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Watch Repair Jobs: Options and Requirements

Learn about the education and preparation needed to become a watch repairer. Get a quick view of the view of the requirements as well as details about schooling, job duties and job options to find out if this is the right choice for you.

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Watch repairers must be trained in the function and design of watches, usually at one of a small number of specialized schools, but sometimes via a college watchmaking and repair program. Once trained, watch repairers can be self-employed or work for jewelry or repair shops.

Essential Information

Watch repair is largely steeped in the tradition of watchmaking and horology. It is a profession for highly skilled individuals who have extensive amounts of training and experience. Watch repairs range from replacing batteries and making adjustments to watch movements. A watch repair job can include making repairs to both mechanical and digital watches. Some watch repairers work for themselves while others are employed by larger stores or shops. Aspiring watch repairers should complete a certificate course in watchmaking and repair and earn relevant certifications.

Required Education Completion of a certificate course in watchmaking and repair
Other Requirements Certifications available
Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)* -26%
Mean Annual Wage (May 2015)* $37,110

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

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Watch Repair Job Options

Watchmaking and Repair Information

Mechanical watchmaking is a time-honored tradition that stretches back well over a hundred years. Many well-known mechanical watchmaking companies have been around for more than a century and are deeply rooted in Swiss horology. New quartz and LCD technologies emerging from Japanese watch manufacturers have still existed for more than 30 years. With millions of watches in the marketplace, there will always be a niche for quality watchmakers and repairers.

Simple watch repairs can include installing new spring bars or straps and replacing batteries. More complex forms of repair can include rebuilding mechanical watch movements, lubricating parts and making tiny adjustments that allow watches to keep time appropriately. Some watches require precise maintenance. For example, chronometers must be regulated to gain or lose no more than six seconds every day.

Career Information and Options

Watch repairers can work for themselves, for others in shops or for large watch producers. This is a small job market in which, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were only 2,700 jobs in the United States in 2014. That number is expected to decline significantly by 26%, from 2014-2024 (www.bls.gov). Most of the employment in 2015 was in jewelry stores or personal and household goods repair shops. The mean annual wage at that time was $37,110, and the top-paying industry was personal and household goods repair and maintenance, with a mean annual wage of $40,700.

Watch Repair Training Requirements

Watchmaking and watch repair go hand in hand since a watch repairer is generally unable to understand how to repair a watch without knowing how that watch was built. To best capture the Swiss watchmaking tradition in the United States, only a few schools offer highly regarded certification courses in watchmaking and repair. The best of the breed offer different levels of certification for watchmaking professionals with courses that cover a variety of horological knowledge and watch repair including:

  • Automatic watches
  • Mechanical watch servicing
  • Adjusting Swiss escapements
  • Timing and staffing balances
  • Quartz or digital watch repair

Completing a certificate course from a qualified school is a way to gain entry into the field. There are some additional alternatives as well, such as completing a watchmaking certificate from certain colleges.

From simple battery replacements to fine-tuning the inner workings of a fine Swiss watch, there's a lot to learn about watch repair, and the most common place to learn it is at a specialized school. There are only a few in the U.S., which makes sense when you consider how few jobs are available in this field. Your best option is to seek work with a larger repair shop or jewelry store.

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