pocketwatch cleaning?

Discussion in 'American Pocket Watches' started by Xena, Jun 20, 2009.

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  1. Xena

    Xena Registered User

    Jun 18, 2009
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    I've read on here that one should be able to get a pocketwatch
    cleaned/oiled for between $50 - $150. I emailed a guy here
    in Newton, MA and he quoted me ballpark of $175 to $275.
    Can anyone provide a few recommendations in the greater Boston area
    that are a little more reasonable? Tia
     
  2. doug sinclair

    doug sinclair Registered User
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    Every watchmaker knows what his work is worth! If you value your watch, do NOT go for the lowest quote! Half a job is worth half the price. If possible, let the shop you emailed have a look at the watch. Most shops won't quote unless they can examine the watch. If pressed for a quote, it only stands to reason they will cover their butt by quoting on the high side. Get several recommendations if possible, then have the watch checked and competitive quotes given. Prices are likely affected by the locality.
     
  3. Dave B

    Dave B Registered User

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    My automobile mechanic charges $80.00 per hour for his labor time. How long do you think it takes to disassemble, clean, polish pivots, reassemble, oil and regulate a watch? $175 seems very low to me. I know I can't do one in less than about three or four hours.
     
  4. Xena

    Xena Registered User

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    #4 Xena, Jun 21, 2009
    Last edited: Jun 21, 2009
    Thanks for the responses. I sent several close up pics of the movement and thought
    that a cleaning for it might not be difficult to quote since he's probably cleaned
    many of them so should be aware of the time involved.
    I figured it took several hours or more and I have no problem paying
    someone what the time is worth but I also know.... In most any line of work, there are always
    old school/old timers out there doing their thing on the side with no overhead, and who know
    their stuff and who charge a lot less than what the younger newbs charge. Folks like this are
    out there so I was hoping for maybe a reference in the boston area. I'll keep my eyes open
    and ask around. Not in any hurry to jump on the first shop I found either.
     
  5. Scott Erholm

    Scott Erholm Registered User

    Mar 28, 2009
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    Now c'mon... for most American watches it takes maybe 10 minutes to disassemble them. You can't really count the time in the cleaning machine or ultrasonic, although that is overhead which much be paid for in some way. Then to peg-out all the jewels, inspect for worn or broken parts, oil and reassemble is probably a half-hour for and experienced person. Then time it and regulate it, which takes another few minutes on the timing machine.

    So grand total, I'd say an hour's labor, plus the overhead of the equipment. I think I'd be concerned if the fee was $50, unless it was from a little old retired watchmaker who just did it on the side. Even then, I'd probably feel guilty about paying so little. But $175:???: I think around $100 - $125 would be more reasonable.

    Now of course, we're talking about a straight-forward cleaning. If there's a cracked jewel that needs replacing, or excessive endshake in a staff, or some other repair or labor-intensive adjustment, then that would obviously incur a higher cost.

    I think there are even members here who would perform such a service. I myself am too much of an amateur to be trusted with someone else's watch, but there are very experienced folks here who are quite reliable. Xena, you don't have to have your watch serviced locally, unless you really want to deal with a person face-to-face. It only costs $5-6 to send a watch fully insured, so we're talkin' $12 round trip.

    There's a few in The Mart that I see. Who here services watches professionally or on the side for extra money?
     
  6. Robert Sweet

    Robert Sweet Registered User

    Apr 29, 2004
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    Xena,

    After our good members in this forum give you their take on this question, you might ask the moderator to move your question to the Watch Repair forum.

    Robert
     
  7. 49stude63

    49stude63 Registered User

    Mar 21, 2009
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    #7 49stude63, Jun 21, 2009
    Last edited: Jun 21, 2009
    For the automotive field labor runs the gamut from 28-75+ dollars depending on what shop you go to. Is a GM mechanic any less qualified to work on a car than a Lexus mechanic, no not at all and there will be a labor costs difference between GM and a Lexus dealer. I've dealt with very good watch repair guys that did not chop off your arm for payment and some that chopped off your arm and still did a crappy job so price is no indication of the quality of job as long as someone doesn't quote you 5 bucks of something. Sometimes I have had to switch watch guys over the years, because of death, retirement, job transfers etc but usually when I find a guy I look at his qualifications, send one of my less valuable watches to get it cleaned, when it comes back I check, does it run right, does it looked hacked, are screws or anything missing or not installed correctly. Going back to cars, some people can do wonders in repairing cars and charge you 80 buck per hour labor and others can do wonders with a car and only charge you 35 bucks labor, labor cost does not always mean the quality of the work as long as it is within reason. And Xena the range mentioned is what I pay, for my Elgin 270 that look like it was smoked in a smoke house, I paid $85 total with shipping back for a clean/oil, for my 18s 21J Vanguard I paid $115, both watches came back running better, looking better and no indication of "foul play/workmanship", if someone wants to argue that I should have paid 2x that and it would have been a better clean/oil job I really doubt that would have been the case.
     
