The Disappearing U.S. Watchmaker

How many U.S. watchmakers are left? The exact number is hard to pin down. Different sections in the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics, which tracks such figures, put the total between 8,400 (1998) and 6,500 (year 2000). The first figure, based on several surveys, is official until next year. The lower figure is based on unofficial monthly approximations.

The variation is a result of difficulty in counting self-employed watch- and clockmakers. More exact-because of federally required documentation-is the number of watchmakers employed by watch suppliers, trade shops, and jewelers: 3,090.

The Watchmakers of Switzerland Education and Training Program, which tracks watch repair training programs worldwide, says there are about 6,000 watchmakers in the United States. The American Watchmakers-Clockmakers Institute, the world’s largest horological organization, has 5,500 members, most of them watchmakers.