What can the conscientious watchmaker promise his clients by way of accuracy?

This piece from The Journal of Horology provides interesting insight into timekeeping accuracy, and marketing, of watches in the 1940s and 50s.

Jeff Sexton on

In many branches of commerce the client visits the Shop regularly but this is not true of the watch business, where he only appears to have a new strap or perhaps to have the watch cleaned. A clever salesman will profit from these visits, even if they are only occasional, to show the client his new range of models.

It is interesting to consider what happens to a watch during ten years of use. The owner thinks himself lucky if during this time he has no need to call on the repaìrer. He seldom follows the sound advice to have his watch over - thinking that such advice is not unbìassed, particularly if an overhaul is re- commended every six months. He gets used to the increasingly irregular performance which often gets gradually worse. The owner of a watch gets used to its appearance., and thus one will see both well-dressed men and women wearing an old and thoroughly nondescript looking watch. They may have seen the latest models in the shop window but have never decided to come in. If they were able to wear a modern watch, they would appreciate how ridiculous their old model looks! It is worth occasionally showing up this difference in your window; take care to see that people enter your shop with pleasure and without any misgivings, and try to create a pleasant atmosphere with the customer feeling that you really want to serve him. Thus the advertising you may do in your own window and through the press will be the more effective. Your success will be great if you can develop a community of interest with your client; bring out the desire to have an accurate watch.

Where can One find a Watchmaker who can make Promises regarding the Accuracy of a Watch?

The answer is simple; there are none, particularly when we are dealing with wrist-watches. An exception to this is when one is dealing with watches kept in one position and at constant temperature. Under thßse circumstances the rate may be predicted.

The Wrist-watch may on the average receive between 7,000 and 40,000 shocks or jars per day its position and temperature are continually changing. The movements of the arm may involve acceleration up to seven times that due to gravity. These external conditions will affect the rate of the watch in a manner which cannot be reproduced in the laboratory. However, the efforts of Watch designers are tending to reduce the sensitivity of watches to these external effects. In the ease of precision wrist- watches it has been found that the rate when worn on the arm lines not differ by more than one to three seconds per day from the rate under static conditions in the observatory.

All watchmakers know that the adjustment of a watch is the result of a complex compromise. According to the quality of the Watch, the rate in the various positions will differ more or less widely. When the amplitude of the balance decreases, the watch will be liable either to gain or lose, and variations of temperature will also have -some effect on the rate. The task of the adjuster is to balance the errors involved, one against the other, so that the nett result is small and the client is satisfied.

Recently attempts have been made to simplify the adjustment of wrist­watches by developing a machine which automatically puts the watch under test through numerous changes of posi- tion, and the watch will then be adjusted under more or less << live >> conditions. This machine has the advantage of showing up certain hidden defects, but it is essential to guard against drawing hasty conclusions from the rates observed. Movements of the arm Vary from man to man and cannot be reprûduced faithfully by any machine. Thus there is no reliable method of making promises to the purchaser regarding the accuracy of his Watch, but one may wonder whether this is sufficient reason for omitting any mention of it.

Why behave as if the Performance of a Watch was a secret?

Since it is impossible to say categorically to the client that such and such a watch will gain or lose so many seconds per day in wear, the Salesman prefers to hold his peace. He wins over his client by many arguments but omits to mention accuracy. The purchaser is thus left in ignorance and may complain of the poor quality of his purchase. He interests himself in the external presentation and wants a good-looking watch for everyday use, and perhaps a non- magnetic movement protected against shocks and enclosed in a watertight case. Nevertheless, he wants something which will tell the exact time. The hidden qualities and defects show up quickly enough and make the purchaser either content or disgruntled.

Tell the purchaser what you know about the rate of his watch. Tell him straight out that it will gain thirty seconds per day lying and lose ten hanging, which, for the price asked, is not a bad performance. Tell him that he must notice how it performs in actual wear, and that according to his observations a correction of rate must be made. The purchaser will appreciate it more if you give him the necessary information and show your desire to correct the regulation of his Watch to Suit his own particular movements, etc. Take care to interest your clients in the question of accuracy, and they will come your Way more often.

