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Job Photographs

  • A man is sitting at a workbench.  He is looking at the mechanical insides of a clock.

    The insides of clocks and watches can be complex with very fine workings. A good eye for detail and a steady hand are needed to repair them.

  • A man is sitting at a workbench.  He is carefully restoring the face of a grandfather clock.

    Restoration can involve engraving, painting and polishing as well as dealing with the mechanical workings of the clock.

  • A man is sitting at a workbench.  He is speaking on a telephone and looking at a clock face.

    Talking to customers and suppliers by phone and in person is part of the job.

  • A man is cleaning the inner workings of an old clock.

    Old clocks and watches might have been neglected for years. The first task is to clean them.

  • A man is making a template for a new clock face.  He is holding a photograph of a clock face in one hand.

    Making a template for a new clock face with only a photograph for guidance.

Watch and Clock Repairer

Introduction

Watch and clock repairers service, repair and restore watches and clocks. They use small specialist tools, including eyeglasses and tweezers. Most repairers work as either watch or clock repairers, becoming more specialised to repair very complex mechanisms.

Horology is the name given to the science of making and repairing watches and clocks, and measuring time.

Also known as

  • Clock and Watch Repairer
  • Horologist
  • Repairer, Clock and Watch

Video: - Ross: Horologist

Work Activities

Watch and clock repairers inspect, dismantle, clean, and replace or repair damaged parts. They also make high precision parts to restore watches and clocks to full working order.

They use tools including eyeglasses and tweezers to inspect the parts inside watches and clocks. They may then remove worn or damaged parts, perhaps replacing them with parts that they have made themselves.

Watch and clock repairers clean and oil parts, reassemble them and test the watch or clock for accurate time keeping. Repairs also involve fitting new batteries and making adjustments to straps.

The wide range of skills that watch and clock repairers gain often leads them to specialise in a particular area.

For example, a watch repairer will be expected to have the skills necessary to repair both mechanical and quartz watches but may decide to specialise in one area. Some repairers specialise in electrical/electronic work.

Clock repairers may specialise in domestic clocks or public clocks. Other areas of specialisation include the restoration of antique watches and clocks.

Watch and clock repairers may also sell watches and advise customers on which to buy. Some may also sell jewellery. Work normally takes place in a shop or workshop.

Antique repair work may involve travelling to customers' homes.

Being able to read, write and speak Welsh may be an advantage when you’re looking for work in Wales.

Personal Qualities and Skills

As a watch and clock repairer, you need:

  • To be patient and have good practical skills.
  • Nimble fingers and a steady hand, as you'll be working with small or delicate objects.
  • To be able to work with accuracy and precision.
  • To pay attention to detail.
  • Good communication skills.
  • A well-organised personality.
  • To be able to measure and calculate correctly and, in some cases, produce technical drawings.
  • A mechanical aptitude.
  • Good concentration and the ability to work on your own.

Self-employed repairers need selling skills, a well-developed business sense and the ability to get on with many different types of customer.

Some repairers need to be able to spend long hours sitting at a workbench.

Pay and Opportunities

Pay

Pay rates for watch and clock repairers vary depending on which part of the industry they work in, and their role and responsibilities.

The pay rates given below are approximate.

Watch and clock repairers earn in the range of £12,500 - £17,500 a year, rising to £21,500 - £30,000 a year. Specialist restorers can earn in the range of £40,000 - £50,000 a year.

Pay levels depend upon the employer, the levels of work and sales.

Hours of work

Watch and clock repairers usually work a basic 39-hour week, Monday to Friday. Those who work in shops are likely to work on Saturdays.

Part-time work is available. Self-employed watch and clock repairers may work from home.

What's happening in this work area?

The industry is very short of competent technical staff, so there are good opportunities for new entrants.

Where could I work?

Some workshops, such as manufacturers' service centres, employ a number of watch and clock repairers. However, most repairers work in small firms, often made up of the owner and one or two assistants.

Most small workshops take work in from shops, although some shops or department stores have their own workshops.

Many watch and clock repair businesses are attached to jewellery shops.

Opportunities for watch and clock repairers occur throughout the UK.

Self-employment

Opportunities occur for watch and clock repairers to work independently, as self-employed repairers.

Where are vacancies advertised?

Vacancies are advertised in local/national newspapers, trade industry publications, at Jobcentre Plus and on the Universal Jobmatch website.

Entry Routes and Training

Entry routes

The usual entry route is to apply directly for trainee vacancies.

Training

Training is usually by part-time or day-release study while working for an experienced watch and clock repairer.

The British Horological Institute (BHI) provides a distance learning course, leading to nationally accredited qualifications.

The BHI course is divided into three grades: the Technician Grade leads to the Diploma in Clock and Watch Servicing. The Intermediate Grade and Final Grade provide study towards the Certificate in the Repair, Restoration and Conservation of Clocks/Watches. Training usually takes up to three years to complete, but timescales are flexible.

The BHI runs short seminars at Upton Hall in Newark, Nottinghamshire.

Birmingham City University runs full- and part-time courses leading to the three BHI grades. It also offers an HND and degree in Horology.

West Dean College in West Sussex runs diplomas in the conservation of clocks.

Epping Forest Horology Club in Essex runs lessons based on the BHI distance learning course, leading to the BHI certificates.

Progression

You could be promoted to a supervisory or management position, eg, in a workshop that employs several repairers or in the retail side of the business.

Watch and clock repairers can become self-employed, running their own businesses. Some specialise, eg, in antique clocks. Others become involved in teaching/training or museum work.

Qualifications

There are no formal academic entry requirements for the British Horological Institute's (BHI) short and distance learning courses.

Generally, GCSEs in English Language, Maths, and a science, technology or engineering subject are useful for this career. Of the sciences, Physics is particularly useful.

For entry to the BHI courses at Birmingham City University, you will need at least 3 GCSEs at grade C or above in Maths, English Language and Science.

Entry to the HND in Horology at Birmingham City University requires 120 UCAS tariff points or equivalent qualifications or experience.

Courses are practical as well as theoretical, so excellent hand-eye co-ordination and good manual skills are essential.

Adult Opportunities

Age limits

It is illegal for any organisation to set age limits for entry to employment, education or training, unless they can show there is a real need to have these limits.

Skills/experience

Experience of working with precision instruments is an advantage.

Courses

The British Horological Institute (BHI) offers Technician and Final Grade clock and watchmaking qualifications, by distance learning, leading to professional membership of the BHI.

Statistics

  • 11% of people in occupations such as watch and clock repairer are self-employed.
  • 7% have flexible hours.

Further Information

Professional institutionsProfessional institutions have the following roles:

  • To support their members.
  • To protect the public by keeping standards high in their professions.

For more information on the institution(s) relevant to this career, check out the contacts below.

British Horological Institute (BHI)

Address: Upton Hall, Upton, Newark, Nottinghamshire NG23 5TE

Tel: 01636 813795

Email: info@bhi.co.uk

Website: www.bhi.co.uk

Worshipful Company of Clockmakers

Address: Salters' Hall, Fore Street, London EC2Y 5DE

Tel: 020 7638 5500

Email: clerk@clockmakers.org

Website: www.clockmakers.org

British School of Watchmaking (BSoW)

Address: Crossford Court, Units 5 and 6, Dane Road, Sale, Manchester M33 7BZ

Website: www.britishschoolofwatchmaking.co.uk

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