watch designer

Watch Designer Guide: How To Become A Watch Designer

Watch designers oversee the composition of a timepiece from start to finish, making it the dream job for many watch aficionados. So, how do you become a watch designer?

This expert guide will reveal the different pathways you can take to start your watch designing career.

Let’s get started!

Route 1: Watch Designing Course

watch designer course

Studying watch design, or horology in general, is one way to become a watch designer. 

This pathway is recommended for those of you who like structure and routine. As it involves clear milestones you have to pass in order to qualify as a watch designer. What’s more, it allows you to meet other like-minded watch fanatics, fostering a wonderful community.

On the other hand, it’s important to note that watch designing courses tend to be very expensive, so it’s not accessible for everyone. As well as that, courses often combine practicality and academia. If this isn’t your strong point, you may need to embark on a different journey.

Here are some examples of excellent institutions that offer watch designing courses:

British School of Watchmaking 

Based in Manchester, the British School of Watchmaking provides two horological courses that help to train budding designers.

The first is the year-long WOSTEP 1800 Hour Programme that focuses on skills such as servicing and encasing. The total cost for this course is £11,200.

The second option is the WOSTEP 3000 Hour Programme. Which is a 2-year course specialising in preparation for employment. For this course, you will have to pay £20,200 overall.

British Horological Institute

Nearby in Upton, Merseyside, we have the prestigious British Horological Institute.

To get involved, simply enrol for £120 per year and gain access to wonderful resources including the horological library.

The institution offers a range of courses including their Diploma in Clock and Watch Servicing and Diploma in the Repair, Restoration and Conservation of Clocks/Watches.

Both courses require you to pass exams in order to graduate from the course.

Birmingham City University: Horology 

Finally, Birmingham City University offers a 3-year BA in Horology. Focusing on areas such as watchmaking history and—more importantly – watch design.

Impressively, they are partnered with Louis Vuitton Moet Hennessy. Therefore their 100% student satisfaction rate comes as no surprise.

To be accepted onto this £9,250 per year course, you need a minimum of 112 UCAS tariff points collected over a minimum of 2 A-Levels.

Route 2: Apprenticeship

watch designer

If you crave more hands-on experience as a watch designer, another option is to undertake an apprenticeship.

Watch designer apprenticeships allow you to learn from the experts in a personal way. With one-to-one demonstrations, you are able to see how watch designing plays out in the real world.

The situations that arise may also be typical of the watchmaking profession, where the university experience is more academic. Overall, as an apprentice, you can feel like a true watch face designer before you even obtain your first job in the industry.

Unfortunately, it’s extremely difficult to find watch designer apprenticeships nowadays. So, this isn’t an option for everyone.

However, IWC Schaffhausen clearly recognise the importance of apprenticeships as they provide many, including their 4-year Technical Designer training. This requires you to be spatially aware, patient, and focused.

Skills Needed To Become A Watch Designer

watch designing

Once you’ve completed your studies or your apprenticeship, you will be an expert in all things watch design: custom watch design, cool watch designs, unique watch designs, and so on.

However, just knowing how to design a watch from scratch isn’t always enough to enter into competitive companies.

Some soft skills that are extremely important include:

Attention To Detail

Designing watches requires impeccable attention to detail as you are dealing with small watch parts, and you need to ensure your design turns out exactly how you planned.

Problem Solving

Evidently, working with watches can be complicated, and problems are bound to arise. It’s important that you know how to plan for these problems, and how to subsequently resolve them.


Ultimately, watch designing is a creative job. A watch designer should be booming with innovative ideas in order to manufacture the most desirable watches on the market.

How To Secure A Watch Designer Job

man with briefcase

Now that you know the hard skills and soft skills needed to be a watch designer, you’re probably wondering how to secure a job in this industry.

Once you have your university or apprenticeship qualifications, you can enrol as a member of the British Watch and Clockmakers Guild, The Worshipful Company of Watchmakers, or the British Horological Institute. 

After that, simply start applying for jobs! Alternatively, you could pursue freelance work, though this may be better once you’ve had a few years of experience in the watch designing world.

The salary for watch designers is £30,000/year on average, reaching up to £70,000 depending on the level of experience and the reputability of the company.

Now You Know How To Become A Watch Designer


As you can see, there are many options available to you when it comes to qualifying as a watch designer.

Whether you’re leaning more towards school or an apprenticeship, there is a clear pathway you can take to get into watch designing.

If you’re a watch fanatic who is observant and creative, we strongly recommend that you look into this area more. In particular, we have our female readers in mind, as watch designing women are few and far between.

Finally, as you consider your career as a watch designer, it’s helpful to research different watch brands to gain inspiration for your designs. 

To see what a high-quality minimalist timepiece can look like, check out our watches for sale and prepare to fall in love.

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