Because mechanical watches these days are enthusiast interests, and big Swiss brands generally want to handle their own repairs, the independent watch repair shop is increasingly a rarity. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that only 2,200 individuals work in watch repair nationwide. Compare that to the tens of thousands of shops from 50 or so years ago, and you can’t help but feel wistful for the American watch repairman.
Even though the craft’s scale has winnowed, it remains a passionate and mostly dependable industry. Ideally, what you’ll look for is a shop that has been accredited or certified by a brand or a watchmaking organization like the American Watchmaker-Clockmaker Institute (AWCI) or Watchmakers of Switzerland Training and Educational Program (WOSTEP). These individuals have gone through rigorous testing and schooling to master their craft.
Admittedly, these certifications are rare. (Just over 200 individuals in the US hold the AWCI’s coveted title of Certified Watchmaker of the 21st Century, which entails extreme proficiency in modern watch repair and whose certification exam has a considerably high fail rate.) And because not everyone needs an OMEGA Co-Axial movement fully rebuilt, there’s merit to going to the guy down the block with decades of experience and a penchant for service with a smile.
That’s why, to find all of these gems, we asked the watch fanatics who read Gear Patrol to tell us their favorites, picked the 10 most compelling shops, and added a few of our own. These highly trained, experienced and friendly shops are 15 of the best in the US that are still standing — and if you’re not within a short drive, most are happy to receive your watch through shipping and shoot it back your way when it’s fixed.
From the Readers
Your Favorite Shops, Coast to Coast
Their website is impressive and full of information, and the shop has worked on timepieces from around the world. The shop’s master watchmaker, Matt Miner, looked over my Grandfather’s Hamilton pocket watch (handed down to my father and to me) from the 1930s and was very impressed. Luckily, I had kept the watch covered so it wasn’t exposed and was in fairly good condition. He got it back to me exactly when he said he would and had it running perfectly. We talked about the watch and he gave me a lot of information about the piece. I have an OMEGA, given to me by my other grandfather, that I will also be bringing to Connecticut Timekeepers. — John T. (Milford, CT)
3530 Main Street, Stratford, CT 06614 | (203) 380-8963 | cttimekeepers.com
RGM Watch Co.
They have probably the best-equipped shop in the country and do modern, vintage and antique watch repairs and restorations. — Robin (PA)
801 West Main St., Mount Joy, PA 17552 | (717) 653-9799 | rgmwatches.com
I’d been commuting out of Grand Central for many years without ever coming across Central Watch, until I went looking for work to be done to my Ball watch and learned they were an authorized dealer. Since I finally found out where they were located, they’ve helped me with numerous things — extra links, new straps and a tune-up. They also have a nice selection of vintage watches, which is great to see in person — especially for somebody who buys mostly online. They’ve always been super helpful and I have recommended them to numerous friends looking for a watch store that isn’t just a jewelry store that sells watches. — Bill D. (New York, NY)
45th Street Passageway, Grand Central Station New York, NY 10017 | (212) 685-1689 | central watch.com
Claudio’s Watch Repair
Claude Cur is CW21 certified and is just good and honest. He is under the radar and does not take the easy approach, which someone unfortunately did with my 1944 Omega W.W.W. milwatch. Cur is great at servicing and repairing Omega cal. 321 movements — that itself is a task deserving accolade. — Patrick, F (Charlotte, NC)
106 East South Main St., Waxhaw, NC 28173 | (704) 843-4102 | claudioswatchrepair.com
J. D. Watchworks
Julius Dabrowski is known for Breitling repairs and fixes. When we spoke on the phone, I felt very comfortable and confident with my repair, even though he couldn’t price it without seeing it. I mailed it and within a couple of days he had a quote for me that was very reasonable. A week later, and the repairs were complete. Julius was incredibly polite and said I could pick it up (two hours away) or he could mail it, or, better yet, that he was going to be around my neck of woods and could meet me at Starbucks. Very easy transaction. I had a follow-up servicing done on both my watches. I have a lot of confidence in Julius and love his small hidden shop in San Francisco. — Mike B. (Sacramento, CA)
