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Getting Your Start as a Horologist

If you’re reading this, then you’re probably not one of those salty sailors from “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales” talking about their mothers being “horologists.” Those fellows were rather confused about the meaning of the word, but to set things straight, we’re coming at you with the correct definition. A horologist is someone who studies time and timekeeping devices.

Getting Your Start as a Horologist
(Pixabay / maxmann)

Though there is so much more to it than that definition implies.

Someone with the title “horologist” could be a collector, a watch and clockmaker, or someone trained in the repair of these beautiful pieces of measurement, whether they be a hobbyist or a licensed practitioner.

The history of horology

This activity has been put into practice for thousands of years in various forms. For example, the Ancient Egyptians used giant obelisks to track the sun’s movement, several societies made use of water clocks, hourglasses have been in use for hundreds of years, candles would have evenly spaced lines on them to show how much time had passed and sundials used shadows to show the rough hour of the day. Humankind has always invested time (that’s a pun. Get it?) into the fascinating practice of horology.

But these practices were eventually left behind as science and technology grew and advanced, so now, we have wristwatches and clocks, cell phones and microwaves to tell us the time.

If you want to be part of this time-honored art, how do you do it? In this blog, we’ll discuss more about the prerequisites and responsibilities of being a horologist.

Description of the job

Because of the small parts they’re dealing with, the technicians working with watches and clocks need to have an eye for detail, be precise and have good eyesight as they’re often repairing the tiny gears that make a watch go “tick,” cleaning them for reuse or even making their own.

However, more than just having that mechanical ability, those working in this field need to be creative, too. Some design and create their own timekeepers to sell, whether it be for their own business or a corporation they’re employed by.

How to get in

There are several ways to get your path started in this field, some better than others. But if you think it’s time (Yes! That’s another one) you followed your passion for clocks and watches, then do it.

  • Teaching yourself – If this is just a hobby, and you want to be able to make repairs on your own equipment, then teaching yourself is a good, cheap option. There are several YouTube channels and blogs you can follow to learn more about it. There are also online courses you can take. In fact, to start a business in this field, you don’t even need official training or certifications. But if you want to work for someone, technical training is highly recommended.
  • Apprenticeships – Getting an apprentice can give you personalized, hands-on experience in the field. It will take less formal schooling and give you a personalized knowledge, directly from your trainer. The hardest part here would be finding someone in your area that’s willing to show you the ropes. But if you find someone that’s respected in the industry, their experience would be a valuable asset if you decide to move to the big leagues of watchmaking.
  • School – There are schools all over the country, and the world, if this is how you want to do it. These specialized institutions offer hands-on training in the general art of horology (as well as various subspecialties) coupled with professionally recognized certifications. For a list of schools you could attend, follow this link.

What’s it like in that field?

Once you’ve decided how to get started and you’ve gone through the training, you can end up in any number of jobs. You could start your own business repairing and making various timepieces for the locals. Or you could work for a jewelry store as an employee or private contractor. There are also options for employment with major watch or clock brands. Whatever you end up doing is completely dependent on you and your goals.

And once you’ve gotten your job in the field, then comes more than just the hobby: the paycheck. A starting watchmaker typically earns around $30,000 a year, though once you start getting some experience, you can earn upward of $60,000 to $70,000 a year, though that is the top 10% of watchmakers.

Another reason to join this field, though? There are openings. People are retiring, making room for the newbies. And with new advancements happening, the field needs those who understand and can work with all sorts of technological changes.

So, if you want to work in this career, go for it. Feel free to tell people, “I’m a horologist.” Let them question what that means, just like those pirates. And if you want more information on watches and clocks, look into Times Ticking. We specialize in everything from chiming clock repair to relic battery replacement.