The Stability of Rate of a Wrist-watch

A well-made 15-jewelled lever watch should have a very stable rate. A watch of this type in Wear will gain or lose each day approximately the same number of seconds, and will continue to do so for two or three years. The same will be seen to be true if the Watch is run continually in one fixed position, and you thus have a ready means of evaluating the quality of the watch. A poor watch will gain considerably one day, While the next it may even lose; an irregular rate of this kind is the hallmark of a badly adjusted Watch.

Only a decent quality watch has anything approaching a stable rate. The manufacturer should make a strong effort to attain this result and be sure that the rate will remain stable. To achieve that., it is essential in addition to perfection in design and in the quality of the components to have the assembly carried out cleanly and carefully, and for the oil used to be of the best quality obtainable. A stable rate is easily lost, and it would suffice for example, to leave it exposed to the sun in the window to compromise all the efforts of its manufacturer. Do not lay yourself open to this trouble., and the annoying surprises which it can cause. Only watches with a stable performance will satisfy their owners.

The Client can check the Performance of his Watch

Anyone can easily check his watch against time signals., and he will do so if he happens to be interested and that by their use he can improve his watch’s performance. There are therefore three things to recommend to a purchaser who wishes to carry out such a check:

1. Always wind the watch at the same time, preferably in the morning.
2. Use the same time signal each day at the same time.
3. Record the errors of the watch and don’t trust your memory

It is up to you to awaken the client's enthusiasm for a test of this kind. Both he and yourself can derive benefit from it.

Make Use of the available Facilities for Improving the Rate of the Watches you have sold

Two points should be noted; a good watch has a stable rate, and everyone can easily observe any errors.

It is not a sound plan to sell a watch which gains 40 seconds per day, but has a variation of rate of only plus or minus 5 seconds. The owner will note the continual gain., and will be aggravated because he is not getting the best out of his watch. He will not come back to you to correct the rate unless you ask him to do so. Therefore, let everyone know that you are capable of effecting such improvements to rate.

To carry out adjustments, the rate and its variations must be known as they actually occur in wear. When the watch is sold, you should advise the purchaser to observe the rate of his watch for six to ten days. You will thus obtain important information on the performance of the watch and, which is still more important, the client will thus he able to realise that he has made a good purchase. Demonstration of this quality is more important than the excellerice of the watch itself.

By checking the performance of the watch the owner establishes a closer contact with it and also between himself and the watchmaker. It is more advantageous from your point of view to have a purchaser who checks his watch than one who does not. Contact with the actual user is better than any machine for simulating shocks.

Encourage the Owner of the Watch to observe its Rate for six to ten Days

Many people, particularly young people, are interested in technical details. If they are in- different to them, it is up to you to combat this indifference. Make things easy for them and show them the advantages and value of their collaboration. Hand out to those concerned a printed card which they may fill up.

Improve the Rate of your Watch

Result of Trial Observe your watch as follows:

 Observe Your Watch as Follows  Day  Reading of Hands
 1. Wind it at the same hour every day preferably in the morning  1  -20 seconds
 2. Compare the reading of the hands with a time signal at the same time each day.  2  +10 >>
 3. Note the errors each day in the space provided.  If the watch is gaining mark it with a plus sign; a minus sign will signify a loss.  3  +45 >>
 4. If you are not pleased with the performance of your watch come and see me.  I will bring it to time and if that cannot easily be done, I will give it a thorough examination.  4  +1 minute 15 seconds
   5  +1 >> 50 >>
   6  +2 >> 30 >>
   -  -
   -  -
   10  -

There are endless possibilities of making such a trial interesting. Have published in the Press: << Mr. Jones has improved the performance of his watch. He has observed it for ten days and found that it gained 70 Seconds per day. Naw his watch gains only 10 seconds per day. We have been able to correct it, thanks to the in- formation supplied by Mr. Jones. Check the rate of your watch: in our shop, ..., they will tell you how to carry out the necessary test. >>

It would be worth indicating on the card the charge for any correction.