  8. doug sinclair

    doug sinclair Registered User
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    ,I recently had a pocket watch brought to me that the customer indicated had been at another shop for six months. The customer was referred to me by a mutual acquaintance. He really wanted the watch fixed. The other shop claimed they couldn't get the parts. It didn't NEED parts. It needed someone who could diagnose the problem, and who knew how to fix it! For me it was a routine repair, and I called him in a week to tell him the watch was ready. He was speechless!
    I started learning this craft back in the days when the prized collectibles we cherish today were every day items that people used, every day. We learned our trade on these items. We acquired the tools, the acumen, the respect, and the patience to cope with these watches. These are the components that are often lacking in the repair trade today. With more and more watches on more and more wrists and in more and more pockets, and fewer and fewer people around to service these watches, the skill set in use today is different to what it was all those years ago. Shops today most often won't turn down an antique, hoping what it needs will fall within their limited range of capabilities.

    Today, a lot of modern shops have to rely on huge volumes of repairs that they can pump out with a minimum of labor content. Transplant the dial and hands to a replacement movement, clean the case, repair done. They might pump out six repairs, or more, in the time it takes to properly service an antique. An antique messes up their production.

    There is a local "high production" shop that would love me to continue bailing them out after they give up on an antique. I used to clean up their messes until I took the cure. I don't apologize for what I charge because I am often a last resort shop that has to salvage what's left. Want a cheap repair? Go ahead, I'm waiting to bail you out! It will be a fair price but it won't be cheap!
     
  9. John Pavlik

    John Pavlik Registered User
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    It appears again that we are trying to standardize a watch cleaning sevice on a specfic amount.. In the end the customer needs to feel that what they received was a good value.. If one service is done like Doug's, great job, and finished in week and you are completely satified he charges you X..The 2nd job is done with the same quality results and takes 9 months, but is $50 less,what is that worth? To some a lot, to others not much.. Pick a repair person on qualites that apply to your values.. Ask a lot of questions, but make the price question toward the end of the list.. Watch repair people are alot like Dentists, you need their services, sometimes just a cleaning, and sometimes the big extraction.. but you also need to feel comfortable with them..
     
  10. Tom Huber

    Tom Huber Registered User
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    Dec 9, 2000
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    Xena, A pocketwatch overhaul (cleaning/oiling/adjustment) routinely includes installing a new mainspring. Only about a year ago, mainsprings cost in the $5-7 range each. In the past year, prices have skyrocketed. Today a mainspring can cost in the range of $50/each. I got several a couple of months ago for $25 each. I thought it was a bargain.

    Those quoting a $50 cleaning can't be changing a mainspring.

    The bottom line is that you mostly get what you pay for. If you pay bargain basement price you will get bargain basement work.

    Tom
     
  11. man114

    man114 Registered User

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    I don't know I used to hear quotes all over the board, and some were really high. I finally took the time to learn to do it myself but I'm not about to work on someone else's stuff. I guess the cost would depend entirely on the complexity of the project at hand. A simple disassembly and cleaning with a watch with no worn parts obviously would be the cheapest. For me it might take two or three hours, but I've done quite a few especially recently with this new cleaning machine I got from a retired watchmaker.
     
  12. 49stude63

    49stude63 Registered User

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    I remember when I was in college at the University of Tenn. and I wore my dad's pocket watch all the time and one night I came back to my door room and took my pants off my watch fell out and broke the balance staff and I took it to a Seiko/Rolex jeweler/repair service and had the staff replaced and paid a hefty fee for that service at that time (1978) and then when I came back home I took the watch to the guy who had fixed it for me, old jeweler in his late 60's and asked him to look it over since it didn't run quite right. When I went to pick it up he ask "what hack did you let fix this watch?" and I told him what happened and he charged me 1/2 what the other guy did and did twice as good repairs (it currently still runs fine). So again I don't always equate higher service charges as an indication of the quality of work.
     