210 Post Street Suite 506, San Francisco, CA 94108 | (415) 397-0310 | jdwatchworks.com
I was a complete novice regarding vintage watches and took my first vintage find to About Time for a cleaning and a new band. They did a great job rejuvenating a 1950s gold OMEGA “Bumper” that I wear as a dress watch. I loved their enthusiasm and interest and was hooked. I’ve since moved out east but would consider sending my watches to About Time in the future. — Robert E. (Wilmington, NC)
1429 University Ave, San Diego, CA 92103 | (619) 955-5959 | sandiegotimezone.com
Jostmar Jewelers & Watch Repair
A second-generation shop where the employees truly love watches, treat all customers with respect and offer fair and reasonable prices. I often send people there to have links taken out, and they never even charge them. — Dan M. (Huntington Beach, CA)
3333 Bristol St, Costa Mesa, CA 92626 | (714) 966-2953 | yelp.com
The Watch Buyers Group
It’s a super-reliable Rolex repair shop that has access to authentic parts. Shipping is free, and they’ll provide a no-cost estimate of the work. They won’t change you a dime you don’t authorize. They communicate really well, and they’re the absolute opposite of the black-box experience of a Rolex Service Center. — Joe H. (Waltham, MA)
380 S Lake Ave, STE 206, Pasadena, CA 91101 | (626) 844-0170 | thewatchbuyersgroup.com
Setrak’s Watch Repair
An old shop with a caring/knowledgeable owner/operator. He services all kinds of watches for reasonable prices with great care and results. — Nathan L. (San Francisco, CA)
210 Post Street, Suite 708, San Francisco, CA 94108 | (415) 398-4130 | www.setrakswatchrepair.com
Tick Tock Shop
The shop is small, but stocked to the brim, and can repair anything from intricate Swiss mechanical timepieces to 200-year-old stable clocks. It doesn’t hurt that you can browse stock to fuel the addiction while the repairs are underway. — Noah C. (Colorado Springs, CO)
7 North Circle Drive, Colorado Springs, CO 80909 | (719) 475-8585 | ticktockshoponline.com
The Long-Time Experts We Admire
For an old-school watch, go for an old-school repairman. 90-year-old Al Maddox, a Brooklynite born and raised, has been repairing watches in downtown Manhattan since the 1940s. He works by himself, out of a small room, and is known for his quick, affordable repairs and his dedication to service with a smile.
116 Nassau St, Room 836, New York, NY 10038 | (212) 962-6225 | yelp.com
Treiber & Straub
Trieber & Straub’s Jeffrey Debbink is not only a graduate of the Watchmakers of Switzerland Training and Education (WOSTEP) program, he’s also one of the couple dozen watchmakers in the US to complete the AWCI’s stringent Twenty-First Century Certified Master Watchmaker (CMW21) certification. The shop both sells and services brands like Cartier, Patek Philippe and TAG Heuer.
14740 W. Capitol Drive, Brookfield, Wisconsin 53005 | (262) 790-5757 | treiberandstraub.com
Excel Time Service
Excel has an impressive roster — its founder is a former executive at Rolex, and it employs three watchmakers (one with CMW21 certification, the other with CW21) who between them have a wealth of formal training from a variety of brands including Seiko, Hublot, Rolex, Breitling and ETA to name just a few. Also in Excel’s employ is a “Master Polisher,” who has over 20 years of experience polishing watch cases and bracelets.
121 Alhambra Plaza Suite 1205, Coral Gables, FL 33134 | (305) 460-0019 | exceltimeservice.com
Cleves and Lonnemann Jewelers
Cleves and Lonnemann, established over 80 years ago, is headed by Charlie Cleves, a third-generation watchmaker who holds the elusive CMW21 certification. C&L keeps a well-equipped workshop and a storefront stocked with vintage timepieces.
319 Fairfield Ave, Bellevue, KY 41073 | (859) 261-3636 | clevesandlonnemann.com
Nesbit’s Watch Service
A family-owned watch-repair service that’s been around since 1895, employed with watchmakers who have received WOSTEP and CW21 certification. Nesbit’s gets official part supply from brands like Rolex, OMEGA and Patek Philippe, and provides ultrasonic cleaning of movements, water-pressure testing up to 1,200 meters and a warranty on repairs.
