How does a watchmaking after-sales service work?

  • May, 30 2023
  • Advice

Sooner or later it was supposed to happen… you dropped your watch from your nightstand, you ran without removing your favourite mechanical timepiece, or the non-waterproof case got wet… this is the end of the world (or almost), for any true watch enthusiast. Fortunately, this is exactly why there is an after-sales service. Its watchmakers, constantly available and well-trained by the most prestigious brands in the world, have the expertise to diagnose and estimate the cost of repair work.

Buying a reputable brand of watch comes with a guarantee of being able to access a quality, trained, approved after-sales service. It's also an assurance of extended life for your timepiece, because good houses keep their own parts, know all the models, know how to repair them and what the unique features are of each of their references.

Shocks, sudden changes in temperature or use, watches not worn for months or years: in-store watchmakers are familiar with even the smallest of watchmaking issues. They will tell you what has to be done… and how long it will take. Indeed, apart from minor repairs or easily available parts changes, a service may take several weeks or months.

In recent years, watch brands have strengthened their teams in charge of after-sales service in factories, for a long time neglected in the sector. Moreover, procedures are increasingly strict: in the event of a problem requiring the watch to be opened or a complex operation to be performed, or again, access to certain parts, retailers are forced to send the watches back to Switzerland so that the intervention can be carried out by the brands' own teams. Indeed, in the factories, only these teams are authorised to carry out certain repairs.

This is for a number of reasons: to ensure that the protocols in place are complied with, which is always easier to monitor in a single-brand workshop than with independent watchmakers working with several houses, to prevent the watches from circulating and getting lost, being stolen or copied…

All of this allows you to understand why watchmaking after-sales services are often long and complex. Forms need to be filled out in order to go through customs from one country to another, insurance and guarantees are involved, according to the movements between different parts of the organisation, even within the same brand or group. The watches may take several weeks to arrive in Switzerland or to return, because shipments are grouped on certain dates, sometimes a repair requires the watch to go back and forth between the shop and the customer – because of a quote for a major repair, validation, support…

Thus, it shouldn't come as a surprise if your favourite timepiece takes more time than you first thought it might to get fixed. Similarly, if the bill is more expensive than initially hoped. All interventions work is calibrated and precise, and highly skilled workers are expensive. All the more reason to take good care of your favourite watch, or have several!