Dewey, thanks for your thoughtful response. I got a lot more than I bargained for with my relatively short question...Thank you. For me, starting a small, modest collection would include learning how to properly care for my vintage watches...to learn how to seek and find someone knowledgeable and skilled. To clarify my original post, I didn't mean to say I'm not willing to pay for good service if a watch needs it. Rather, the frustration might be having bought a vintage timepiece but not being able to carry it for a year or more while awaiting reliable service. THAT would be hard. I've been warned more than once here, in just a couple of weeks, about the damage a watch can sustain in the hands of a repairer who isn't truly skilled. I hold experts in high esteem. For me, one of the best things ever is a professional who knows his or her craft or product or field up, down, and sideways, in and out, through and through. Such people deserve to be paid fairly. I'm still irritated at "Lexus guy" for not wanting to help pay for your house! Thank you for the links provided. I visited your website and will explore it some more. And I love the section for young watchmakers. All my professional life, I've longed for a real mentor who could guide and teach me. Recently, I learned of an ancestor who was bound out in the early 18th century to a shoemaker to learn his trade. While I'm sure these arrangements had downsides, I generally like the sound of it. I found a YouTube video of a film Hamilton made about 1949 to explain how a mechanical watch works. To a novice like me, the hairspring recalls a beating heart. I don't know whether the amazement ever wears off for watchmakers...or whether it intensifies. A mechanical watch is a marvel. And so are the commitment, know-how and steady hands of those who keep them ticking day after day and decade after decade.
Thanks for understanding what I was outlining. BTW, I never thought you were averse to paying for good service. There are in fact non professionals who are extremely skilled. But since they are pursuing a hobby, they do not accept work from others on a regular basis.
Presuming you are female, I have some understanding about the importance of women finding mentors. My daughter is a structural engineer and she has been very fortunate in first finding a female mentor at college and THEN finding a professional mentor at design firm.
Lexus guy is just one of a number amusing anecdotes that develop in business. I have stories about kited checks and even aircarft restoration hangers that tried to refuse payment. They are amusing because they all thought
they could get away with it. I learned in my childhood that you can iehter be pushed over or you can stand up for yourself. Another hint to young watchmakers.
As you noted from my site, I am on this list because I enjoy helping others who are pursuing excellence. Makes no difference to me if they are looking to become professional or want a hobby. It is about attitude.
To be clear, my postings are for "social" reasons. I enjoy the history of watch education, watch technology, techonological history and teaching (which is really simply helping others find a path to learning. I am convinced that "teaching" as generally accepted is impossible. It all depends upon the learner!) In twenty years, I have gotten maybe 10 customers from my posts. So that is obviously not why I do it. It scratches an itch.
I am particularly focused on the development of the Hamilton Watch Company. Most researchers follow the equipment and buildings. But that is not what makes a business. It is the people
who make the business. In this case Rood, Cain and Perry. To this day, it is hard to find "history" of Hamilton that focuses on these three. It is like they dropped out of the sky one day in 1891. In FACT, they were together for 20 years and ran two (or 4 depending on how you are counting) other companies. I THINK they grew up together but I need to get to the local historical society. These three were a true partnership where one was the finacial expert, one was the mechanical expert and one was the sales and distribution expert. Any of the two absolutey relied on the other third. This pattern held for their entire careers!
HAMILTON was a product of all they learned from the shortcomings of their previous businesses and what they found in other factories. It was well planned and executed and in fact was revolutionary in the world of watch manufacture and even mass production (predating Henry Ford by 10 years).
They were also fortunate enough to create Hamilton at a time when precision measurement became possible (the micrometer was patented around 1880 and companies like Starret and Brown and Sharp had just formed after doing contract work for Singer Sewing. Each thread leads to another story!)
Waltham was continuously having to reorganize because they built their factory around the model of multiple independent "shops under one roof". There was no systematic integration and they always had excessive parts they had to write down. Plus, until around 1920, they relied on the selective fit approach to assembly.
When you contrast this to Hamilton's model (with which they DOMINATED the RR market within 10 years), you really appreciate the thought process that went into it's creation.
As you can tell, that is the stuff that gets me jazzed.
I do not consider myself an "expert". Many colleagues do consider me a competent mechanic in the the classical use of the term.
When it comes time to finding someone to service your watches to faactory service, you should look at the education and certs (Wostep, BHI, Lititz school, etc), then look at their shop to see if it is clean, organized and properly equipped. Talk to them to find out how they evaluate their work: do they just let it run or do they they provide a final report on amplitudes at 12 and 24 hours and the rates at 5/6 positions. What is their warrany?
A big deal for many is location. I personally get very nervous when I send customer's dial or case out for service. I HATE having to trust others. So I fully understand if someone is nervous about sending out their expensive (relative I know) or sentimentally important piece to someon they never met. I HAVE had customers drive 100 miles to deliver their piece to see if I was real. Plus, they "know where I live".
In other words, there are many personal considerations that a person thinks about when finding someone to service their watches. And cost may well be the lower on the list.
Remember though, certification only means that once upon a time, the technician showed he/she knew the correct procedures and outcomes. And some certification systems are notoriously unreliable. This is why I recommend WOSTEP and BHI which have mechanisms to assure consistency of test procedures over time. But as we age, all of us drift from those standards on some level. FOr me, the objective measures of amplitude and positional rates helps keep me in the lane. This is perhaps THE reason modern brands require a printed record of each watch after it was serviced.
A surgeon may have been the Chief Resident at Johns Hopkins, but he can still decide to become careless and leave the surgery to take lunch and then takes a nap. It happens.
Life is crap shoot. Just don't hold onto the dice!