1425 4th Ave Suite 402 Seattle, WA 98101 | (206) 623-1211 | nesbitswatchservice.com
How do I choose a watchmaker? ›
Watchmakers tend to work on multiple watches at a time. Look carefully at the watches that the watchmaker is working on – a fine watchmaker will be working on similar pieces. To find a reputable watchmaker, look for a quiet introvert sitting in a small room away from the public eye, and they will be your watchmaker.How much does a watch service cost? ›
A full-service appointment at your retailer, like the purchase price of your timepiece, will vary. A simple luxury mechanical watch service can cost between $150 - $250, while a multi-complication luxury service can cost between $1500 and $2500.What is a professional watch fixer called? ›
Alternative titles for this job include Horologist, clock maker. Watch and clock repairers mend, service and restore items that tell the time.Is it worth getting a watch repaired? ›
Repairing a watch depends on what is faulty with the watch and what is its value to you. If you are adept at watch repairs then it can be worth trying to repair it yourself, but if the watch has high value to you, or is worth a lot of money, or has a difficult-to-repair watch I would go to a watch repairer.Who are the top 3 watchmakers? ›
Also known as the 'Big Three', the holy trinity of watches includes Audemars Piguet, Patek Philippe, and Vacheron Constantin.Which watchmaker is the best? ›
Patek Philippe consistently tops the list of best watch brands in the world and is a status symbol like no other. Founded in 1839, the Swiss company is the last family-owned independent watch manufacturer in Geneva.What watch do the Navy SEALs wear? ›
The Luminox Navy SEAL watch is the timepiece that made Luminox famous. In 1992, the Assistant RDT&E Officer for the Navy SEALs, Nick North, was asked to seek a more dependable watch for night missions and found the solution when he discovered Luminox.How often should a watch be serviced? ›
Generally, we suggest that new watches be serviced at least every five to seven years. Similarly, if you have a watch you bought more than a decade ago, it should also be serviced every five years at minimum to keep it running smoothly.What does a full watch service include? ›
A full watch service
Which generally means the watch being entirely dismantled and cleaned. If parts are broken or need replacing, these parts will be replaced and the movement will be re-assembled and lubricated. If you watch is waterproof the gasket will need to be resealed and pressure tested.
|State||Employment (1)||Hourly mean wage|
|New York||120||$ 29.64|
How much do Rolex repairmen make? ›
The estimated base pay is $68,128 per year. The estimated additional pay is $23,961 per year. Additional pay could include bonus, stock, commission, profit sharing or tips.What do you call a master watchmaker? ›
A horologist designs, builds and repairs watches. Becoming a horologist requires patience, dedication and the completion of watchmaking school or an apprenticeship.How long should a watch last you? ›
Mechanical watches are designed to last a lifetime, and if taken care of they can last multiple lifetimes. Normal wear and tear from everyday wear is expected with watches, which is why it is recommended to service them every 3-5 years.Are old watches worth keeping? ›
Whether they're working or not, it's worth the time to keep those old, vintage timepieces. There are many watch collectors who have their eyes set on vintage watches. And, you can be one of them. Really, there's no harm to place them inside your treasure box.What makes an expensive watch better? ›
Just like any luxury item, luxury watches must be of a certain build quality to command their hefty 'luxury' price tag. As such, brands and watchmakers cannot skimp on their materials. When they use precious metals, they can't use plating or capping; they have to use solid gold or platinum.What is the #1 watch in the world? ›
|Most popular model:||the Rolex Submariner|
- Rolex. Date established: 1905. ...
- Patek Philippe & Co. Date established: 1851. ...
- IWC Schaffhausen. Date established: 1868. ...
- Chopard. Date established: 1860. ...
- Omega. Date established: 1903. ...
- Raymond Weil. Date established: 1976. Location: Geneva. ...
- Tudor. Date established: 1946. Location: Geneva. ...
- TAG Heuer.
Movado has slowly moved more into the fashion watch side of the market. Starting as a high end Swiss watch brand, Movado has evolved to put more focus on their affordable timepieces and acquiring fashion watch brands in the U.S. Today, Movado owns 11 fashion watch brands and is the second largest American watch group.What watch is better than a Rolex? ›
Patek Philippe arguably owns the top-tier of high-horology. Once, the most expensive watch ever sold was a Patek Philippe with many complications and sold for over 11 million dollars, second only to a Rolex that was worn by Paul Newman.What watch do Marines wear? ›
We have the DW-6600, the 5600, the 6900, and the 9052. These are rugged digital watches designed specifically to take a beating. Several have NSN numbers, and they have been issued in small numbers via unit purchases. However, for the modern military, the G-Shock is the watch of choice.
