Y2 16.07.20 Watchmaking in Coventry

Did you know that Coventry was famous for making watches? We are going to make our own clock face, but before we do, read on to find out all about the history of watchmaking in Coventry.

The first watch and clock maker in Coventry was Samuel Watson, who was sheriff of Coventry in the 1680s. He was one of the most famous clockmakers in England and made clocks for King Charles II and Sir Isaac Newton.

In 1727, a watchmaker names George Porter became mayor of Coventry. Growth of this skilled industry grew rapidly. Watchmakers, such as Bonniksen, worked from home in their workshops and the upstairs back of the house, known as ‘top shops’. Rotherhams in Spon Street were known for their highly skilled craftsmen.

The main period of watchmaking in Coventry was from the 1740s up to about 1920. During this period Coventry was one of the main centres of watchmaking in England and several thousand people were employed in the industry.

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  1. information about watchmakers
    A watchmaker is an artisan who makes and repairs watches. Since a majority of watches are now factory-made, most modern watchmakers only repair watches. However, originally they were master craftsmen who built watches, including all their parts, by hand.
    Most practising professional watchmakers service current or recent production watches. They seldom fabricate replacement parts. Instead, they obtain and fit factory spare parts applicable to the watch brand being serviced. The majority of modern watchmakers, particularly in Switzerland and other countries in Europe, work directly for the watchmaking industry and may have completed a formal watchmaking degree at a technical school.[citation needed] They also receive in-house “brand” training at the factory or service centre where they are employed. However, some factory service centres have an approach that allows them to use ‘non-watchmakers’ (called “opérateurs”) who perform only one aspect of the repair process. These highly skilled workers do not have a watchmaking degree or certificate, but are specifically trained ‘in-house’ as technicians to service a small number of components of the watch is a true ‘assembly-line’ fashion, (e.g., one type of worker will dismantle the watch movement from the case, another will polish the case and bracelet, another will install the dial and hands, etc.). If genuine watchmakers are employed in such environments, they are usually employed to service the watch movement.

    Due to factory/genuine spare parts restrictions, an increasing minority of watchmakers in the US are ‘independent,’ meaning that they choose not to work directly for industry or at a factory service centre. One major Swiss watch brand – Rolex – now pre-qualifies independent watchmakers before they provide them with spare parts. This qualification may include, but is not limited to, holding a modern training certificate from one of several reputable schools; having a workshop environment that meets Rolex’s standards for cleanliness; using modern equipment, and being a member of the American Watchmakers-Clockmakers Institute. The Omega brand has the same approach. However, the vast majority of modern Swiss brands do not sell parts to independent watchmakers, irrespective of the watchmaker’s expertise, training or credentials. This industry policy is thought to enable Swiss manufacturers to maintain tighter quality control of the after-sales service for its watch brands, produce high margins on after-sales services (two to four times what an independent watchmaker would ask), and to lower second-hand watchmaking parts on the used and fake market.

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