  13. Don Dahlberg

    Don Dahlberg Registered User
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    It is true that you sometimes do not get what you pay for. You very seldom get more than what you pay for.

    It takes me three hours to do a pocket watch without problems. Only about 20 minutes of this time is on a cleaning machine, when I can be working on another watch. Much of the time is inspecting each part and cleaning jewel holes.

    Of course, if there are problems, then it can take much longer. Sometime I spend hours just looking for a jewel to replace a broken one in a vintage watch. Sometimes I have to make a part, that is after I have contacted all my friends asking them if they have a part. I spend many hours at marts looking for vintage parts so I shall have them on hand when I need them.

    Oh yes, a mainspring now costs in excess of $40.

    I do not repair watches professionally. There is not enough money in it. If you want to see what it costs to do the job really right take a look at http://www.rgmwatches.com/repair.html

    Don
     
  14. doug sinclair

    doug sinclair Registered User
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    "There is hardly anything in the world that some man cannot make a little worse and sell a little cheaper, and the people who consider price only are this man's lawful prey." John Ruskin.
     
  15. sderek

    sderek Registered User
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    I think you do have to do some research when you need a watch repaired.
    If you had a rare classic car that you wanted to have restored, you wouldnt' take it to the corner service station. And if you had a Chevy that was just your daily driver and needed a tune up, you wouldn't take it to a place that specialized in high-priced foreign luxury cars.
    The same holds true with watches, there are rare and/or complicated watches that only a few specialized watchmakers should work on and you will pay a premium. There are also many common watches that can be worked on by many watchmakers for a lot less money.
    Do your reseach and ask some questions.
     
  16. grtnev

    grtnev Registered User
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    One of the lessons that I have learned is to be clear with the watchmaker who is working on your watch as to what you get for your $$$. From what I can tell, today, most cleanings of watches that come into a shop in working condition are just that, cleaning, oiling, and basic servicing. Usually this does not (at least in my experience) include a timing check in multiple posiitons. It seems that watches are "timed" after a cleaning more than likely in the face up position. I've had a couple of watches come back after servicing where the watch keeps good time face up and has a completely different tempo stem up.

    When I get my watches serviced, I have begun to ask that the timing be checked in the stem up position as well and if there is a compromise that has to be struck between face up and stem up that the watch be timed as accurately as "feasible" in the stem up position - because this is the posititon that the watch is in when I carry it.

    To have someone actually take a railroad quality watch and include multiple positional adjustments to get the watch to have the same tempo in multiple positions can be serious $$$. Additionally, a lot fewer people are willing (or able) to perform this level of service - at least from what I've been told to date.

    As an example, I have a 21J Sangamo Special that keeps relatively good time stem up and looses almost a minute a day face up. Ideally, I'd like it to keep good time in all 6 positions. To correct the positional error between stem up and face up probably will be fairly expensive - not to mention if I really wanted all 6 positions adjusted.
     
  17. A.F.W.

    A.F.W. Registered User

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    The current watchmaker I am using is the 5th in the last 20 years. They ranged in their backgrounds and experience.
    One was Korean, another Canadian, another Mexican, another Salvadorean and now Jamaican. The first and the last are the most most qualified from my point of view. All these watchmakers were local. I would often sit next to them as they would open the watch. Remove the movement, hands, dial and give me an estimate on the repair. I always felt the price was fair but not always happy with the work done.
    Some people have more work ethic than others...
    By now I am able to tell if I am dealing with a good watchmaker simply by seeing what care does he take when disassembling my watch. I tend to stick with one watchmaker as long as I feel he treats me right and in return I get good service, good price and fast turn around.
    I pay on average about $100 per pocket watch service plus parts if needed.
     
  18. Kent

    Kent Registered User
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    If you want ths corrected, I recommend The Escapement.
     
  19. BILL KAPP

    BILL KAPP Registered User
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    This absolutely has to be one of the best reasons to belong to a local chapter!
    Almost all chapters have several members capable and qualified to clean and repair a watch.

    Prices vary according to relationships, but are rarely market orientated. You can sometimes trade for services, parts, and advice.

    Chapter benefits for those like me who never touch tools make overall membership in the NAWCC an exceptional bargain even before you consider any and all of the other reasons to belong.

