Over the past 18 months – really since the introduction of that watch from the fruit company – people have asked myself and my colleagues how big of a threat these new types of watches will be to the traditional mechanical timepiece industry. Sure, modern watch sales are down year-over-year, but is that really due to the introduction of the Apple Watch and its digital brethren? Doubt it. There is a myriad of threats to the Swiss watch industry, ranging from luxury taxes in China to an aging baby-boomer generation to a macro-level economic downturn. But one thing the watch industry can do something about and isn’t, is the gross, gross lack of servicemen and women able to fix the millions of watches pumped out of Switzerland each year.
Consider that there are significantly more old watches that need service each year, than there are new watches that need to be made – and yet, though the Swiss invest so significantly into watchmakers for creation, the industry as a whole seems to barely consider after-sales service. In this video, we head up to Manfredi Jewels in Greenwich, CT, to talk about this, and see why now more than ever we need qualified repairmen via a detailed look at servicing one of the most iconic timepieces in history – the Omega Speedmaster.
First things first – we chose to do this story at Manfredi because of their clear history with true watch lovers. Yes, they sell everything from Omega to FP Journe to Vacheron to AP to even Ressence, Kari Voutilainen, and Laurent Ferrier, but in speaking with the manager Rob and owner Roberto (his lovely wife’s name is Roberta, no lie), it’s clear this Greenwich staple is one of the few long-term watch establishments that get it. Manfredi employs a host of full-time watchmakers, including a young, outgoing watchmaker named Harry who actually sits on the sales floor. Though certainly not in his job description, I’m told that having him there to answer questions for customers has sold more than a few watches. But more importantly, he’s there to assist with the cleaning and servicing of the thousands of watches Manfredi has sold over the years, as well as those that are walking through the door for the first time.
On the day of our filming, a watch that came in for service is an icon to both HODINKEE readers and watch lovers the world over – a manually wound Omega Speedmaster Professional. To many, the Speedy Pro is a bastion of utilitarian design – a product that’s all meat and no fat.
The Speedmaster may be the ultimate tool watch to many, but its movement still contains 234 individual components that require regular cleaning and servicing.
But did you know that the Speedmaster’s caliber 1861 consists of 234 individual components? And every single one of those little micro-pieces needs to be examined, cleaned, and potentially repaired or replaced during a servicing. In the video above, we take you through several of the steps required to keep the legendary Omega Speedmaster going.
Impressive, isn’t it? Manfredi is just one example of an authorized retailer doing it right, offering a true high-grade watch service for clients. Most do not, and instead rely on Swiss manufactures to service the watches of their clients here in the U.S. This, of course, adds to the time and expenses associated with watch service – both already outrageous by many definitions. So next time you need your watch serviced, or even want to buy a watch, consider a retailer that is investing as much into after-sales service as he or she is into selling new watches. This will tell you a lot about where a retailer’s focus is and what their long-term goals are – the same can be said for any watch manufacture. Trust those who are investing in the future of watches, not just looking to make a quick sale.
For more on Manfredi Jewels, click here.
To read more on the watch service debate, click here for Oxford scholar Charles Conn’s personal tale.
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