What watch do most soldiers wear? ›
Military Watches: Big Brands. Today, there are many options in the market, differing in design and price. The bigger, named brands that are chosen by many service members are G-Shock, Seiko, Luminox, Suunto, Marathon, and Garmin.Do Navy SEALs get a Rolex? ›
Rolex Submariner watches were the choice and standard issue for NAVY SEALs from their inception in 1962 up until 1983, when they switched over to Casio G-Shock watches. Navy SEAL's specialize more than anything in amphibious operations which include underwater demolition, as well as other aquatic operations.Should you wear a watch everyday? ›
Even if you only own one nice watch, you shouldn't wear it every day for several reasons. First, if the watch is a piece that you love, giving the watch a break will make it last longer. Second, one watch is rarely suited to the variety of outfits that a man will wear in a given week.When should you not change watch? ›
Avoid setting the date when the watch is between 9PM and 3AM. The watch's date mechanism has begun to automatically change the date and could become damaged during this time if the date is manually set.How often should you wash your watch? ›
If you wear your watch every day, give it a deep clean once a month. The most meticulous watch wearers will wipe down their timepieces daily. Just like washing your face and brushing your teeth before bed, your watch can benefit from a quick clean.What is considered an everyday watch? ›
Everyday watches are just that. They are watches you can wear in your daily life. Oftentimes these watches are made watches with less precious metals like stainless steel or titanium, but they cover a variety of styles and can be worn with just about anything.How much does it cost for Rolex to service a watch? ›
The cost to service a Rolex ranges between $800 – $1,200 for most watches at a Rolex service center. When you submit your Rolex to a RSC, you'll receive an estimate and that will vary depending on the condition of the watch, movement, age of the watch, and if any parts needs to be replaced.What happens if you don't service your watch? ›
You could go years without ever going to a watchmaker even though the pivots in your watch are running dry, sheering, and causing build up of debris and dirt. The sheering (from the pivots running dry) thins out the pivots until it eventually snaps altogether. This could happen in several months or several years.How much does a salesman at Rolex make? ›
How much does a Sales Professional make at Rolex in the United States? Average Rolex Sales Professional hourly pay in the United States is approximately $20.26, which is 40% above the national average.What is the average age of a Rolex owner? ›
Yet 68-years-old is a significant milestone nonetheless, because according to the Pew Research Center's Social & Demographic Trends survey, this specific birthday is widely perceived to signal the beginning of old age.
How much does a Watchmaker make at Patek Philippe? ›
Significantly, Luxury Watchmaker jobs pay 21.2% ($11,540) more than the average Patek Philippe salary of $54,537.What is the best Rolex to buy to make money? ›
As a general rule, steel Rolex sports watches reliably hold or appreciate in value. This includes, in particular, the GMT-Master II with its famous two-coloured bezel, the Cosmograph Daytona, and the ever-popular Submariner 16610.How much does a high end Watchmaker make? ›
While ZipRecruiter is seeing annual salaries as high as $130,000 and as low as $20,000, the majority of Luxury Watchmaker salaries currently range between $41,500 (25th percentile) to $81,000 (75th percentile) with top earners (90th percentile) making $120,000 annually across the United States.What is the yearly salary of a Watchmaker? ›
The average Watchmaker salary in the United States is $38,153 as of January 26, 2023, but the range typically falls between $35,951 and $44,410.Who is the oldest watchmaker? ›
Blancpain - 1735
The oldest watch brand is Blancpain, founded in 1735 by Jehan-Jacques Blancpain.
- Rolex: Rolex is one of the world's most well-known luxury watch companies. ...
- Cartier: Cartier is another well-known luxury watchmaker. ...
- Omega: Louis Brandt started Omega in 1848, and the company has been creating watches ever since. ...
- Patek Philippe: ...
- Audemars Piguet: ...
Also, a watchmaker needs good manual dexterity, including a well-developed sense of touch, and keen eyesight to manipulate dozens of extremely small components with jewel-like precision.How many watches should a man own? ›
An average man needs at least three types of watches because not only does a watch tell time, but it is a valuable piece of accessories too. A man should have a dress, diving, and casual everyday watch. It is also good to have a tool watch for hobbyists, aside from the casual watch that is good for daily wear.What type of watches last forever? ›
One of the most amazing things about an automatic watch is its longevity. Unlike a battery powered or quartz watch, with the right craftsmanship, an automatic watch has an indefinite lifespan, pausing only when the wearer ceases to wind or move the internal mechanisms of the timepiece.Which watch will holds its value best? ›
The top two — Rolex and Patek Philippe are considered to be, by far, the most collectable luxury watch brands, and the most likely to hold and even appreciate in value over time. This is due to brand recognition, exclusivity, popularity, quality, etc.