    Happy hunting,
     
  20. Lorne

    Lorne Registered User

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    I said this before when I brought up the high cost of service and repairs, but here I go again:

    1) The law of diminishing returns applies to watches. The more it cost to service a watch the fewer will be serviced resulting in less income for the servicer.

    2) It probably makes better business sense to charge $75 on a COA than get zero because you asked more for the job than the watch was worth. Jiffy Lube makes a ton of money charging $19.95 to change your oil because they do it in volume and you may need a $50 fan belt change while you are there.

    3) Its probably better customer service to say you don't have time to do routine COA's then ask the moon for them and send a customer away angry.

    Just my two cents.
     
  21. Kent

    Kent Registered User
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    And then there are highly qualified watchmakers who treat the watch with respect, who aren't satisfied until the watch is running as well as it designed to do, who charge more than the amounts kicked around in this thread and who have a 3-6 month backlog.
     
  22. Lorne

    Lorne Registered User

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    There will always be masters of the trade who are qualified to work on high quality watches, and they are worth what they ask for.

    However not every Waltham is a Riverside Maximus, and that shouldn't be a death sentence.

    There is no logical reason to spend twice what a watch cost for routine servicing. Not only that, it is counter productive and a self-eliminating practice.


    Lorne
     
  23. A.F.W.

    A.F.W. Registered User

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    How true !! I am totally satisfied with a pocket watch running 30 seconds off per day. It is not being used on the railroad or to send a man to the moon. It spends most of it's time in the safe. If I sell the watch I will let the buyer know what the timing is. If they need better timing they can spend additional funds to achieve it.
     
  24. grtnev

    grtnev Registered User
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    Don't know that I would agree as an absolute statement. The value of the watch often is not directly related to what I paid for it or even twice what I paid for it. Like the time I found a Hamilton 992 in a factory Model 2 Bar Over Crown case at a pawn shop for $50. It wasn't working at the time and it was definitely worth spending over $100 for cleaning, replacing the balance staff, and timing.

    For me, what I decide to spend on a watch in terms of servicing is dependent on several factors, original cost just being one.

    Richard Thomas
    Minden, NV
     
  25. A.F.W.

    A.F.W. Registered User

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    Like this one?
    [​IMG]

     

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  26. grtnev

    grtnev Registered User
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    #26 grtnev, Jun 22, 2009
    Last edited: Jun 22, 2009
    Roger that, except in a white gold filled case and does not have the Montgomery dial.

    Richard Thomas
    Minden, NV
     

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  27. A.F.W.

    A.F.W. Registered User

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    In my view no watch ( except one with sentimental value )
    is worth spending more on ( purchase and service if required) than the market value. Preferably much less ;)
     
  28. LarFure

    LarFure Registered User

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    I hope you're just kidding with this line of malarkey you just shoveled out here. To put it kindly,you don't have any idea what it takes to do quality work on a watch.
     
  29. 49stude63

    49stude63 Registered User

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    I was getting the impression from the posts that the price line is as follows,
    1) $400 for clean and oil, this guy is next to Superman, knows his stuff, lords over poor paeans like most of us.
    2) $300-399 for clean and oil- dipping down in the barrel they might have problems with difficult issues.
    3) $200-299 for clean and oil - really getting down to the bottom of the barrel, getting desperate, probably lucky to see your watch in under a year.
    4) $85-199- seriously are you kidding, what my watch, surely you jest, did your momma find you under the cabbage leaf or what:???:?? :eek::eek::eek:

    If I send a watch and it comes back running and looking better than when I sent it and I pay 85-120 dollars I am happy, if anyone wants to spend $400 for the same service then it falls into the category, it's your money spend it as you see fit.
     
  30. A.F.W.

    A.F.W. Registered User

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    You may be a watchmaker and disagree with the gentleman's
    estimate of time necessary to perform the service. Nonetheless it is not necessary to call it malarkey.
    Can you categorically state that no experienced watchmaker can do it in this time frame?
    I am not a watchmaker but have worked as a goldsmith for many years and can easily tell how long a certain process takes. Some people are faster, some slower.
     
