Classic watches, watchmaking, antique tools, history, vintage ephemera and more!

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Seeking Profits

From Horology magazine, October, 1938

Seeking Profits

Some persons still have the notion that modern watches are not made as well as those produced in the "old days." Why anyone should have such an idea is not very clear, unless he clings to the old standards of performance as a basis of comparison. Actually, quite the contrary is true.

We must marvel at the beautiful finish, interchangeability of parts and general perfection of the modern timepiece. Adjustment of an escapement is now seldom necessary unless it has been tampered with, usually by a novice. What a contrast between the nicely fitted pallet stones of the average present day watch and the crudely cemented ones found in the older watches.

Despite the improvement in manufacture, however, too many timepieces are subject to early deterioration. The factory finishes are rarely retained undamaged after a watch gets its first treatment in a repair shop. The damaskeened plates, polished surfaces and screw slots become covered with a mass of nicks and scratches. The responsibility for this may be laid directly to the retail jewelers.

For many years the watch department has been considered non-paying and a necessary evil. Just why, no one seems to know. Modern competition has compelled jewelers to adopt more efficient business methods and they realize that all items carried in their establishments must bring a profit. Thus, they have also proceeded to make their repair departments more profitable. In all too many instances the change has been for the worse and instead of plugging the real holes, such as unreasonable guarantees or service for which a charge should be made but is nevertheless rendered free, they have placed the watch departments on a percentage basis. The repairer gets a percentage of the charge made to the customer, if the job is paid for, and nothing if the store decides to give the job away.

During the last few years this situation has become known to many patrons of jewelry stores and, thinking to get better service by paying the full cost of the repairs direct to the horologists, they have endeavored to trace the shops where the actual work is done. Perhaps this is why many watches purchased in exclusive establishments find their way into irresponsible repair shops. 

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