A card filled in by the owner informs you at once as to its rate. The ownerïs observations can be used by you., and should be compiled as in the following table:

Day Indication of Watch  Daily Rate  Variations of Daily Rate
 1  -20s    
 2 -10s  +30s  
 3  +45s  +35s +5s 
 4  +1m 15s  +30s  -5s
 5  +1m 50s  +35s
 6  +2m 30s  +40s  +5s

The column under Daily Rate shows how much the watch has gained or lost since the preceding day. For example, the indication has changed from minus 20 to plus 10 seconde from the first to the second day; the rate will therefore be plus 30 seconds per day. The third column shows the variations of daily rate. That is to say, the differences between the numbers in the second column. For the third day the difference 35-30 = +5 seconds. For the following day the difference is 30 - 35 = -5 seconds.

From your point of view, the most important quantity is the variation nf daily rate. If this is large you are dealing with a bad watch or one which needs cleaning. Perhaps there is a defect, often in the baîance, balance spring, or regulator. Large variations of rate are easy to correct by moving the regulator.

A client who takes the trouble to check the performance of his watch should he treated with tact. He should gain the impression that you wish to be of service to him, and give him this service without thinking first of your profits.

In case of doubt, first try a simple correction with the regulator before recommending that the watch be cleaned, and do not forget that after you have made a correction the client will check his watch for an improvement, as he will have paid for the work done.

A client whose watch you have improved is a client definitely gained. Your standing as a walchrnaker will be recognised and you will enter into closer contact with your clientele; make use of this advantage, which can only be possessed by a watchmaker of standing. You may thus convince the prospective purchaser of the excellence of your products, and in the long run such conviction is more important than sales talk.

It is your Job and not that of the Owner to use the Regulator

In watertight watches this difficulty does not arise; on the other hand, the case may be easy tu open, and there are always those who make out lhat they are watch repairers. On the reverse of the card explain why it is only you who should correct the rate of the watch.

If you have a timing machine (Vibrograf, Chronomatic etc.) this is the time to use it; show how moving the regulator index thick- ness of a hair is sufficient to change the rate of the watch by 20 seconds a day. The timing ma- chine allows the accuracy of the watch to be improved, since it gives an instantaneous indication of the effect of any adjustment. Perhaps a watch is gaining 50 seconds per day; if the timing machine shows 70 seconds gain itl the lying position you can reduce this to 30 seconds gain. Since you can rapidly determine the rate in lhe various positions you will Soon know what possibilities there are of easily improving the performance of the watch.

You, as the Specialist, the trained man, are the only one capable of saying whether merely moving the index is sufficient; you can examine the curb pins to see if they need correction, or whether the movement needs cleaning. It may be that you have to change the pinning of attachment of the balance spring at the collet.

Why is it necessary to improve the Performance of Watches?

To begin with you will see the difficulties which you will encounter. There is a need for accurate watches; take care that the watch is adjusted by a competent watchmaker, for to increase its accuracy is to make obvious your efficiency.

The accuracy of the watch awakens the in- terest of your client; it is the best form of advertisement. The Shop window and the press show what is available, but by improving the performance of watches you will make people more time conscious. The owner of a watch which varies 5 seconds per day will be discon- tented if it suddenly varies 30 seconds; your clients will call on you more often and bring in their watches. They will say that at your shop one can buy the most accurate watches, everyone will know that at your premises they will get good service, and you will not have to go to much trouble to persuade a prospective customer to buy; facts speak for themselves.

It is obviously necessary to guard against exaggeration. There will always be fanatics who expect minor errors of a few seconds per day to he eliminated, in other words who will ask the impossible of you. Point out in this case that a watch is a remarkably small machine which surpasses many others in accuracy, but which is nevertheless susceptible to wear and breakage.

It is a necessity of present day life to know the right time, and if one can trust one’s watch one feels the more certain of oneself, and can therefore get more done.

Tell the client that you are in a position to furnish him with the correct time, and prove that you are as good as your word; he will come and visit you more often.

Watches which perform well are better than any advertisement.

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