How old must a watch be to be considered vintage? ›
Antique watches are at least 100 years-old. Vintage watches are at least 20 years-old. Any watch under 20 years is likely to be classified as simply “old”—neither modern nor quite yet vintage.How old should a watch be to be vintage? ›
What exactly is vintage? The definition of what makes a watch vintage can vary widely, but it's generally said to be anything 25-30 years old, or older.Which brand sells the most expensive watch? ›
The No. 1 most expensive watch brand in the world is Patek Philippe, originally named Patek, Czapek & Cie back upon its establishment in 1839. There are a few reasons why this brand is so incredibly expensive — its priciest timepiece and the most expensive watch to ever sell, to date — sold for $31.9 million.What watch brands increase or retain value? ›
OMEGA Speedmaster, Patek Philippe Nautilus, Audemars Piguet Royal Oak, and Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso are each icons of well established brands. This stability of a model within a stable brand brings more attention to the watch and the more people know a model the more it will retain the value.What are the 10 most expensive watch brands? ›
- 1- Graff Diamonds - Hallucination.
- 2- Chopard – 201 carats.
- 4- Jacob & Co –Billionaire.
- 6- Patek Philippe – 1518.
- 7- Vacheron Constantin – 57260.
- 8- Vacheron Constantin – Kallania.
- 9- Mouawad - Snow White Princess Diamond Watch.
- Consider The Movement. If you're showing off your new watch, the first thing any watch snob will do, instead of admiring the dial, is to turn it over. ...
- Set Your Budget. How much to spend and what will that get you? ...
- Consider Your Own Character. ...
- Complicate Things. ...
- Choose Your Strap.
Some of the main reasons include the fact that they are super complex, and the cost of labor to produce them is often insanely high because there are so few watchmakers able to make them in the first place. But on top of that, luxury brands are able to pay a premium price simply because of the name of the brand.How much does a high end watchmaker make? ›
While ZipRecruiter is seeing annual salaries as high as $130,000 and as low as $20,000, the majority of Luxury Watchmaker salaries currently range between $41,500 (25th percentile) to $81,000 (75th percentile) with top earners (90th percentile) making $120,000 annually across the United States.What watches are better than Rolex? ›
Patek Philippe arguably owns the top-tier of high-horology. Once, the most expensive watch ever sold was a Patek Philippe with many complications and sold for over 11 million dollars, second only to a Rolex that was worn by Paul Newman.What watch do millionaires wear? ›
- Elon Musk – TAG Heuer Carrera Calibre 1887 SpaceX Chronograph. ...
- Jeff Bezos- Ulysse Nardin Dual Time. ...
- Bill Gates-Casio Duro Marlin. ...
- Tim Cook – black Apple Watch. ...
- 05. Bernard Arnault-TAG Heuer. ...
- Warren Buffet-Gold Rolex Day-Date. ...
- Larry Ellison-Richard Mille RM005.
What time of year is best to buy watches? ›
When you buy watches in January – they can cost a lot less than they do the rest of the year! While many people make pretty irrational decisions when the sales are on (what do you mean it's an ugly dress, it was 70% off!) If you shop wisely you can get some fantastic bargains in January.What gives a watch value? ›
Evaluating Your Watch's Condition
While brand, age, and rarity are all factors that can impact how much your watch is worth, none are more important than the condition. Timepieces are delicate and when neglected, it can cause damage to the numerous mechanics within.
- Under $100: 1) Timex. 2) G-Shock. 3) Swatch.
- Under $300: 4) Seiko. 5) Orient. ...
- Under $500: 7) Tissot. 8) Hamilton. ...
- Under $1500: 10) Longines. 11) Nomos. ...
- Under $3000: 13) Tudor. 14) Breitling. ...
- Under $5000: 16) Omega. 17) IWC. ...
- Under $7500: 19) Cartier. 20) Grand Seiko. ...
- Watch Brands I would avoid: 1) Hublot. 2) Franck Muller.
How much do Rolex Watch Repair Technician employees make? Employees as Rolex Watch Repair Technician earn an average of $43k, mostly ranging from $43k per year to $43k per year based on 1 profiles. The top 10% of employees earn more than $43k per year.How much does a watchmaker at Rolex earn? ›
The estimated total pay for a Watchmaker at Rolex is $92,089 per year.