Watch, Clock, and Jewelry Repair

SIC 7631

Industry report:

This category covers businesses that primarily repair watches, clocks, or jewelry. Companies that primarily assemble watches from purchased parts are discussed in SIC 3873: Watches, Clocks, Clockwork Operated Devices, and Parts.

Most watch, clock, and jewelry repair shops are small, privately owned firms, often affiliated with local jewelry retailers. Large watch, clock, and jewelry makers may also have divisions devoted solely to repairing their products. Watch, clock, and jewelry repair firms fix malfunctioning and broken timepieces and jewelry.

The industry's watch and clock repair technicians (called horologists) replace broken or worn parts mainly with factory replacement parts. Technicians are able to repair both older mechanical and newer battery-operated quartz timepieces. When working with older timepieces, however, technicians often make replacement parts themselves. Approximately 60 percent of the 4,475 watch, clock, and jewelry repairers in the United States at the end of the first decade of the 2000s were self-employed, and 92 percent of the firms had fewer than five employees. Many self-proprietors operated their own repair shops or had contracts with jewelry retailers and department stores. Many new horologists found jobs with jewelry retail stores or department stores, and many large clock, watch, and jewelry makers employed horologists in their repair departments. Most repair technicians were members of the national watch, clock, and jewelry repair trade organization, the American Watchmakers-Clockmakers Institute, which published the monthly trade magazine, Horological Times.

Parsec Enterprises, Inc., based in Peoria, Illinois, and started in 1977 as a home-based business in the founder's basement, had the largest independent watch service facility in North America in the early 2010s. As of 2012, the company had serviced more than 2 million watches. The company serviced nearly every brand and provided warranty services for more than 25 major brands.

In the early 1990s, the United States had a shortage of qualified repair technicians. Analysts estimated that 9 of 10 Americans owned watches, and watch and jewelry sales rose consistently throughout the 1990s. However, widespread sales of inexpensive electronic watches reduced business for repair shops because the watches became less expensive to replace than to repair. The decrease, however, was offset by increased sales of replacement batteries.

Watch, clock, and jewelry repairers trained for one or two years at vocational schools, technical institutes, or junior colleges. Some states required repair technicians to be licensed. The National Association of Watch and Clock Collectors, Inc. (NAWCC), a nonprofit scientific organization, operated the NAWCC School of Horology and published The Watch & Clock Bulletin.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2011 there were 2,480 people in the United States employed specifically as watch repairers. These workers earned a national average salary of $19.51 an hour, and states with the highest numbers of watch repairers were New York, Florida, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Ohio. Top paying states for the occupation were Minnesota, Texas, Illinois, Rhode Island, and Iowa.

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