April 2019 Update

After a long break from not updating this website, I thought I’d let you know what I’ve been up to recently. My first hand-made watch is finished! It’s been over 7 years since I started on the path to become a watchmaker, but I can finally say that I am one now – having made my own watch.

The final touch is the dial, which is at the dial makers at the moment. I had hoped to make the dial myself, and I may at one point in the future. For the moment I just wanted he watch finished.

I will do a full post about the watch and what parts I’ve made made and adjusted, but roughly the watch it one third hand-made, one third customised, and the final third original. There’s still a lot to do though, but it is very satisfying to just have it finished.

Some of the parts that are 100% hand-made include: 4 wheels, 13 screws, the case, a second mainplate that sandwiches the new wheels in place, the winding stem and the balance staff.

The case is all hand-made
The bridges are all given a hammered finish, the screws have been blued and the click, crown wheel and ratchet wheel have been hand-made
This is the final watch but with a temporary paper dial until the finished dial is printed and ready

At the workshop where I worked as a watchmaker I was promoted to be the Service Centre Manager around this time last year, and then in February this year I was promoted again to be the Head of Service Centre and Technical Services. As we are part of the largest watch and jewellery company in the world, this has afforded me lots of opportunities.

One of the most rewarding of those opportunities is that I now have two of my own apprentices who I am training to become watch technicians and another two watch technicians who are training to become watchmakers. I have designed a 5 year course for them to follow, which will take them from zero background in the industry to being a commercially capable watchmaker able to work on all modern, and some vintage, watches.

Checking for gaps of light when shaping the ring

I also have big news in that I got married in October 2018. I was lucky in that I was able to use some of the same metal working skills I had learned when I was training to become a watchmaker to make our wedding rings – giving them a very personal touch.

I was able to wear wear my watch – and of course our rings – on our wedding day

Hopefully in the next few months we will be moving into our new home The benefit of which is that I will have my own dedicated workshop; with the potential to expand in the future. There are still many parts of my watch that I am not satisfied with and I will continue to work on improving it.

8 Comments

  1. david pierce

    Colin,
    You are a great inspiration to those of us who are watchmaker wannabees sitting on the sidelines. It is always uplifting to see someone throw their hat into the ring and follow the dream. that many of us who have jumped into the world of watches can only think about.
    david

    1. Colin

      Hi David,

      Thank you for your kind reply. I have been fortunate enough to have had some real encouragement along the way and so it would be very rewarding if I could pass some of that on. Watchmaking is a career where it is never too late to jump off the sidelines – you’ve no excuse 🙂

      Colin

      1. Julian

        Please do keep updating the site. I am sure there are others out there who will be inspired by your efforts and achievements as I am myself.
        As an over fifty I would dearly love to be on that watchmakers path, however family and finances are large hurdles to overcome.
        Please continue with the posts and remember inspire us and inform us this does not need to be a dying craft.
        God bless all the best to you and your new bride.

        1. Colin

          Hi Julian,

          Thank you for your kind message.

          I am glad that you can find some encouragement from my updates. There has thankfully been even more positive progress in just the couple of weeks since my last post and I will hope to report on that soon.

          If there is anything I can help with to get you started on your watchmaking journey, please let me know.

          Colin

    1. Colin

      Hi George,

      Yes, it’s the only really sustainable long term solution to the shortage of watchmakers. I find there’s a lot of interest from young people in wanting to take up the career; each time I’ve advertised a position I’ve had 20+ applicants in the first week.

      Colin

  2. Pip

    Colin,
    Firstly, congratulations on your marriage, the photo is amazing. (I have to say though, it does look like you are punching above you weight there mate!) I have vicariously followed your watchmaking progress on your site and am really happy to see you post again after a long gap. Looking forward to the next round of informative posts – I’m learning watchmaking but can’t financially give up the dayjob to follow the passion; building up the skills for when I reach retirement age though and enjoying working on my own watches and those of friends. Maybe starting BHI next year if other commitments allow.
    Anyway, just wanted to say that I’m glad to see you back.

    1. Colin

      Hi Pip,

      Thank you for your message. Yes, I have done well for myself! My motto for everything is always “aim high” 🙂

      It’s encouraging that you find the website useful, and hopefully you’ll find the motivation to start on your own career within the industry soon.

      Cheers

      Colin

Leave a Reply