Desperately Seeking Watchmakers

Sound the sirens. Mechanical watch repairs are in a state of emergency. Retailers complain that repairs are unreliable and unpredictable, often forcing impatient customers to be put off for months. The cause isn’t hard to pinpoint. There’s a shortage of qualified watchmakers in the United States, and it’s reaching a critical juncture. The number of watchmakers available to service mechanical watches has been declining for 20 years, owing to the popularity of quartz watches and the retirement or deaths of seasoned watchmakers. Exacerbating the problem has been the explosive increase in the volume of mechanical watches introduced in recent years. Many observers say the watch industry has been slow to react. “Until the water reaches your nostrils you don’t care if water continues to rise,” says Peter Laetsch, president of the Watchmakers of Switzerland Information Center, Ro
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