How To Become a Watchmaker
Here is a guideline on how to become a watchmaker.
Watchmaking is a difficult job that requires much technical knowledge and precise skill from the person who practices it. One can only achieve it with years of training at a specialized institution. There are two ways you can become a watchmaker: doing an apprenticeship or completing a horology school.
IWC Schaffhausen, a Swiss watch manufacturer, offers an excellent opportunity for talented young people to follow an in-depth 3-year apprenticeship. The company requires applicants to have a scientifically inclined mind, manual dexterity, well-developed spatial awareness, an eye for detail, and patience.
You can also take a comprehensive horology course at the British Horological Institute in Upton. Those who are at the beginning of their path can apply for the BHI Level 3 Technician Grade qualification. You can take this course remotely and complete it from any part of the world. Alternatively, you can study horology at the British School of Watchmaking.
The 1800-hour course will teach you quality control, encasing and maintenance, while the 3000-hour course focuses on micromechanics and adjustment. Birmingham City University offers a 3-year horology program centered around the history of horology, the theory of horology, and watch design.
Apprenticeship vs Horology School
Apprenticeship is the traditional way of learning watchmaking. Being in the same room with a professional watchmaker allows you to observe him working and get personal advice that will help you improve your practical skills. Being focused primarily on practice, apprenticeships offer less theory. Another drawback is that finding an internship in watchmaking is difficult nowadays.
When it comes to horology school, there are many institutions around the world that offer programs in this field. The environment is more social as you learn alongside other fellow students. You also acquire a large baggage of theoretical knowledge about different aspects of horology. The disadvantage is that there are few opportunities for training your practical skills. However, some courses pay much attention to this aspect.
There are some innate skills a person must possess to become a professional watchmaker:
Attention for detail
Having an eye for detail is crucial in horology because you have to work with tiny watch parts. Without excellent attention to detail, you may not be able to assemble the watch correctly and find flaws in it.
Watchmakers will not succeed if they are not patient and calm during work. When dealing with tiny parts, you will come across many problems that take time and patience to solve. For example, fitting certain parts together. You may not be able to fit them together from the first try.
Sometimes it takes several attempts to assemble the watch properly. If you are impatient, you may lose your temper while trying, which will make you perform even worse.
As a watchmaker you will have to deal with many different watches, hence you will need to use different approaches to each of them. You need to be flexible, so you find a solution in every new situation.