined below.

1    Leadership and Financial Planning led by Manuel Yazijian: The goal is to have better communication between the Board of Directors and staff through regularly- scheduled communication in order to help with financial planning, monitoring and meeting of the critical success factors. Keith Rosser, our CFO and interim Executive Director, will help facilitate these meetings via the use of modern technology. Some further goals are to produce monthly operating statements that are to be shared with Board members and staff, as well as the creation of an annual financial plan. The latter will be comprised of a quarterly review, number of potential membership renewals, actual renewals, as well as the acquisition of new members and their retention.

2    Improved Certification Process led by Chief Examiner, Wesley Grau: This involves the formation of a special task force for the purpose of reviewing and revising the CW21 certification program. The intent is to stay up to date with the most recent developments in our supply chain, to review and improve the content of the exam, as well as to ensure financial neutrality of the overall program. For this reason, the current certification program is in review mode and the current target is to roll out the pilot phase in the month of June, 2013. Stay tuned for updates and more solid dates.

3    Staff Development and Needs led by Keith Rosser: The goal is to confirm the assessments, define roles and responsibilities, determine skill sets and gaps that exist, plan for improvement and create scheduled employee reviews.

As a watchmaker and clockmaker still making a living working at the bench, I would like the culmination of our efforts to be in the best interest of my fellow watchmakers and clockmakers. I know very well how difficult it is making a living at this profession when you are faced with so many barriers. This may include the difficulty and sometimes near impossibility of obtaining spare parts, the very onerous and challenging aspect of the technical side of our profession, the small profit margins in comparison with the high level of skill involved, among others. There is so much fine art and precision in what we do, yet it is for the most part hidden from the customer’s view. If they could only see what we can really do…

While your volunteer Board members, whom you’ve elected to look out after your interests, are doing their job as they promised, can you, in exchange, perform the repair without leaving any trace of your presence? Give yourself that challenge every time you work on a timepiece and you will have accomplished a major feat. It would also help us know our efforts are well appreciated.

In the meantime, keep your skills honed, your standards very high, your attitude professional, your tools and equipment in great condition and your workshops clean and organized; you never know who may come by to pay you a visit.

Manuel Yazijian

A Message from the President – Manuel Yazijian, CMW21

Tuesday, February 19th, 2013

February’s Horological Times

As I write this message, the AWCI Board of Directors met at AWCI Headquarters in Harrison, Ohio for our Strategic Action Plan. The Board and staff participated in an interactive session facilitated by Mr. T.D. Hughes, a well-respected business consultant. This meeting was held over four days, from January 31st through February 3rd. You may remember my October, 2012 message, where I stressed the need for proper business planning—I am keeping true to my promise.

Over the course of the last three months, we gathered feedback from the general membership and compiled this to help us with our planning. We also solicited input from the various members of industry, including, but not limited to suppliers, manufacturers, retailers, service centers and all those who are members of the Industry Advisory Board. Many of them attended to help us plan for the growth of our industry. We did our utmost to please everyone, while also knowing we could not be “all things to all people.“

As you may be aware, you were represented at this meeting by the various Board members who you helped elect. Based on their election platform, they were voted in and they were your eyes, ears, and most importantly, your voice at the meeting. Collectively, we also listened to your concerns and your suggestions and used these at this important meeting. However, keep sending in your suggestions and your concerns at any time—it will help us build a stronger you!

As a reminder to all, Board members pay their own way to travel to these meetings and have been doing so for a number of years now to help save on the Institute’s finances. They do this because they are dedicated individuals who care about you and want to give back to the profession. Many of them are just like you, making a living at the bench; therefore, they lose considerable income when they are away from their workplace. Please be sure to thank your representing Board members for taking the time to help make your life a little easier.
This Strategic Action meeting was an important one as we recognize our industry—as all industries—is continuing to change. During the meeting we reviewed the state of the repair industry, spare parts, finances, certification, timely communication, education reform, and staffing needs among others.

This will help us stay on track and plan our goals and implement them over the course of the next five years. By keeping up with the changes and trends, we stand less of a chance of becoming stale. Next month, I will give you more of an update on the results of our meeting.

Talking of stale, when was the last time you ordered fresh oil for your watches or clocks? If the oil bottle does not have a production or expiry date, it’s time to toss it. Some manufacturers recommend a fresh bottle every 2 to 4 years—and not 24 years!

I am always looking for dedicated individuals to serve on committees. If you would like to serve, please visit, proceed to the ABOUT US link and on the left hand column, choose COMMITTEE VOLUNTEER FORM. Fill out your information and click SUBMIT. Or, you can complete the form on page 29. If you have questions, you can contact me at the e-mail address below.

In the meantime, keep your skills honed, your standards very high, your attitude professional, your tools and equipment in great condition and your workshops clean and organized; you never know who may come by to pay you a visit.

Manuel Yazijian


A Message from the President – Manuel Yazijian, CMW21

Tuesday, January 1st, 2013

January’s Horological Times 2013

I trust you’ve had an enjoyable and festive season with your family and loved ones; now let’s start an exciting new year. My preceding two messages concerned proper business planning, methods of enjoying your practice, the state of the industry in general, and to a certain degree, spare parts. It would be quite safe to say that, without access to the required spare parts, practicing after-sales-service is a futile task. It is important to note that some of the world’s most successful watch brands have pathways in place for independent watchmakers to obtain spare parts, pending on training and tooling, among other criteria. More information on this model is available.

