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Pro Bono Publico

From The American Horologist magazine, March 1938

Pro Bono Publico

HOROLOGY holds a very necessary and important place among the professions in providing accurate timekeeping facilities far the public, and Horologists, like all professionals educated in an art, have had to contend with unscrupulous and incompetent persons who, for profit, have ever been ready ta take advantage of the public who have no way of judging their competency.

A practical knowledge of horology and its successful application can only be acquired by a thorough education in all of the various branches of the art. The practice of an unskilled person in attempting to repair valuable timepieces invariably results in dissatisfaction and often results in injury ta such timepieces which casts an unwarranted reflection on our profession.

Far the purpose of protecting the public against this condition THE UNITED HOROLOGICAL ASSOCIATION OF AMERICA has been urging the adaption of stringent laws governing the practice of horology in the several States. The progress we have made in the past year is gratifying and watchmakers all aver this broad land of ours are joining with us in advocacy of such protective legislation.

A number of State Associations of Watchmakers have prepared, or are preparing, bills ta be presented ta their State Legislatures. These bills, when enacted, will provide for Registration and Licensing of Watchmakers and for regulating the practice of horolagy.

These bills are drawn so as ta be lenient ta all those now practicing but will provide far an examination as to proficiency for those entering the practice of horology in the State after the enactment of this legislation. The bills set up rules and regulations and establish a code of business ethics which will eliminate the incompetent and dishonest workmen. The beneficial effects of such 

legislation will be felt almost immediately in the stabilization of the watchmaking business.

At the present time in most States an incompetent person may set up in business as a watchmaker without let or hindrance, as there is no State Agency to test his ability and integrity. All he needs is a bench, a few tools, and a sign. Work taken in that is beyond his ability to repair is sent to some one who will make it run for him. These persons usually advertise low, odd-cent, prices but their work is expensive to the customer in a great many cases. The public is not aware as to who the incompetents are until they patronize them and then they judge all watchmakers by the unsatisfactory work of these gyps.

The general public has realized that in order to protect itself from quacks in other professions and trades it had to pass licensing and regulatory laws to that end. This has been done in many lines with most satisfactory results and is the only way in which control of the actions of persons engaged in trade can be accomplished.

As to the first benefits coming from Registration and Licensing of Watchmakers, we refer you to reports from Wisconsin, the first State to License Watchmakers. As a result of the licensing law the number of watchmakers in that state has been materially reduced.

It is becoming more and more difficult to find watchmakers to fill positions and every person entering the trade must pass a strict examination before the State Board of Watchmakers. The September issue of THE AMERICAN HOROLOGIST gives an outline of this examination and the passing grade. The Wisconsin Industrial Commission, in a survey of the trade in this area, has determined that the average prevailing wage of watchmakers has recently increased more than 10% and further rise is certain. Watchmakers' wages in Wisconsin have been considerably below the average paid in other trades. Price advertising has been prohibited in the State and a Suggested Minimum Price List has been agreed upon by a Joint Committee of the Wisconsin Watchmakers Association and the Wisconsin Jewelers Association. The January 1938 issue of THE AMERICAN HOROLOGIST prints this list in full. We think these prices are fair to both the watchmaker and the public as it makes possible the high class work we like to do and makes satisfied customers who will become our advertisers instead of our detractors.

The Watchmakers in the State of Wisconsin have a large and strong State Association and are affiliated with and are enthusiastic supporters of THE UNITED HOROLOGICAL ASSOCIATION OF AMERICA. 

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