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Making Time With the Watchmakers 257

Posted by Zonk
from the temple-fugate-would-be-proud dept.
PreacherTom writes "In the age of watches that have more computational power than Apollo 11's computer, one would think that the watchmaker has gone the way of the cobbler, the blacksmith and the Dodo. Quite the contrary. With the rise in interest for mechanical watches (especially luxury models), Rolex has sponsored a new school to train horologists in the arcane art. From the article: 'We were facing a situation today where we needed to foster a new generation of watchmakers,' says Charles Berthiaume, the senior vice-president for technical operations at Rolex and the Technicum's president 'Thirty to 40 years ago, there was a watchmaker at every jewelry store. That's not the case today,' he notes. Included are some remarkable examples of their training, dedication, and intricate patience as they take technology in an entirely different direction."
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Making Time With the Watchmakers

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 22, 2006 @09:02PM (#17344744)
    to watch.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 22, 2006 @09:03PM (#17344750)
    PreacherTom [google.com] is an astroturfer for BusinessWeek magazine. Look at the URL in this recent Slashdot story [slashdot.org] and notice the campaign_id string. Now look at his user page [slashdot.org]. Scroll down to the submissions section. Notice how almost every one is a link to a BusinessWeek.com article containing the campaign_id string. Now look at the search results [google.com] for "campaign_id preachertom". He's been pulling this shit on slashdot, digg, Fark, MetaFilter, and who knows where else. Check out this MetaTalk thread [metafilter.com] for the initial discovery.

    Spread the word, perhaps?
    • by chucken (750893) on Friday December 22, 2006 @09:34PM (#17344966)
      With the large amounts of slashdot readers prepared to do moderation and meta-moderation etc., could some shill-detection scanning of submitted articles be in order? (I'm thinking by hand, rather than automated). It's usually not hard to spot affiliate IDs in the hyperlinks, for example.
      • by jd (1658) <.imipak. .at. .yahoo.com.> on Friday December 22, 2006 @11:53PM (#17345796) Homepage Journal
        The new firehose section on Slashdot might help there. I, for one, won't e-mail an objection merely because of a business association (alleged or proven) but if others think it's a genuine problem then I would encourage them to object on that basis. However, I can say that I'm going to pay some attention to the stories listed for articles where I've good reason to believe the story is bogus, FUD, etc. What I hope is that Slashdot does NOT go down the path of entirely user-selecting, as I actually think the editors here do a far better job of picking the really meaty stuff and other sites that have tried that approach are plagued by story trolls. Slashdot isn't perfect, but there's a reason it has such an intense following AND has earned the respect and envy of even the "traditional" press at times.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 22, 2006 @09:42PM (#17345022)
      Considering they still keep accepting stories from Roland Piquepaille [slashdot.org], another known shill, it's doubtful the editors will do anything about this guy.

    • by rk (6314) *

      What's screwed up about this is that it's actually an interesting article, but it's not enough for actual USERS to find what's interesting. They've got to lead us to it.

      Screw you, BusinessWeek, and screw you, PreacherTom.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Planesdragon (210349)
      PreacherTom is an astroturfer for BusinessWeek magazine

      No, not really.

      He's what in the "old media" world we would call a "crier." He directs traffic to a given site, by saying how interesting it is. The fact that a given article actually is interesting should not be based in any way on who submits it -- be it a bored geek or a profit-seeking crier.

      • Re: (Score:2, Redundant)

        by Rob the Bold (788862)

        "PreacherTom is an astroturfer for BusinessWeek magazine"

        No, not really.

        He's what in the "old media" world we would call a "crier." He directs traffic to a given site, by saying how interesting it is. The fact that a given article actually is interesting should not be based in any way on who submits it -- be it a bored geek or a profit-seeking crier.

        So are you saying "No, not really: there is no such thing as astroturfing" or "No, not really: I know PreacherTom, and he's neither a paid shill or a figm

        • So are you saying "No, not really: there is no such thing as astroturfing" or "No, not really: I know PreacherTom, and he's neither a paid shill or a figment of the imagination of a Business Week marketeer"? Because if he has a financial/business interest in the story he's submitting, that should be disclosed. As you say, an interesting story is still interesting even if hyped by a "crier", disclosure notwithstanding, right?

          Whatever you want to call it it is very different than what is popularly recognize

    • PreacherTom is an astroturfer for BusinessWeek magazine.

      BusinessWeak magazine? Come on, it is tabloid business journalism at its lamest; entertaining yes, informative sometimes, but rarely if you want in depth information about the topics it purports to cover. I have an MBA and while I could cite some monthly business periodicals in the papers I wrote for classes, Businessweek was rarely one of them.

      The WSJ is much better, more accurate, and more insightful and has far more interesting articles in an
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by kjart (941720)

      PreacherTom [google.com] is an astroturfer for BusinessWeek magazine.

