Watchmaking is a unique trade. There are two
fundamental pre-requirements which would ultimately make the difference
between an average watchmaker and a master: attention to detail, and willingness to learn.|
Unfortunately, most apprentices either lack the attention to detail, or
give up learning prematurely. This is often the case with both
apprentices, and mature watchmakers who work for big brands, where daily
routine revolves about repairing a handful of watch calibres. Same, the
same, - and more of it. Where volume is more important than creativity,
and repairing really means replacing almost the entire mechanism, there
is not much to learn.
Working on as many different watches as possible - especially during
early forming years is absolutely crucial for early development. George
Daniels repaired vintage pocket watches for 50 years before developing
his own escapement.
Attention to detail is like the ability to sing or paint - it is a gift.
A gift which requires constant nourishing in order to blossom. If you
are considering watchmaking as a profession, or you are already on the
path of becoming a watchmaker, then I strongly recommend adopting habits
that will help you laser sharpen your attention to detail.
Disconnect! Facebook, TikTok, online gaming, and all
that rubbish is for low IQ time wasters. Something you simply have no
time for. But it is not just about time: the fast changing images,
accompanied with the fast beat repetitive “music”, will turn you into a
Take notes. Pen and notebook! Write it down. Draw.
Sketch. Note it. Keep a record. Document. Lock it in time. Calculate.
All this and more – with just a humble pen and paper. An apprentice
without a pen and notebook is not worth investing in.
Keep the workbench tidy. A couple months ago, we
employed a mature machinist and toolmaker. He is our highest paid
employee, but he is worth every cent. Josh is completely blown away with
how clean and tidy his bench is. This is a habit acquired decades ago,
paying off well. Not to mention the obvious: excellent results are not a
product of chaos or ‘bench anarchy’, but tidiness; you can not chase
microns on a messy bench. Like toolmaking, watchmaking is an art form;
misplacing and losing parts will quickly lead to frustration.
The devil is in the details. Reading technical manuals
and technical books is essential. An apprentice who finds reading (and
writing) either too difficult or too boring is like a blunt tool.
Take time to observe. Sit down, slow down and focus.
Create an environment that would allow you to focus on detail by showing
care for and attention to every feature or aspect, no matter how small
or insignificant it may seem. Look carefully and ask "why" and "what if"
and you will see it clearly.