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Reply to Silbert's Letter

From The American Horologist and Jeweler magazine, February, 1942

Reply to Silbert's Letter


Received the copy of Mr. Silbert's letter and article. My articles were not written with any smug satisfaction, but for the purpose of bringing forth the ills of our business. Commenting on Mr. Silbert's article is as follows: My articles have covered the entire jewelry trade and not only trade shops. My statements were learned through experience and from men who earn their bread and butter at the bench, the hard way to make a living. The watchmaker is the one who knows the conditions in our trade better than the jeweler or trade shop employer.

The watchmaker is the only one who knows if the watch was done properly, the jeweler and customer assumes that it has been done. The jeweler is not always the best judge of proper watch work if he does not do the job. Therefore it is a matter of believing and not knowing. Under our present methods of today a watch can be cleaned and made to go for whatever price the jeweler demands that it be done for, and not according to what it needs or how it should be done. It is always a matter of price.

The jeweler does keep the trade watchmaker in business., His purpose for this is for a lower cost to have his watches cleaned. Usually it is a lower cost, which is today considered good business, but in watch work it is only a lower cost in proportion of what or how it is done.

It is true that too many jewelers and so-called watchmakers scout around to get a job done that he is not capable of doing himself, but we have as many watchmakers who claim they can do it. The majority of trade shops or any shop is run on a business basis, which is profit, but whether or not all are run on a scientific basis is a big question, if by scientific it is meant a watch put in order properly.

It is unusual to hear of or know very many repair departments where the work is done first and the charge based on this for the price to the customer, although you state there is a flat rate charge for labor this is not consistent. The general jewelry trade charge the customer less for a watch repair than the maker of the watch. This certainly is a mystery with the majority of us until the jobs are compared and then we find the difference in cost is the difference in work not done.

Consumer and jeweler alike want the watchmaker to do things that would only be possible to a magician, yet the majority of watchmakers promised to the customer things that he would have to be a magician to do. 

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