  31. LarFure

    LarFure Registered User

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    The time it takes me to disassemble,inspect,clean,reassemble,lubricate,and adjust a watch takes approximately seven hours. A little longer if I need to replace certain parts. Now the adjusting that is done isn't just messing with the regulator until it rates to about one minute a day in one position. If a watch is to be adjusted to 3,5,or six positions plus temperature that's what you get. If it's an unadjusted movement,that's what you'll get too,but be prepared to pay. Any Rail Road watch that I time will keep time better than it was new when I'm done. OK,what do you think a job like that should be worth? BTW,I also clean the case,dial and hands. If the hands need to be polished and re-blued I do it,but again,what are you willing to pay for thorough work like that?
     
  32. A.F.W.

    A.F.W. Registered User

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    You need to charge whatever you feel your time is worth.
    No doubt.

     
  33. doug sinclair

    doug sinclair Registered User
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    If I had a crystal ball and knew in advance how many problems I will have to overcome in trying to encourage some old boat anchor to return to good performance, I'd know in advance what to charge for that repair. That's the problem! If I had a crystal ball, I wouldn't have to fix watches. You suggest that a full, complete job should take about an hour. As long as I've been at this craft, I still can't do a good, complete job in an hour! So, let's say two hours, total as a minimum. LarFure says it sometimes takes him seven hours. Could be! It has happened to me when I run into a real problem watch! You seem to feel that every repair is a routine repair, and that a "flat rate" system based on that assumption should apply. You also admit that you are a "fledgling" at repairing of watches. This hardly qualifies you to sit in judgement of those of us with years of experience, and the rates you feel we should be charging! When your capabilities have expanded to the point that you are proficient and know what you are talkinig about, come back and let us know if your attitude has changed.
     
  34. neighmond

    neighmond Registered User

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    I'm going to beat hell when I have a pocket watch apart, overhauled, and together in an hour and a half. Usually I can count on doing two a day, if nothing else is really wanting. Given, I'm a better clockmaker than I ever was a watchmaker, I can't really see rushing it along much faster than that and get by with it.

    Last repair I got a hundred. If I have to replace a mainspring the price really goes up, but I don't get to keep much of that part.
     
  35. A.F.W.

    A.F.W. Registered User

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    During my years in jewelry manufacturing I had to find most effective way to accomplish the job. The competition would often cut the price so to compete one had to be on one's toes. Many people work inefficiently even if they do their work for years. Somehow 7 hours spent on overhauling the watch sounds like a lot to me. I would love to be able to watch such operation. I like to see craftsmen at work.
     
  36. LarFure

    LarFure Registered User

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    The seven hour quote was for a worse case scenario. Doug is right about the cryatal ball though. None of us have one and none of us has x-ray vision either. If I did have the x-ray vision I wouldn't waste it on watch repair.
     
  37. Dr. Jon

    Dr. Jon Registered User
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    A loepends on what you and call a cleaning.

    Its not too difficult to separate the major elements run them through an ultrasonic, reassemble, and put oil in the obvious places in an hour to an hour and a half.

    That is not what is generally regarded as a cleaning and oiling.

    At a minumum the cap jewels have to come off be cleaned and properly oiled. The running jewel holes have to be pegged out. The watch needs to be put in beat. That alone often takes me an hour. What I mean by in beat is getting it within 1 miilescond of true.

    The standard is to

    1) clean it; This includes removal and re lubing of main spring Once clean and when handling a mainspring I put on finger cots and check them for soundness) No one will see whether I did this but if I don't the mainspring may break.
    2) Diagnose any and all problems (including high magnification look at all jewel holes and cap surfaces)
    3) Do fixes as needed including touch up badly marred screws
    4) Regulate it including position adjustment and center the balance spring
    5) take it apart
    6) clean it again
    7) oil it again (caps come off again, are cleaned again, holes pegged out

    8) Reassemble oil and put it in beat.
    9) Verify rates and tweak
    That is a minimum of 4 hours if nothing is found amiss) . It is a lot of work and I only do it on watches that are worth the effort.

    This does not include the time I spend on cleaning and maintaining my facilities.

    That is what I do when I do my own watches and I am not ready to do this for others. It is what the schools teach and its what modern watch brands expect of their service centers.

    If you get all that for $250 or less you are getting a good deal. Its fine to ask how the cleaning will be done and if the watchmaker is doing this the charge accordingly.