This month’s message however, is geared specifically to those who are watchmakers, certified or not, working for companies of various types and sizes.

With the increased production of Swiss mechanical watches since the early 1990s, we find ourselves with an abundance of watches that require service and this will be so for some time to come. Unlike quartz watches, which were easy to repair and quite often easier to simply replace, mechanical movements, mostly automatic winding in nature, require complete service to exacting standards.

Having said this, you may come across workshop managers who are not understanding of these specific requirements. Their message quite often is that of pushing work out as quickly as possible, even if the mechanism is not repaired to the standards you learned while in the educational stage of your career. Some of your manager’s goals may be to lower your standard of workmanship to satisfy lower market prices, to increase productivity, or to simply perform substandard workmanship because that’s the only standard they’ve known.

You are now faced with a dilemma. Do you lower your standards because this employer affords you an employment, perhaps health care insurance and paid holidays, etc.? It’s a tough situation to be in, especially if you have dependents. Don’t feel singled out; there are many who have traveled down this path before you. They also had to make this difficult decision whether to lower their standards to keep their employment. After all, work seems to be plenty and customers can’t really tell what was done inside the watch as long as the case and bracelet are polished and refinished.

What can be the consequences of such a practice? One of the main ones is that your employer, seeing that you have agreed to lower your standards, will be tempted to press you even more to take shortcuts until the product is truly abysmal in quality. In the eyes of your employer, and to a certain extent, the client, you will be seen as  the person to blame for poor quality work and therefore, a higher comeback rate.

What happens now? You have traded your standards, your reputation and self-respect for someone who has little regard for this profession. How long will it be before you look for other employers (or customers) who truly admire and understand the art and science of watch repair? How long before you lose the precious art and skills you have painstakingly acquired?

If you are forced to practice shoddy workmanship for whatever reason, feel free to document these events and contact the Ethics Committee at the following email address: moc.icwanull@mmocscihte. You may also contact me directly. This practice will be documented and investigated by the Ethics Committee and your matter will be dealt with in the utmost of confidence.

I end this month’s message with the cartoon below which our Vice President, Wesley Grau, shared with me. This was given to him by one of his former watchmaking instructors. I find it summarizes the state of the watch repair industry. Notice the publication date—1956. Not much has changed since then.


Feel free to contact me by e-mail to see how AWCI can be of assistance to you: moc.liamgnull@naijizaym

As always, keep your skills honed, your standards very high, your attitude professional, your tools and equipment in great condition and your workshops clean and organized; you never know who may come by to pay you a visit.

 Manuel Yazijian, CMW21



Wednesday, November 21st, 2012

Richemont has job opening for CW21’s and CMW21’s in major metropolitan areas. Please see our Career Center for complete details.

Congratulations to These Members Who Have Recently Achieved CW21 Certification!

Wednesday, November 21st, 2012

Michael Chiu                         Houston, TX

Vanessa Contreras              Scottsdale, AZ

Ross Cunningham                Moline, IL

John Dorety                        Oakdale, CT

Ritchie Greening                  Seattle, WA

Eric Hisey                           Tacoma, WA

Steve Hurst                        Raleigh, NC

Keith Lantz                         Stanfield, NC

Stewart Lord                       Evans, GA

Tam Luu                             Walnut Creek, CA

Brenden McDougal               Beltsville, MD

Jonathan Truxillo                 Baton Rouge, LA

Jason Woods                       Lititz, PA

Link to Video: Ficklin Article on Atomic Wristwatch

Friday, November 2nd, 2012

The October issue of Horological Times features a fascinating article on the Atomic Wristwatch by Jordan Ficklin, CW21. It begins on page 15 and at the end we refer you to a video on the subject which can be seen at the link below. Other “must-read” articles in this issue include the restoration of an historic pocket watch buried underwater by Hurricane Katrina, plus another article by Jordan Ficklin on Stephen Forsey of Greubel Forsey.


Thursday, October 25th, 2012

FedEx, one of AWCI’s affinity partners, has a grant for small businesses. But hurry – you must enter by Nov 17, 2012! (see link below). It’s open to anyone. Also, check out the various discounts you can get from FedEx and FedEx Office by being a member of AWCI. Go to your member log-in page and it’s under Member Benefits and click on the FedEx section.

New Perkins Book Is Selling Fast!

Tuesday, September 11th, 2012


The new Perkins book is going quickly—over 20% of our inventory was sold in just the first week!  To order your copy of Antique Watch Restoration, Vol. 1 by Archie Perkins click here. Remember, AWCI members get a 10% discount.

Archie’s book signing was also a big hit at the recent AWCI convention in Denver. He also graciously gave everyone 2 free signed copies of his renowned hand-done illustrations.

Archie Perkins

AWCI would like to thank Archie for everything he did at our convention—and everything he has done for the horology industry!

Watch for Volume II coming soon!