It's often bitter experience that teaches us good practice when it comes to the repair or restoration of vintage watches.
The first lesson of all is that not all watchmakers were born equal. As with automobile mechanics, there are those who are organised, professional, honest, love their work, who are competent and fair, and there are those that you wouldnt even have working on a clockwork toy.
On numerous occasions I get asked from people around the world if I know a good watchmaker. I have to say that I know two! That is, I know two local watchmakers who have consistently worked on my collection over the years and have provided an outstanding quality of work and service. I know of a number of others, but I have not had personal experiences with them and so, in effect, I should not be recommending them.
Collector Don Goldstein, like me, and probably every other collector who has had occasion to engage a watchmaker, has learned from experience that your relationship with a watchmaker should be treated as a professional one. In this post he outlines a process of engaging and dealing with watchmakers that may well save you much heartache.
Watchmaker, Tim Mackrain, agrees that there are similarities to be drawn between watchmakers and auto mechanics, but he believes that many customers do not apply the same standards to both.
In this post, he outlines some of the issues that watchmakers confront.
In reviewing both perspectives, one thing becomes clear. In order to have a good relationship with a watchmaker, a collector needs to know his/her way around the movements of the watches they collect. Also, if expectations are to be realistic and misunderstandings avoided, watchmakers and collectors need to have conversations about the specific wear issues likely to crop up in particular calibres being serviced. (For example, don't be surprised if you encounter third wheel pivot wear in 500 series Omega calibres).
Knowledge about the calibres you collect allows both the collector and the watchmaker to have meaningful conversations about repair issues and minimise unrealistic expectations and misunderstandings. This promotes a professional relationship on both sides of the transaction.