    Nobody with the respect for the watch and themselves is going to do this for a non-living income. A watchmakeer with a an account at a major wrist watch brand gets two to four hundred dollars to do one em and can do three to five per day. These go faster because

    1) The caps are easer to remove and replace
    2) Parts are available and they replace entire assemblies
    3) Beat setting is done in the watch with a screw driver
    4) The balances are solid and rarely go out of true or poise.
    5) If they encounter a poise or psotiion problem they replace the whole balance and spring and get paid for it.

    Do the math. The guys who do old pocket watches are taking a major pay cut even at $700 a throw if they are fully qualified.

    When someone offers a price that seems low, ask what their process is. A lot of the better operators post this and are happy to tell about it.



    It can be done for a lot less, a partial disassembly and dunk in a combination cleaning and oiling bath but it is not the same and won't produce the same results. The watch will run long enough to sell. It's how newbies get stuck and then discouraged.
     
  38. Lorne

    Lorne Registered User

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    Finding out that cleaning Grandpa's 15 jewel Waltham or Elgin cost more your car payments can be pretty discouraging too....

    If someone wants to collect top of the line watches then they should expect to pay for top of the line service and repairs. However, that does not mean that middle rate watches, or clunkers that have sentimental value, need or require this level of skill.

    One day some guy is going to get $700 for a COA, and its going the last watch repair person working on the last watch...

    Lorne
     
  39. A.F.W.

    A.F.W. Registered User

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    To me vintage watch collecting is largely for reasons other than timekeeping.I do not use 95% of my watches.
    If the watch is running fairly good over a period of time I will not even service it. I'd rather leave it to the next owner.
    If they do not have a watchmaker of their own and ask me to have the service done I will have it done. At least I know I am selling a working watch. If the watch needs repair or running bad I will have the service done before offering it for sale.
     
  40. Dr. Jon

    Dr. Jon Registered User
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    Dec 14, 2001
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    It all depends on what you want and like.

    I don't service or get all my watches serviced.

    If I plan to wear one a lot I service it, myself if I feel up to it or someone else if I can;t or run into something I can't handle.

    I collect high precision watches and like them to perform well. If they can I want my railroads to work to railroad time. I also have some observatory chronometers, which are a large step above railroad watches in performance and cost.

    I like these to be reasonably close to what they did when new. Since many of these were worked extensively by the great watchmakers of their time, with unlimited funding, I doubt they will ever run as well as they did then but I am willing to have a highly qualified watchmaker go over it and get it runnning as well as I can afford.

    A basic servicing is intended to protect a watch from wear and corrosion. It secures its value. There are enough good railroad watches that I and savvy collectors can select the well maintained ones. I can't tell by sight how well they run in positions but I can see minor corrosion and whether it has good motion. If its sick and not too rare I pass.

    I see a lot of common railraod watches at auction. To be fair, I see little relation between what I see in condition to price. When I see a really nice one (Clean with good motion) far back in a large group I usually get it cheap. This is why many people are better off dealing with a good dealer who should know and stand behind an item.


    If I buy a non working railroad class watch it has to be very clean and very cheap.

    Well educated buyers know how to look for problems. When they see evidence of poor or no service they suspect more problems they can't see and buy or bid accordingly.

    When I sell a good watch, I list its timing performance and find that this pays.

    To me, a watch is usually not worth buying if it is not worth getting into good shape. Unless it is very rare, or has non timekeeping value I like my watches and chronometers to run and run well.
     
  41. Lorne

    Lorne Registered User

    Jul 31, 2008
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    Let me give an example of what I'm talking about:

    Saturday the crystal fell out of my watch. I took it to a local guy to have it fixed ($10). While there I asked him about replacing a main spring, and I had the spring.

    Well, the guy quoted me $50. Thats $50 to unscrew four screws, the use of a winding tool, and screw the four screws back down.

    I know the guy has a shop, overhead, a wife, six sick college bound kids, and a boat payment, but $50?

    Lorne
     
  42. Bratdaddy@mac.com

    Bratdaddy@mac.com Registered User
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    To me, a watch is usually not worth buying if it is not worth getting into good shape.


