If you are a passionate watch enthusiast, you will no doubt understand the importance of having an excellent watchmaker you can depend on. If you are somewhat new to watch collecting, the value of knowing such a skilled technician may not be as apparent yet. But just like a vintage car collector needs a knowledgeable and trustworthy mechanic, a timepiece collector must have an experienced watchmaker he or she can contact when needed.
I have always admired watchmakers. Not only do they have to be properly trained in a trade that is becoming less and less prevalent today, but they also have to be resourceful, organized, detail orientated, precise, and above all else, patient. As with any skilled craft, talent typically grows with hands-on experience. Watchmakers have to learn how to deal with all types of watches, movements, and complications to truly become a master. It is not easy to find a great watchmaker because it is a profession that requires an incredible amount of training and practice.
One of the things I love is visiting my watchmaker to learn more about horology—whether it’s about how a watch works, how to fix a watch, or discovering intricate mechanical details about complex complications like tourbillons, minute repeaters, and perpetual calendars. Oftentimes, I just pull up a chair and watch him work on a watch because seeing it with my own eyes helps me learn and appreciate watchmaking even more.
When I see my watchmaker working and repairing a watch, I see him essentially tackling a highly complex puzzle. He disassembles a mechanical movement into tiny parts—sometimes up to 400 pieces—to clean, lubricate, and reassemble back into its original form. The attention to detail, the precision required, and the quality of work is simply astonishing. Think about this, if a watch operates at a frequency of 18,000 beats per hour, that’s 432,000 beats a day or 157,680,000 a year. Yes, over 157 million mechanical actions in one year in a tiny mechanical marvel we strap onto our wrists.
On the other hand, trusting an incapable watchmaker with a beloved watch can be a costly and upsetting experience, which is something I unfortunately have experienced myself in the past. It is absolutely worth finding the right watchmaker to help you care for your cherished timepiece collection.
There are resources out there that you can take advantage of, such as The American Watchmakers-Clockmakers Institute (AWCI), which has a directory of professional watchmakers and clockmakers you can browse. Among other things, AWCI issues different levels of watchmaking certifications. These certifications include the Certified Watchmaker of the 21st Century (CW21) and the even more involved Certified Master Watchmaker of the 21st Century (CMW21). If a watchmaker has gained one of these ultra stringent certifications, it is normally proudly placed in his or her workshop for all to see.
I met my watchmaker many years ago. We have a lot in common—most notably a love for beautiful watches and complex movements.
My watchmaker’s name is Daniele Del Vecchio, a native of Italy who grew up in the south of Italy where his family owns jewelry stores. Daniele is an Omega certified watchmaker, of which there are only a few in the U.S. What’s more, he has also received training from AWCI. In short, Daniele is a very skilled watchmaker who can tackle just about any type of movement placed on his workbench.
Daniele loves his customers and his watches and he is always happy to help. He’s particularly great at coming up with solutions to repair challenging timepieces. Daniele has gathered a tremendous amount of expertise throughout the years. Aside from repairs, his experience and knowledge also allow him to easily identify watch authenticity and whether or not components are original or custom.
More than repair
Being a good watchmaker is not simply a matter of being able to repair a timepiece, but it requires the ability to polish, re-plate, weld, and if necessary, build vintage watch parts that are no longer available in the market. Daniele also counts on two colleagues—Paul who takes care of quartz watches and polishing, and Adil who handles modern watch repairs—in his workshop.
Between his uplifting nature, Italian accent, and endless espresso, visiting Daniele is always a pleasant experience. He is generous with his time and knowledge and his place is actually a terrific spot to meet other watch enthusiasts, collectors, and dealers. (Daniele Watchmaker is located at 255-1 Mill Street in Greenwich, Connecticut)
Having a good watchmaker in your corner is priceless when it comes to the upkeep of your watches. After all, most mechanical watches promise to last several lifetimes—but that can only happen when the right person is tasked to take care of the mechanical maintenance.