From having the proper training to great online reviews, there’s a lot to investigate when it comes time to repair that special timepiece on your wrist. Our watch enthusiasts offered several suggestions to send you off on your search armed with the right questions.
Kes Crockett, Watch Specialist at Fellows Auctioneers.
Check Training, Insurance, and Repair Location
The obvious answer may be to send it back to the watch brand themselves but often the turnaround time is quite slow. With vintage pieces, there is a delicate balance between condition and originality and collectors may have different priorities than the manufacturers, whose primary concerns are functionality and appearance rather than patina and history.
Alternatively, customers can look for an independent watch repairer. But since there is often no barrier to entry into the profession and essentially anybody can call themselves a watch repairer, several checks would be advisable.
Questions to ask could include:
1. What training have you undertaken to become a watchmaker? There are several qualifications and training programs available including WOSTEP, BHI, SAWTA, and many more. Some watchmakers will have trained on the job after starting as a apprentice and whilst they may not have these qualifications, could be equally skilled at the bench. In these circumstances, a personal recommendation or examples of their work would be useful.
2. Do you have insurance that will cover my watch for damage or theft whilst in your workshop?
3. Will the work be carried out on-site, or outsourced to another workshop?
4. Do you provide a guarantee following the repair? A 12-month guarantee is fairly standard for a full service of a watch. Some watchmakers offer two years or more, although this is often dependent on the age/style of the watch.
5. Are you a member of a trade body or professional institution? These organizations will insist that watch repairers adhere to a code of practice to satisfy their membership.
6. Will you use genuine replacement parts or third-party alternatives? In an ideal world, manufacturer-supplied parts are preferred but often these can now be obsolete or restricted in their supply. Be sure to confirm whether you are happy for the repairer to use after-market parts, which can also be of excellent quality.
Whichever route you choose to go down, be sure to request an estimate or quote before the work is carried out and check whether there will be an inspection of the charge should you choose not to go ahead. Watchmaking is in danger of becoming a dying trade so if you find a good independent repairer, treat them well.
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