    I couldn't agree more. I buy what I like, carry what I buy, and have everything scheduled for service. This is how I manage my collection. I want all the problems corrected. I want the watch to perform correctly. I don't believe that simply because something is old excuses need be made. This is where the Watchmaker comes in. Finding an individual that respects and appreciates the goal of the individual collector is at least as important as finding the watch. I do not attempt repairs or service myself. I am a carrying collector that has very little regard for the investment value of my collection. It has historical importance, and I feel good about having a link to a time when craftsmen in my Nation built to quality first. I have the highest respect for the men and women that set about the task of watch repair and maintenance determined to do it right. I've read differing philosophies regarding technique and method. The ultimate arbiter is the result. If the serviced watch runs as it was intended to by its manufacturer, then the job was done correctly. Their may be exceptions, such as when a Watchmaker informs his client that remediation will cross a reasonable price point. Such accommodation is a risky venture for a craftsman that values his reputation. Personally, I would rather buy a watch not running then to buy someone else's attempt at a repair. Such disclosure would be more time consuming, but honesty has burdens as well as rewards. I could recall countless recent success stories regarding my watches. I am blessed with support by talented individuals that understand my goals and support them. These craftsmen know that I'm in this for the long haul, and have gone above and beyond to deliver satisfying results, knowing that my commitment to them and the hobby will leave precious little open space on their benches. So its about trust and competence, knowledge and ability. Luckily, all I have to do is go to work and send a check now and again.
     
  43. Ethan Lipsig

    Ethan Lipsig Registered User
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    I want everything I own, not just pocket watches, to be in tip top shape. I have hundreds of pocket watches, all in running order (with the exception of a few parts movements, etc.), and almost all professionally serviced by competent professionals within the last 5 years, normally right after acquisition. Virtually all of my watches are reasonably high-end watches but, even so, I recognize that it makes little economic sense to service watches (including a few uncased movements) that are running well and that (except for bimonthly winding), I might only use once or twice per year, if at all. However, it makes me feel good to get these watches cleaned and in better working order, and my patronage helps keep a watchmaker or two in business.

    After reading this message string, I contacted my primary watchmaker to make sure he was doing an A+ job despite typically charging me around $135 for a COA on a time-only pocket watch. He replied that he was servicing watches up to Dr. Jon's standards, but he acknowledged that it was hard to make a decent living at the prices he charges. I told him that he ought to charge more. He declined but, before he changes his mind, I am sending him another 10 watches tomorrow.
     
  44. Bratdaddy@mac.com

    Bratdaddy@mac.com Registered User
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    I've said the same thing to my Watchmaker friends. Working at tight margins doesn't bode well for longevity. Like any profession, a person that feels the value of his time and skill is recognized will take pride in his work. Pride was a major component in the manufacture of these watches. Why not in their upkeep? I've read all sorts of arcane rationalizations for doing bad work. One fellow thought he was doing prospective buyers a favor. As I was working my way up the ladder I had the good fortune to be taught by a German National working for the U.S. OEM that things are right-or they are not. No gray area. Mechanical problems can't be reasoned with, only corrected. I don't mind spending money to service a new acquisition. That first service will remedy all the flaws. After that, the watch might sit, not corroding away, for who knows how long. But I know that the most it will ever need again is a routine service. Better now while I'm still drawing a salary then later when money might be tight. Its all about quality. Only the very rich can afford inferior service. The rest of us must take pains to get the best we can find and rely on issues being settled on the first go-around.
     
  45. 49stude63

    49stude63 Registered User

    Mar 21, 2009
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    If you figure 2-3 hours to tear the watch down, clean, re-assemble no buffing corrosion, no bluing hands, no buffing screws the watch is in good working order (any damage would increase the repair costs) and it just gets a clean/oil. At $120 that is ~$40-~$50 per hour depending how speedy you are. Someone said it takes 7 hours and they charge 250-300, guess what that is still in the low to mid $40/hr range and I hear people say they can't make a living at $40/hr, yikes people you guys are a tough bunch. Considering all the backlog everyone says they have especially the dude that charges $400 for a clean/oil, he is getting near $60/hr, using Dr Jon's time figures. Let's do that math, $30/hr x 2080= $62,400/yr, 40/hr x 2080=$83,200, $60/hr x 2080= $124,800. Average salary for a pharmacist $106K/yr and that is 4yrs college and 2 additional years. Average salary for a Dentist $135K, 4 yrs of college and 4 years of dental school. The typical hourly rate for a body shop or auto repair is in the 25-50 range/hr depending on what area of the country you are in. Watch repair equipment is no where in the range of dental equipment costs, ditto for the rent. I have been lucky in life but there are people that live on jobs that pay in the $20/hr range which end up being around 40K/yr to hear someone say they can't make a living charging 30-60 dollars/hr I am glad I live in Podunk Georgia.
     
