Screwdrivers are essential tools for the watchmaker, but it can be confusing. Is Bergeon worth the hype? Is Horotec overpriced? Are you a good watchmaker if you don’t use screwdrivers from any of the big brands?
In this article, I’ll show you:
- My own journey with screwdrivers
- What screwdrivers professional watchmakers use
- My recommendation for a beginner
Let’s jump right in.
My own adventures with screwdrivers
I’ve had quite the collection of screwdrivers over the years.
I started with a 9-piece set of A*F screwdrivers, of which I replaced the blades with Bergeon ones. They were good screwdrivers, but I decided to upgrade by buying individual Horotec stainless steel screwdrivers in the most used sizes.
Somewhere in between, I also bought a set of Beco’s own brand, which look suspiciously like Horotec screwdrivers. In fact, you can’t keep them apart if you look at them side by side.
In the end, I sold most of the screwdrivers apart from the Bergeon 30081-S09 set. It simply feels the best, but it’s a personal preference.
That’s all good, but I’m not a pro. It’s much more interesting to see what professional watchmakers use because they use their screwdrivers day in and out.
So, I jumped on Instagram and asked a bunch of them which screwdrivers they use.
The results might surprise you.
What do the pros use?
- Waldy from Waldy’s Watchrepair uses the Bergeon 6899-S09 and a set of French screwdrivers in a wooden box he bought at Beco.
- Mike from Welwyn Watches likes to use individual Horotec screwdrivers for the sizes he needs most (80, 100, 120) and he uses a Bergeon 30081-S09 set for the other sizes.
- Olivier from O.N. Atelier uses the Bergeon 30081-S09 and an old set of Favourite screwdrivers.
- Sebastian from SM Vintage Watches uses the Bergeon 8899-S10 set.
- Jonathan from Watchmaker watches uses the Bergeon 6899-S10 set.
- Anthony from No BS Watchmaker uses two sets. A Bergeon set like the 3044 (it’s similar, but not exact. Probably an older set that’s since been discontinued). He also uses a 12-piece set of VOH screwdrivers for the more expensive watches.
- Michele from Watchmakerslife uses two Bergeon sets, a 30081-S10 and a Bergeon 5970.
- Allan from Real Time Watchmaker has been using the Bergeon 3044 set for over 30 years.
- Guillem from Guille watchmaker uses a Bergeon 30081-S10 set and a 9-piece set of Cousins’ own brand.
- Henrik from Horologer uses a 14-piece Horotec set which is not available anymore. The alternative would be this 12-piece set.
- Claus from CVurmagi uses a Bergeon 30081-S09 set and a set of Beco’s own brand.
- Oliver from Ohmann watches uses a Bergeon 30081-S10 set.
- Mark from Amsterdam watchmaker uses a 12-piece Horotec set which is provided by Rolex.
- Julian from The Fourth wheel uses the Bergeon 30081-S09 set.
What can we learn from this?
- Twelve of the fourteen professional watchmakers use a Bergeon set.
- The Bergeon 30081 is the most popular set. Seven of the interviewed pros use this set (4 x 30081-S09 and 3 x 30081-S10).
- Three of the professional watchmakers use Horotec screwdrivers. Only two of them use a full set.
- Most watchmakers use multiple sets of screwdrivers. Often, one of the sets has thinner blades to use with vintage watches, for example.
- Three pros use a more affordable set of unbranded or own brand screwdrivers (Beco and Cousins UK).
It’s not really about the brand
Several of the pros let me in on a little secret: It’s not really about the brand.
The most important part of the screwdriver is the tip, and the blades can be replaced. Basically, you’re paying for the handle, plus some marketing and branding.
Sure, you’ll need a decent set of screwdrivers, but here are some things that are more important than the brand:
- A good technique
- Selecting the correct width for each screw
- Maintenance and dressing your screwdrivers
It depends on the situation.
If you’re not really sure about watchmaking and you have a limited budget, an affordable unbranded or own-brand set from Beco or Cousins is the way to go. As I said earlier, the tips are the most important part of the screwdriver, so you can easily upgrade them with high-quality blades.
I would’ve recommended an A*F set, but they’re very hard to get at the moment. Some of Cousin’s own brand sets look very much like the A*F sets, so maybe they’re producing white-label products now.
The 7899 range with the polymer-coated handles sounds great, but I didn’t like them one bit. I like to feel the screwdriver and the movement in my fingers, and the polymer didn’t feel good. It’s like driving a car with heavy-duty boots on.
Horotec screwdrivers are expensive, but they’re very high-quality. Rolex doesn’t provide them for their certified watchmakers for no reason. If you can afford it, go for it.
If you want to experience Horotec quality without the Horotec price, check out the sets from Beco’s own brand.
What are your favorite screwdrivers? Let me know in the comments below.