I hope you didn’t think I’m talking about finding Mr./Ms. Right? This is a watch and clock blog, people! No, I’m referring to finding the ‘One’ professional who will be the best fit for servicing your prized timepieces. It is human nature to try and cultivate lifelong relationships with the people who take care of the things most dear to us, for example, our doctors, pediatricians, spiritual leaders, dentists, auto mechanics, hair stylists, etc. (Yes, hair stylists – I know some people whose hair stylist IS their spiritual leader.) The point is, we will gladly spend the time and effort to find the best fit. And so it should be when taking care of our watches and clocks.
Technology offers us tens, if not hundreds, of options instantly from which to choose. Think Yelp, the online Yellow Pages, Google, etc. So how do we narrow down the playing field to find that one special watch/clock repair service? Several thoughts come to mind as I write this.
First, thanks to the postal service and other specialized shipping services, we no longer have to limit our search to jewelry stores and/or watch and clock repair shops within driving distance. These shipping services can get your item to the right repair person in a safe and expedited fashion, whether it’s for a simple battery replacement and tune-up on your Seiko dive watch or to restore your great-grandmother’s clock.
Second, the internet is also a wonderful place to find specialized information on reputable watchmakers and repair persons via trade and professional websites, such as the National Association of Watch & Clock Collectors and the American Watchmakers Clockmakers Institute. These sites often have resource tabs listing certified professionals all over the nation. And third, social media has given all of us a pretty extensive network of acquaintances, friends, and family. Some of the best shops are smaller operations whose main marketing tool is word-of-mouth advertising, so it makes sense that this network could be a gold mine for finding a quality professional.
Once you have your list of potentials together, it is time to play reporter and get all the facts. Below are a few important questions to ask:
- Will the work be done on premises, and if so, by whom? Let the shop know you would like to speak directly with the person doing the work on your watch or clock. If that’s not possible, it’s not necessarily a bad thing, but it’s just one more layer separating you from the actual craftsperson doing the work. If the work will be sent out, find out to whom it will be sent and for how long. If the item has to go back to the factory, find out exactly what will be done there. Sometimes a manufacturer will “refresh” your watch as part of the general repair, updating and replacing parts. You don’t want the original hands or the bezel on your antique 1945 Rolex watch replaced if they don’t need to be.
- Find out more about how and where the shop’s technicians were trained. Are they certified with any professional watchmaking institutes? Are technicians offered regular opportunities for continuing education, for example, taking a manufacturer’s course on Breitling watch repair? There are so many brands and types of watch movements out there that a professional will likely be learning until they retire.
- Read their online reviews. Some things to look for are a client’s satisfaction level with the work done, value for cost, and whether or not they plan to use the repair service in the future.
- Make sure there is some sort of guarantee on the work being done. Quality watchmakers will guarantee their work for a certain period of time after the service or repair is completed.
- Ask for an estimate before any work is started. Also, ask if there will be a charge for the estimate. It is not uncommon for shops to charge a fee for the estimate, especially if the watch or clock needs to be taken apart to some degree to determine the problem. Ensure the estimate contains the cost of parts and labor, and should a new issue arise during repair, then insist on knowing the costs before any work is done.
- Once you have the estimate, ask where they are getting the parts. Do they have them on hand or will they get them elsewhere? Will they use genuine or generic parts? What are the trade-offs of each? Are they a shop that doesn’t really spend a lot of time on sourcing rare and hard-to-find parts or do they pride themselves on finding those kinds of parts? Their answer will figure into how long it may take for the repair.
- You get what you pay for, so don’t expect a high-quality cleaning or repair for a dirt-cheap price. Quality watch and clock repairers are craftsmen who have invested a lot of time and money into their businesses and their hourly rates will reflect that.
- Once the repair or service is complete, get a detailed report of the work that was done and what, if anything, was replaced. You also have the option of asking for your original parts back. Keep all your parts and records in a file for future reference.
If all goes well and your repair is a quality job, then you now have one more trusted professional to add to your network. If not, take advantage of the guarantee to get the issue resolved and move on to the next shop on your short list. And as you search for that special shop, keep us in mind. Our Swiss-trained technicians stand ready to meet all of your timekeeping needs, from providing quality service to searching for rare parts. We’re here to offer a relationship, not just a one-night-repair.