The American Watchmakers-Clockmakers Institute in conjunction with our industry partners has established a set of minimum standards which all watchmakers should meet. The document, Standards & Practices for Watchmakers, outlines these standards and the details of our certification exam.

A Visual Reference of specific standards is below which can be used by watchmakers, employers, and consumers to judge the quality of workmanship.

Applying Oil to Train Jewels

Properly Oiled Train Jewel Train jewels must be perfectly clean before any lubrication is applied. It is preferable for lubricants to be applied directly to the oil cup after installing the bridge, but they can be applied directly to the pivot of the component before installing it when applying lubricant to the oil cup is […]

Barrel Condition

The barrel complete with mainspring is the power source for the watch, and its condition is very important. The barrel should be completely clean and free of any scratches or damage, especially in the hole for the arbor and on the surfaces where the mainspring will slide. A barrel with damage or excessive wear must […]

Battery Well

When replacing the power cell in an electric watch, it is extremely important to pay attention to the battery well. The battery well often provides direct access to the gear train of the watch. There should be no debris (lint, dust, etc.) anywhere in the watch, including the battery well. The battery should be clean, […]

Buckle or Bracelet Clasp

We often focus on the watch movement, but the case and bracelet are just as important. The case and bracelet should always be thoroughly cleaned before returning the watch to the customer. Depending upon the customer’s request and the brand’s Standard Operating Procedures (SOP), they may also undergo a complete refinishing and refurbishment. Extra care […]

Cap Jewel Preparation

Properly Oiled Cap Jewel   The standard for oiling cap jewels includes perfectly clean jewels with oil expanding to fill an area with a diameter equal to between 1/2 and 2/3 of the diameter of the cap jewel. The oil circle should be perfectly round and concentric to the circumference of the jewel. If it […]

Case Backs

An excellent watchmaker should be able to open and close a watch back without leaving any marks. Very faint scratches may be acceptable in the bottom of a case notch if it has a sandblasted or satin finish, but steps should be taken to prevent those marks. There cannot be any visible marks or scratches […]

Cleanliness and Condition

All components must be perfectly clean and in good condition. No particles of dust, debris, or lint are acceptable. The parts should be inspected for damage or wear. Some items, such as a bent guard pin or fork horn, should be detected during the check of their function. If missed in a visual inspection, chipped […]

Dial & Crystal Cleanliness

The cleanliness and condition of the dial and crystal of the watch are extremely important. These areas are constantly viewed by the owner and are the first and sometimes only impression the customer gets of your workmanship. The standard for these components is that they should be perfectly clean and free of dirt and debris, […]


Drop-lock occurs at the instant when the drop ends and the escape wheel tooth contacts the pallet stone. It is measured as the distance between the corner of the pallet stone and the heel of the escape wheel tooth at the instant the escape wheel tooth contacts the pallet stone. Drop-lock, like total lock, is […]


Proper adjustment and handling of the escapement is absolutely critical to the function of the watch. It is quite complicated and many books have been written on the topic. We will be focusing on the Swiss lever escapement made with traditional materials (steel and synthetic ruby) and covering the standards for adjustment in multiple parts. […]

Guard Pin Shake and Horn Clearance

The guard pin and fork horns are essential components for providing safe action of the escapement when the watch receives a strong shock. The escapement will function normally without them in a stable environment. In most modern watches the guard pin and fork horns are not adjustable, but their function is essential and can be […]


When adjusting balances with the Etachron regulating system, the hairspring should be centered perfectly between the two regulating pins when the balance is at rest at the dead point. The pins should be closed (by rotating the regulator block so that the outside pin moves away from the stud) until there is almost no deviation […]

Hand Alignment and Division

Alignment: The minute hand should point directly at the 12 o’clock (60 minute) marker when the hour hand is perfectly centered on any and every hour marker. This is typically assessed when the hands are at a right angle (90 degrees). A deviation of more than 30 seconds (3 angular degrees) does not meet the […]


The ideal quantities of lubrication on the escapement vary widely by manufacturer and depend on factors such as size and rate of the escapement, as well as whether or not epilame is applied. In all cases, lubrication must be present and must cleanly applied only in functional areas. No lubricant should be present on the […]

Minute Counter Jumper Springs

In a chronograph with an instantaneous or semi-instantaneous minute counter, the minute counter wheel is independent of the other gear trains of the watch and only has tension during the short period when the minute-counter finger is advancing the minute-counter train. The role of the minute-counter jumper is to keep the minute-counter wheel stationary at […]

Oscillating Pinion Engagement-ETA 7750 and Similar Watches

The engagement of the oscillating pinion on the ETA 7750 is a topic of its own because it has a clutch mechanism for the chronograph that is not widely used in other calibers. Engagement of this wheel and pinion does not follow the normal rules for wheel and pinion engagement. Because its construction follows a […]

Screw Condition

When watch servicing is complete, the condition of the screws in the watch should be as good as when the watch was received and, ideally, as good as when it left the factory. If the watchmaker damages the slot or head of a screw, it must be refinished or replaced. Using the wrong size screwdriver […]


Proper shellac is essential to maintain the position of the pallet stones in the fork. Poorly applied shellac can interfere with the operation of the pallet fork or fail prematurely.

Standards for the Location and Appearance of Poising Marks on the Modern Balance Wheels

The poising of balance wheels is typically performed at the factory. Re-poising of the balance wheel is often necessary when a balance staff is replaced or there are other changes to components. The object of poising the balance wheel is to locate the center of gravity at the center of the staff. This is accomplished […]

Stem Cutting

When cutting and preparing a stem to be fit to a crown, the stem must be handled in a way that no damage is done, especially to the threads, hubs, and other working surfaces. The end of the threads that will be attached to the crown must be clean, not have any raised burrs, and […]

Total Lock/Run To The Banking

Total lock is the sum of drop and run to the banking. It must be equal on the entry stone and exit stone. The deign of the escapement determines how deep total lock should be. As a general rule, it should be equal to approximately 1/3 the length of the impulse face of the jewel […]