As a watch collector, you should learn how to service your own watches.
I don’t want to proclaim that everyone can easily learn how to do so. I don’t want to proclaim that we don’t need professional watchmakers. Don’t fetch the toolbox to immediately start tinkering with your vintage Rolex.
I’m talking about servicing a nice manual wound mechanical watch that you bought at a flea market. Or maybe you won a nice lot of mechanical watches on eBay that you like to restore. When you’re more experienced, you could also maintain your own collection.
There are several reasons why I think that you should learn how to service a watch.
- It adds an extra dimension to the hobby. You’ll appreciate your timepieces more, especially the mechanical part.
- Being able to wear a watch that you’ve serviced or restored yourself is extremely satisfying.
- You’d be able to save money if you could perform basic services or minor repairs yourself.
- You’ll appreciate watchmakers, and the work they do, more.
How to begin?
The most important things for a watchmaker are knowledge, training, and experience.
If you want to become a professional watchmaker you should join a watchmaking school, simple as that.
Typically, this is a 4-year program. Many brands require mandatory separate courses or masterclasses to stay up to date.
Watchmakers always keep learning and gaining experience because there are so many different movements and even types of movements. It’s the same as with your driving skills. True experience comes with flying solo after you’ve passed the test and received your license.
You can’t expect to have good results (or any results at all) without any clue what you’re doing and why. Being a professional watchmaker requires years of education and training. So, be prepared to spend a lot of time studying, researching and practicing.
But what if you don’t want to become a pro but simply want to learn as a hobby?
Basically, everything I’ve said is still true except for the official watchmaking education. Instead, you can do any or all of the following:
- Read books, manuals, and blogs
- Watch videos on Youtube
- Ask questions on forums and interact in topics and discussions
- Attend courses. I know that the NAWCC regularly organizes beginner workshops on how to service a mechanical (pocket)watch. Surely, there has to be something similar near to where you live.
- Take an internet course like TimeZone watch school.
- There are also DVD-courses that you could buy. Study at home at your own pace. Many of the companies that started with DVDs or even video switched to online courses. DVD-courses are still available, though.
If you’re serious about learning how to perform a basic service, this info will help you. Some say that it’s necessary for an instructor to be able to teach you. Others say that it’s better to learn the basics and then develop your own style.
Either way, this will go a long way. With dedication, perseverance, and practice you will learn it. Don’t let someone tell you otherwise.
I understand that you’re eager to begin servicing your watch. But it’s not a good idea to dive into your watch all guns blazing.
Be prepared to learn and expect to ruin (a lot of ) watches in the beginning. To minimize headaches, I like to propose the following “rules”.
- Keep away from your valuable or rare watches. Don’t even think about your Rolex Milsub or Patek Calatrava. Really…even your Omega Geneve isn’t safe.
- Don’t start on complicated watches, like chronographs. There is plenty of time to tackle those if you truly master the manual winding and the self-winding movements.
- Stay clear of heirlooms. Do you really want to ruin the watch of your late grandfather? Leave those to the pros.
I promise that you’ll successfully service your first watch within a couple months. A significant milestone in your hobby that will taste like more.
Do you service your own watches? Are there any timepieces that you won’t touch? Let me know what you think in the comments below.