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Has it come to this, then?

  1. Canuck Oct 23, 2019

    I very much doubt that your typical brand service centre does very much training. I visited the Rolex service centre in Toronto about 20 years ago. They had facilities to train qualified watchmakers on their staff, to bring them up to speed on newer calibers or complicated models they may not have been familiar with. But as to training total newbies. Not likely.
  2. Archer Omega Qualified Watchmaker Oct 23, 2019

    The fact is there aren't enough watchmakers around, so companies have to do things to keep the work flowing and not end up with very long service time frames, as customers will complain.

    So there are several strategies that companies use:

    1 - Replace subassemblies and parts that could be repaired, as it saves them some time. For example Omega replaces the entire barrel assembly, when in reality most of the time it's only the mainspring that needs replacing. They will replace an entire bridge that has a worn hole, when the hole could be repaired by installing a bushing. This speeds things up, but is incredibly wasteful.

    2 - They replace entire movements at the local service center. So when a watch of a certain type comes in, the entire movement is replaced. For some movements like simple quartz movements, I'm sure the old movement is discarded. For more complex mechanical movements, the movement removed from the watch is sent to a central facility for servicing, and is then sent back out to be put into another watch somewhere in the world. Omega does this in some markets with the Speedmaster reduced modular chronograph movements, and Rolex/Tudor does this with their new "in-house" MT5612 mechanical movement.

    3 - They employ unskilled workers, and they do this in two ways.

    3a - They use people who have been hired off the street and given very specific training to perform various parts of the service that are not related to the movement. These workers do the initial disassembly of the watch when it comes in, so these people remove the bracelet, open the case, remove the movement, remove the hands and dial. The movement is sent on to a trained watchmaker to do the service, and the case/bracelet is sent to the refinishing department, where again people who have been hired off the street and given specific training to the refinishing. In this scenario, the watchmaker only services the movement itself. Once that's done, the movements is sent back to the same people who initially took the watch apart, and they installed the dial, ands, put it in the refinished case, and do all the final assembly and quality checks.

    3b - They use people who have been hired off the street and given very specific training to perform various parts of the movement service. This is often referred to a "sequential assembly" and you can think of it as assembling a car on a production line. Workers are given specific training on assembling one area of the movement, and they repeat that same thing all day long, day after day. The next person on the line is trained on their small parts of the assembly, and they do their parts next, and it moves on down the line. In this scenario, the trained watchmaker is only at the end of the movement servicing process, checking and timing the movement, so he has little involvement in the assembly of the movement.

    All of these techniques are in use in various degrees across most brands. I don't see any of them getting less common as time goes by.

    Cheers, Al
    BradleyJ., michael22 and Retro_Rabbit like this.
  3. Retro_Rabbit Oct 23, 2019

    That's more how I imagined it could be only somehow more bleak, as far as keeping future generations of watchmakers coming through the ranks...
    I suppose it's a bit like the dumbing down of the trade that I've seen in the auto industry where actual mechanics have been replaced by "service technicians" that are more like fitters, plug in computer, computer says replace water pump... No actual diagnostic skills required for some aspects of the trade... Quite sad really.

    I've also seen this in the electrical trade, certain aspects of the job that used to form part of the trade test has now become something a labourer does and it's no longer taught to apprentice electricians as a normal part of their training.
  4. mosqvich Jan 18, 2020

    I bought the same watch new in the Caymans when I was on vacation. I've had it for about 12 years and it works fine. I do have a crack on the back side which really is a bummer. What would be the best way to "fix" it in terms of not letting moisture get into the movement? I quit wearing it because it steamed up and figured that wasn't a great idea.