close up of a man holding a black dial watch

How To Become A Watchmaker: The Watchmaker Career Path

How to become a watchmaker: something many watch enthusiasts have pondered at least once in their lives. Keep reading to discover exactly what a watchmaker is and to learn all about the study of watchmaking.

What Is A Watchmaker?

Watch shop window in France

Over the years, the job of a watchmaker has changed drastically. Back in 1554, Frenchman Thomas Bayard became the first person to pursue a watchmaker career. He relied on excellent craftsmanship and creativity to build stunning timepieces — a far cry from today’s mechanized industry.

Nowadays, after getting their watchmaker certification, horologists mainly focus on repairing timepieces. This still requires an impressive in-depth understanding of watch parts.

Watchmaker Training

Close up of someone mending a watch

There are two main paths to becoming a watchmaker: apprenticeships and horology school.

IWC Schaffhausen in Switzerland offers an excellent 3-year apprenticeship for budding watchmakers. Each year, they search for scientific-minded young people who are prepared for meticulous work. According to the website, IWC Schaffhausen requires students to have ‘technical understanding, manual dexterity, excellent spatial awareness, patience’ as well as other key skills.

Alternatively, you could acquire horology certification through the British Horological Institute in Upton. When you join this institution, you are eligible to apply for the BHI Level 3 Technician Grade qualification and to take exams with the centre. This course is available as a distance learning course, meaning you can complete it from anywhere in the world.

The British School of Watchmaking in Sale also teaches students how to become a horologist. You could choose to enrol onto the 1800 course that teaches quality control, encasing, and servicing. On the other hand, the 3000 hour course also teaches micromechanics, adjustment, and regulation. Either way, you can learn how to fix watches from experts in the field.

If you want to go to university for watchmaking, your best bet is the Horology course at Birmingham City University. This Bachelor’s degree programme lasts 3 years. It includes the theory of horology, the history of horology, and watch design. To enrol onto this course, you need a minimum of 2 A-Levels or 112 UCAS tariff points. As it is an official university course, the total cost per year is £9,250.

Watchmaking Apprenticeship vs Horology School

Close up of Omega watch dial

Watchmaking apprenticeships are the traditional route into horology. When you learn alongside a trained professional, you benefit from one-to-one advice. You also tend to have more opportunities to practise the practical side of watchmaking. On the other hand, you may miss out on academic knowledge. It is also difficult to find apprenticeship programmes nowadays.

As for horology school, you can choose from many institutions around the world. The experience tends to be more social as you are surrounded by fellow learners. However, certain courses are lacking in practical teaching which is the most important part of being a watchmaker.

What Soft Skills Does A Watchmaker Need?

Man in a suit wearing a watch

Watchmaking school can teach you all you need to know regarding mechanics, but there are certain soft skills you also need to possess to become a great watchmaker:

A Passion For Watches

It may seem obvious, but passion is what carries you through the challenges of watchmaking. If you are not drawn to watches, it will be difficult to deal with them day in and day out.

Attention To Detail

When you choose to study horology, you need excellent attention to detail as you will be taking watches apart and finding flaws in them. Years of training will teach you what to look out for when servicing. However, you need to be naturally competent at finding problems in order to speed up this process.


It is important for you to be patient as a horologist as you will come across many problems that take time and patience to resolve. When dealing with small parts, you will be challenged on a regular basis e.g. losing parts or struggling to fit certain parts. If you are patient, you will be able to take your time resolving these issues and retain a calm approach.


When you are dealing with many different timepieces, you are expected to be able to apply your skills in different ways depending on the mechanism in front of you. There is no one-size-fits-all solution for watches so you must adapt to each situation and come up with a new resolution based on your education and experience.

Customer Service Skills

Customer service skills are necessary for watchmakers as you will be dealing with members of the public when taking watches in for servicing. It is important that you are able to explain the condition of the watch in a way that clients will understand.

How Much Do Watchmakers Make?

man reading a business newspaper and wearing a colourful watch

When your apprenticeship or watch repair school course comes to an end, you will want to know what being a watchmaker entails.

Most watchmaker jobs tend to be around 40 hours a week, often including weekends. As for the horologist salary, it ranges from £20,000 for new graduates to £40,000 for experienced watchmakers.

In terms of the role of a horologist, you can expect to:

  • Inspect watches
  • Repair faults
  • Replace batteries
  • Fit new parts
  • Clean watch parts
  • Engrave watches

Our Final Thoughts On How To Become A Watchmaker

watch with gold strap placed next to accessories against a blue background

If you are prepared for meticulous work, why not learn watchmaking? Though it requires plenty of patience, watchmaking is the perfect job for watch enthusiasts. There’s no better way to appreciate the mechanism of a timepiece than to take it apart and restore each and every section.

Having said that, it’s possible to admire a timepiece without putting in years of study. Our stunning Swiss-made collection is waiting to be admired, so head over to our collection to see what we have on offer. Browse our watches for sale today.

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