Watch and clock repairers clean, service, repair and sometimes restore watches and clocks and, if they work in a shop, may also sell them.
You could be:
removing the mechanism from the casing, taking it apart and examining it for faults
removing damaged or worn parts and repairing or replacing them, sometimes with parts you have made
cleaning and oiling the mechanism
putting the watch or clock back together again, testing and adjusting it
restoring the casing of antique or valuable timepieces, including de-rusting the metalwork and re-painting the face
renewing batteries in watches and clocks and using electronic equipment to diagnose faults and repair them
fitting new watch straps and bracelets
maybe specialising in one area, such as repairing and restoring antique clocks or clocks in public areas or designing new ones
selling watches and clocks, as well as jewellery and other precision instruments such as barometers
using a pressure tester for water-resistant watches.
The figures below are only a guide. Actual pay rates may vary, depending on:
where you work
the size of the company or organisation you work for
the demand for the job.
Salaries for watch and clock repairers range from £15,000 to £25,000 a year. With experience this can rise to over £30,000 a year. Specialist repairers can earn over £40,000 a year. Self-employed repairers can earn more.
You are likely to be based either in the workshop area of a retail business or in a specialised repair firm.
You will carry out repair work at a bench, using hand and machine tools and optical aids.
You may be sitting and leaning over a work bench for long periods.
You will usually work in a quiet and dust free environment.
You may also visit customers’ premises, particularly to repair large timepieces.
You will usually work regular hours, although Saturday is often included. Part time work is sometimes available.
A relatively small number of employers may offer a traineeship. They may not ask for formal qualifications, but some subjects at National 4 or 5 such as English, Maths and science or technological subjects will be an advantage.
The British Horological Institute (BHI) offers a Level 3 Diploma in Clock and Watch Servicing by distance learning. This can take up to 12 months.
Birmingham City University offers a degree course in Horology. Check their website for entry requirements.
West Dean College in Sussex offers a Postgraduate Diploma in Conservation of Clocks and Related Objects, and a Graduate Diploma in Conservation of Clocks. For entry you need a degree or technical qualification in a relevant subject or experience in horology.
Most openings are with small employers, either specialised repair firms or retail jewellers. Some watch and clock repairers may work in centralised service workshops or in the museum service.
the ability to work on your own and plan your workload
a steady hand and agile fingers to do intricate work
to be able to take measurements and prepare technical drawings
good business skills if you are self-employed.
You will train through practical experience with an employer, combined with specialist courses.
The training courses are only available in a limited number of areas, so you may have to attend courses away from home or to study by distance learning.
You could study further at the BHI with qualifications such as Level 4 Diploma in the Servicing and Repair of Clocks/Watches and Level 5 Diploma in the Repair, Restoration and Conservation of Clocks/Watches.
The British School of Watchmaking in Manchester runs a one year course (1800 hours) or two year course (3000 hours) affiliated to the Watchmakers of Switzerland Training and Education Programme (WOSTEP) syllabus. Students are sponsored by the watch companies that fund the school. It may be possible to apply as a fee paying student.
You may be able to specialise in a particular field, such as restoring longcase (grandfather) clocks.
With experience, you may be able to work in the related field of manufacturing and repairing other precision instruments.
Many watch and clock repairers go on to become self-employed, or run a franchise in a department store or shopping centre.
Horology is the science of the measurement of time and the art of clock making.
The British Horological Institute (BHI) is the UK organisation for those with an interest in, or involvement in, clocks and timekeeping. There are membership grades for both amateurs and professionals.
The Creative and Cultural Skills website has a section on jewellery which covers careers information, jobs and opportunities in jewellery including watchmaking and repair.