Planning to open a Watch Shop

Hello Everyone

Looking for the all of you sages insight. Planning to open a watch
business accessible to public, what are the pitfalls of the watch
business itself and the dealing with public?

Any word would be greatly appreciated.


Anil, I have been operating a shop open to the public for 20 yrs this
December, and our specialty is watch repair. We also do a ton of
jewelry repair and custom pieces , but we are known over a pretty
large area for watch repair. Since watch repairmen are in a pretty
scarce supply nowadays, once word gets around that you can handle
most of the everyday demands of modern quartz watches, you will be
inundated with customers. Back when our state still required
liscencing of watchmakers, we were required to acquire so many hours
of continuing education a yr. So the AWI would sponsor seminars and
meetings where we could get these classes. What I noticed at these
meetings, is that most of the older watchmakers were struggling
trying to make money working on the older mechanical watches. Me, as
the youngest guy in the room was mostly grounded in quartz, and I was
already being overrun daily because I had taken the time to search
out the parts sources for material other than batteries and bands.
Metro areas may be better on mechanical repair demand but quartz
repair is definitly profitable everywhere. Be prepared to sell repair
agressively. A historical trend that I have noticed is that when the
economy is good, we are busy, but our percentage of sales of watches,
and finished jewelry is higher, but when the economy is slow, we are
dramatically busier with repair work. Also dont forget the emotional
factor of repair. When Junior gets Grandpas watch at the funeral, he
doesnt care that it was only $40 brand new and its going to take $40
to repair- he will spend it because he wants Grandpas watch to run.
Also, if you plan on going head to head selling quartz watches, with
the mass merchandisers, forget it- you will struggle. The only brands
that I sell are brand names that the big guys don’t carry. If you
would like to talk further, contact me offline at

Ed in Kokomo

....what are the pitfallss of the watch business it self and the
dealing with the public? 

i have done watch repairs for the lasts 12 years and the most common
pitfall is…cheaper to replace watch than repair…on the average
bulvoa, seiko and the like…the higher end watches rolex, tag
hauer and that class of time pieces are what i usually take in for
repair…the lesser know n brands are usually removing/adding
links, batteries,crystals and bands…i contract out the watch
department, and i find it a good return on investment…ie: i just
fill out envelope and give to watch maker, make calls for

my subcontractor works hard and does 4 or 5 other stores…he is
very well versed in high end watches and says that is what puts food
on his table…

lisa mc

Are you crazy, man? We have a retail jewelry store and used to carry
Rolex, Baume and Mercier, Tag huerer, Movado etc. The watch busines
became such a hassle dealing with customes who sapped you for the
info but when it came time to purchase they all expected a discount,
30%, and would buy elsewhere to save a couple of bucks. And that was
a few years ago, before the internet was even a player. Im sure its
even worse now, no sales tax to pay (already you are 4-8% too

Not to even mention trying to service a watch within a reasonable
lenght of time. from what i understand rolex takes 8-12 weeks for an
overhaul . That was another bone of contention with customers… “why
should i pay $400 or more for an overhaul its an expnsive watch it
shouldn’t need any repair” (This is the part where you have to tell
them it will take 12 weeks and hope the watch company fixed it right
the first time). Like i said, we stopped carrying watches approx 8
years ago after much discussion. At first we thought we might loose
alot of business but can count on one hand how many times it would
have come in handy. The other times i just give them the number of a
watch dealer out of state. This way when the watch needs repair, and
the all do, I will have no problem charging the $400 for the
overhaul. Good luck if you still decide to open your store.

I’d suggest building a clientele first by working out of your
basement so that you’d have word of mouth advertising. It’s no doubt
that you’ll have a lot of customers come see you. The dubious part
is how much money they will leave in your store. You’ll have to find
a low rent location, because there are a whole lot more Seiko’s and
Timex needing batteries than Rolex to overhaul for big $$. In my
jewelry store, we stopped taking watches in about 2 years ago when I
came to the conclusion that the repairs which haven’t been picked
up, washed all of the profit from the ones which had been picked up
and paid for. I then took a look at how many times I was sending the
same watch back and forth… and the irate customers. Now, we’re the
good guys, " Hey guess what Mrs. Jones?! You get a new watch! Go to
Wal Mart. You’ve had this nasty crusty for 20 years!"

On super rare occasions, I’ll take in a high grade watch or a quartz
retrofit for a client, but definitely no overhauls. Good luck with
your decision.

-Stanley Bright

I wasn’t planning to comment on this, but I have to agree with
Ajbinfo (?) with his analysis of the watch business. We opened a
retail jewelry store twenty-six years ago, and saw the watch business
decline steadily each of those, both sales and repairs. Being a
small-town store, and wanting to offer a full-service type of
business, I still carry a small selection of Seiko and Pulsar, but
would have dropped watches completely years ago if I could.

Today it’s almost impossible to sell a $200 Seiko for list price,
and it’s just a keystone item as is. At 30% off retail, with
allowance for shipping and service costs, you are barely breaking
even on every watch you sell. No matter what you may think, you can’t
make up for it by volume sales!

We had a fairly young (by my standards) watch repairman up until
about six years ago, and I watched him struggle to earn $10,000 a
year. He finally gave it up and doesn’t miss the business at all. I
will grant you he tried to do mostly mechanical repairs and resisted
quartz, but he maintains that the watch companies are the ones that
put repair people out of business by refusing to market the parts
needed to do their job. What few repairs we handle today are sent to
the factory service centers, and the work is over-priced and poorly

I believe that 95% of today’s watch customers are looking for a
throw-away piece and are price-driven more than any other product
market out there. All the watch companies insist on a major
investment to “open” with their line, as they know that you probably
won’t be there long enough to do any volume, and they need to get all
they can right up front. I sincerely wish you all the luck in the
world, as I believe you will need it.

Jon Michael Fuja

I want to thank one and all. It has been an unanimous opinion
against business in watches. Thank you all for an invaluable insight
and thoughts. Anil