AWCI Creates Two Job Titles to Counter Loss of Watchmakers

The American Watchmakers-Clockmakers Institute, aided by retail jewelry and watch trade advisors, is creating two new watch job categories to meet rising demand by consumers, jewelers, and watch brands for people able to service fine watches, and to lessen the impact from the loss in trained U.S. watchmakers.

The two new in-store job categories are watch specialist and watch technician. Training and certification criteria are being developed and will be unveiled at the 2007 JCK Show ~ Las Vegas, says Jim Lubic, AWCI executive director.

Recent years have seen significant growth in sales of mechanical watches and other fine timepieces, plus rising demand from jewelers, consumers, watch brands, and service centers for trained watchmakers. However, only a few hundred remain, compared with more than 30,000 three decades ago.

That has led to thousands of untrained, often self-taught people trying to repair valuable, complicated timepieces, but inadvertently damaging them in the process. The new categories should help with these problems, says AWCI.

The watch specialist would be a store’s most knowledgeable watch salesperson. He or she will have expertise ranging from knowledge of watch history and materials to operating complex timepieces. The specialist will also oversee warranty policies and watch repair and maintenance programs. Training, which takes about six weeks, will be done through the mail and Internet, and testing for certification at regional trade shows.

The watch technician will perform basic hands-on service, from battery replacements and bracelet adjustments to watch-movement and crystal replacement. He or she won’t disassemble movements or reproduce handmade components, which remain the domain of a Certified Watchmaker. Training, which lasts about three months, will involve more formal, technical instruction at AWCI or qualified schools around the country. The course will be divided into short segments to fit a retailer’s schedule.

The new jobs would provide jewelers with well-trained specialists (either new hires or a member of the staff). Customers will get an informed watch salesperson, says AWCI, while the store’s Certified Watchmaker—if it has one—will have more time for serious repairs and servicing, with the technician handling basic jobs. The technician category should also provide more people for the country’s hundreds of independent and brand-related watch service centers. AWCI officials expect some technicians to go on to become Certified Watchmakers.

Castle Worldwide, which specializes in industry certification programs, is helping develop the criteria. Information on the jobs and a survey will be sent to some 500 independent watchmakers/shops, jewelers, and watch brands for input and to ensure, as Lubic put it, “we’ve got it right.”

Along with the new job categories, training, cost (i.e., salaries), and certification criteria will be unveiled to the watch and jewelry industries next year at the 2007 JCK Show ~ Las Vegas, at AWCI’s “Watchmaker of the Future” booth. “The JCK Show will be the big start,” says Lubic. “We’ll have information on the technician and specialist categories, the investment a retailer must make, and the career potential for people in those jobs.”

Ongoing marketing will include presentations at major shows and online (www.awci.com), and recruiting by AWCI members. For more information, contact AWCI at info@awci.com or (866) 367-2924.