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: email@example.com. 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: firstname.lastname@example.org
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