  46. doug sinclair

    doug sinclair Registered User
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    Stude,

    There are none so deaf as those who will not hear. Cut that hourly rate in half after expenses! Sigh! Why do I bother?
     
  47. John Pavlik

    John Pavlik Registered User
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    Dec 30, 2001
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    Stude,

    You may have hit on something there.. Not everyone has the pleasure to live in Podunk.. and while taxes, rent, and general living is cheaper in some spots, , some poeple in the northern climates have to heat the house during the winter.. and we do not all like to chop wood.. Most body shops where I live charge 80 to 100 and hour.. The local Car dealers service depatment is in the same range.. have someone come and service your Air conditioning. First hour 75.00 plus a "truck" charge of 20.00.. One last one, have the computer Geek come out... 125 an hour.. In fact I do not know anyone that charges 40 dollars / hour.. Wait ..the lawn guy.. What skill......
     
  48. 49stude63

    49stude63 Registered User

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    John good story on the bodyshops, I work for a supply industry for the body shops and visit them on a regular basis as part of my job along with gathering competitive information. $80-100 per hour charge, you much be looking at the higher scale Mercedes, BMW, Lexus shops, probably in the NE and Calif. Rust belt states like Ohio, Wisc, Michigan etc are typically lower, southern states vary. Costs vary a bit depending if you are talking about an independent, consolidator, or dealership, or independent chain. Bodyshops are under great stress from insurance companies controlling what total charges are allowed etc, some deals are made with shops/insurance companies to increase volume but at a cut in cost rates. For an average independent shop or "mom & pop" shop you typically see 40-50/hr. The area around Detroit Michigan at one time had some of the lowest rates in the country, haven't been to many shops in the Detroit area in a few years but it might be in the 40-50 range now. Last shop I was at about 2 months ago was one of the few "certified" BMW collosion repair shops located in lower central Kentucky and his rates were in the figure that you mention but for that service cost you get your wrecked BMW transported to the shop, even if it is several states away, BMW will void the warranty on the car if any non BMW parts are used which now covers any aluminum parts (fender, wheels, suspension parts etc). So back to watches and labor rates.
     
  49. Kent

    Kent Registered User
    NAWCC Member

    Don't forget the benefits that working people get.

    If a worker takes two weeks vacation, he gets his regular pay for it. When a watchmaker working out of his home takes a two week vacation, he (or she) is out two weeks worth of repair income. The same goes for holidays and sick time. Oh yeah, then there's medical insurance.
     
  50. 49stude63

    49stude63 Registered User

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    #50 49stude63, Jun 24, 2009
    Last edited: Jun 24, 2009
    John since you mentioned "computer geek" @ 125/hr, if you pay that you need to call 911 because you have been robbed. I started building PC's for myself and for sale in the mid/late 80's back when the machines were XT compatible, could only address 640kb physical memory and a 40mb mfm encoded half-height hard drive was a killer system. I took basic and Pascal programming and some C++. I haven't bought a new pc (exception of laptops) since the 80's, I build my own or add/upgrade on the fly as I want. When someone charges you 125/hr for a computer repair you are being taken advantage of, more like robbery and yes I do get asked to fix PC's all the time, from co-workers, my daughter's friends, my wife's friends and I never charged. I have gotten some gifts for the work I did but charging 125 to fix a pc per hour is taking advantage of someone. I don't advertise but at $125/hr if that is what you are paying in Wisc, the "great white north is looking much better!!! I guess that some computer geeks and watch geeks and auto repair geeks have a lot in common. Also I checked the average posted labor rates for the body shop, for 1-"mechanical" 2-"metal/refinish", 3-"frame/structural" for an industry average.
    for 2003 for US average 1-$52 2-$40 3-$47
    for 2007 for US average 1-$64 2-$46 3-$54 ~55% of the respondants say they compromise labor rates to get work
    Pacific East-N-Central(rust belt) New England East South Central (Tn/Ky/Ala/Miss)
    for 2007
    2-$56 2-$46 2-$48 2-$40
    3-64 3-$55 3-$55 3-$51

    That was the last study and that is the average for metal/refinish (2) it gained an average of $6 over a 4 yr period but I would expect so currently it might be close to $50 but again that depends on how much they give up to get work. Obviously this nationwide study must have missed all of those expensive shops in Wisc.
     
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