What's Ticking

13 Questions with the No B.S. Watchmaker

Published on Feb 13, 2018

Anthony, who is also known as the ‘No Bullshit Watchmaker,’ is a Swiss, Rolex, Breitling, Omega, and Jaeger Le-Coultre trained Horologist. He aims to make watchmaking fun to learn and simple to understand and is of the firm belief that less is more.

1. How long have you been a watchmaker?

I’ve been in watchmaking for over 20 years at this point. As a professional watchmaker, however, it’s been a little over 15 years. Of course, there were other jobs and careers I’ve gone into throughout my watchmaking journey, so there were breaks here and there.

2. For those who may be interested in watchmaking, can you give some backstory about your education and apprenticing?

I grew up in watchmaking. My first dose of watchmaking was at the ripe age of 12. I apprenticed under an extremely intelligent and qualified watchmaker. I woke up at 5:30 AM every day and worked on watches in all of my free time. Needless to say, it was an extremely intensive apprenticeship. I’m fortunate to have worked on so many different calibers ranging from cheap to highly complex complications. I was taught concepts, philosophies, and techniques in such a streamlined approach that I was doing things in my first year in watchmaking that other watchmakers would’ve been doing in their 6th year on the job.

After I got extremely proficient, I started working professionally. It was in the professional work environment that I was introduced to the industry’s way of learning. I attended training under Jaeger-LeCoultre, Rolex, Omega, and Breitling just to name a few. I was passing industry exams and started racking up certifications. I’ve approached traditional schooling just to brush up on certain aspects that weren’t covered in my apprenticeship. You start to realize the pros and cons of both an apprenticeship and the traditional schooling route.

Perfect example: I learned in one day as an apprentice what took the traditional schooling route 5 days to teach. I learned industry standards that were not covered in an apprenticeship because I was learning from my mentor’s own standards. I picked up some bad habits (that I had to relearn from scratch) from him that I wouldn’t have learned if I went the traditional school route.

3. You mention that you started watchmaking at the age of 12, what fascinated you about watchmaking at such a young age?

Hah! You’re completely right that I started watchmaking at the age of 12. To be frank, I was not fascinated about watchmaking. I was forced into watchmaking by my parents. They saw watchmaking as a great career choice to fall back on. It was never supposed to be my primary job. They were smart in the sense that they saw the job security and the lack of watchmakers in the world. They knew that watchmakers were not replaceable. They knew the industry couldn’t randomly find a watchmaker down the block. Having said all that, they forced me into a watchmaking apprenticeship. I hated my teacher at the time. I quit many times. Two hands couldn’t count how many times I’ve quit (completely serious). I legitimately hated every single second of it. I’ve come full circle now though. As I got older, I understood why my parents did what they did. I appreciate what watchmaking has given me in life.

4. You mention in the book that watchmaking is typically a second or third profession; did you have a job before watchmaking?

Yes, I did! Even though I learned watchmaking as a fall back job, I really loved exercising and physical therapy growing up. Physical therapist was my first career choice. I went to school for physical therapy. I even worked in the field and had a growing number of clients. I was working full time as a watchmaker while going to school full-time. I paid off my tuition just from watchmaking alone. It turns out though that physical therapy isn’t that lucrative unless you own your own clinic. Watchmaking is exponentially better in that regard.

5. What is your favorite movement to work on?

I like working on Jaeger-LeCoultre and Patek Philippe movements at this point. It’s subtle and fun to work on. Rolexes are great for the sturdy construction, but it’s monotonous- in the sense that it’s the same things over and over.

6. Do you have a least favorite movement to service?

Cheap movements. The worst type of services are the cheap watches. Let’s just say I can service a Rolex faster than I can service an Invicta. With quality movements, you can already rule out any errors in terms of the construction. With cheap movements, you have no idea if it’s your fault or if it’s the cheap construction of it.

7. Has servicing or working with any particular brand turned you off from owning one of their watches?

Yes. I don’t want to turn this into a bashing session so I’ll just name one. I remember opening up a $20K+ Franck Muller for a battery change only to find a Ronda movement in there. There’s nothing wrong with Ronda movements but at that price point for a watch? Seriously? You just paid over 20 grand for the name of the watch. Not a good choice.

8. What is one of the biggest misconceptions about watchmaking?

Yikes… There’s too many to cover! Here’s one that’s exclusively for you guys. In the past few months alone, I spoke with multiple clients who thought there were a great deal of watchmakers in the world because of the increasing number of micro brands entering the industry. Currently, watch customers think watchmakers are on the uprise- we’re actually not.

As of late a lot of microbrands and companies have come onto the watch scene. This has created an influx of more watch companies and watches being produced. But guess what? The number of watchmakers in the world hasn’t changed. We’re actually declining. A great deal of watchmakers die off or retire each year meanwhile only have a handful are coming on board.

Fun fact: A growing number of graduates from watchmaking schools are even LEAVING the field once they start working in the industry. The industry isn’t even telling you this though. This further skews the number of actual watchmakers entering the industry.

So let’s brings things back into perspective. There’s a growing number of watch companies coming onto the scene, a growing number of watches being produced ( over millions are sold each year- someone’s gotta service all of those watches), and a declining number of watchmakers in the industry. See an issue yet?

9. What are your feelings on watch modding?

I’m all for it. Just don’t attempt to do anything that you’re not comfortable with. You have no idea how many customers have come in because they attempted to change out certain components themselves. YouTube DIY projects are not your friend.

10. In 100+ No BS Watch Tips, you provide a list “31 basic watchmaking tools;” what tools would you recommend your average watch enthusiast to have?

Your average watch enthusiast will want to change their own straps and adjust links. A quality screwdriver set and springbar tool is their best friend.

11. What was your first watch?

My first watch was a Casio Calculator watch. Let’s just say I passed almost all my maths class with that bad boy.

12. What’s your favorite complication in a watch?

I’ve had the wonderful privilege of working on an astronomical (literal and metaphorical) watch. It essentially told you the rotations of the solar system on your wrist. It was such a splendid experience.

13. What was the last watch you purchased or received?

Jaeger-LeCoultre Ultrathin. Still one of the coolest watches in my collection.

Anthony is the author of the book 100+ No BS Watch Tips for Watch Enthusiasts & Salespeople. It’s an uncommon guide to watches, watchmaking & the watch industry. This is seriously not your average watch book. Watchmaking is complicated…but it doesn’t have to be boring. Whether you’re a watch enthusiast, watch salesperson, aspiring watchmaker, or just looking to get into the watch industry, this book is for you.

Thanks, Anthony for sitting down with the Urban Gentry crew and answering our questions! Check out Anthony’s book 100+ No BS Watch Tips for Watch Enthusiasts & Salespeople on Amazon. For more content from Anthony, check out his Instagram @nobswatchmaker .

Author Bryan Braddy
IG: @SirWatchesRaleigh
Training consultant by day, horophile by night; Bryan has been obsessing over watches since he was gifted his first watch back when he was a child. Bryan’s passion for watches is fueled by the stories told through the battle scars in a case and the faded aluminum of a bezel.