      So...he links to BusinessWeek and presumably makes some money doing so. This is somehow morally reprehensible? I really don't care where the stories come from, as long as they are interesting (i.e. News for nerds, stuff that matters). I have no problems if he manages to eke out of living submitting stories from BuisnessWeek, just like I have no problems with Slashdot making money from this website.

      Now, if stories submitted by this guy

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Banner (17158)
      Maybe he just reads Business Week a lot and finds their articles interesting and so he comments on them in these forums. There are -a lot- of people who really only read one news source and then spread what they see there all over the place.

      And if he is working for Business week and being paid to do this, so what? Slashdot has editors and -they- are the filter/gate through which all articles must pass. If they don't approve it, it doesn't get posted. This isn't a site like digg where just anyone can post an
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      I think the real question is, do (and should) we care? It's not like PreacherTom can force /. to post his submissions, and I actually found this article interesting (hence why I clicked the comments section to discuss). As far as I can tell, there isn't a problem unless we are being lied to (which we aren't) or the quality of the submissions has gone down (Your Mileage May Vary). Now, if /. received money for the stories, then I could see a problem. Double so if they didn't mention they received money t
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 22, 2006 @09:05PM (#17344752)
    This guy is steering you to BusinessWeek magazine and has been doing so for quite a while.
  • by Demona (7994) on Friday December 22, 2006 @09:05PM (#17344758) Homepage
    "as they take technology in an entirely different direction."

    Like "reliability"? Count me in!

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward
      I've had my Rolex (a "cheap" S. S. Oyster day/date) for over thirty years and it's never missed a beat. I can get better time from a five dollar Casio but my world doesn't run on the hundredth of a second.

      I refute your vibrating crystals.
      • No shit. My SS Patek Nautilus has been a workhorse for 25+ years as well. Plus it's not readily recognized as a neat watch by just anyone except those who appreciate a fine timepiece; sort of like a SS Rolex - most people gravitate to the flashy gold Presidents. Me, I like understated; even if a $5 digital keeps better time.
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by networkBoy (774728)
          I have a fake that likely was made by a master craftsman (or out of heisted rolex parts). My jewler friend (I fix his PCs, he takes care of the jewlery :) said the only reason he knew it was a fake is that he knows I'm too cheap to spend over $100 for something I don't wear except when required as an accessory. I hate watches, bracelets, cufflinks (as that implies cuffs), or anything else around my wrist. Drives me nuts!
          -nB

          Jewler was wrong, I paid $125 for it ;-)
          -nB
    • "as they take technology in an entirely different direction."

      Like "reliability"? Count me in!
      Try "backwards".
    • by jd (1658)
      I would truly love it if someone could produce a Swiss timepiece that could operate in the gigahertz range, because I have absolutely no friggin' doubt it would be vastly more accurate than the normal clock chips in PCs. It would make life hell for the overclockers, though.
    • by timeOday (582209)
      If you want reliability got to WalMart and get a Casio G-Shock.

      To stand out from the crowds, you have to do something other people won't do, something dumb, like pierce your tongue or pay thousands for a hand-made wristwatch.

  • Yeah but.. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by yamamushi (903955)
    How much does the watchmaking business pay nowadays?
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by yamamushi (903955)
      Nevermind, I RTFA and from the site "Starting salaries range from $45,000 to $55,000 a year."
      • Does that include a deep discount on the watches? It'd suck if you couldn't afford to buy the watches you make.
        • by NotQuiteReal (608241) on Saturday December 23, 2006 @01:01AM (#17346116) Journal
          It'd suck if you couldn't afford to buy the watches you make.

          Why? I'd much rather work on nice stuff, even if I personally couldn't afford it, rather than work with cheap stuff.

          Think about it, would you rather work in a shop turning out finely crafted watches you couldn't afford, or be on an assembly line cranking out plastic watches for Wal-Mart buyers?

          I regularly write software that I can't afford, but I enjoy it, and it's a nice living.

          What would really suck is working to create a product that you need but can't afford.

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            Yeah, but these are watches, not an accounting package. It's nice, when people work on things meant for private use (like watches, cars, and suits), for them to be able to buy and use those same things. It's also good advertising - a nice rolex, even the simpler ones, should start more than a couple conversations.
    • Re:Yeah but.. (Score:4, Informative)

      by MajorDick (735308) on Friday December 22, 2006 @09:42PM (#17345018)
      A WATCHMaker , who can from nothing but raw materials completley fabricate a watch brings about 250,000 a year to start....... A repair man makes the 40-50 k range.
  • Sylar (Score:4, Funny)

    by macadamia_harold (947445) on Friday December 22, 2006 @09:12PM (#17344804) Homepage
    'We were facing a situation today where we needed to foster a new generation of watchmakers,' says Charles Berthiaume, the senior vice-president for technical operations at Rolex

    Well, just make sure they don't develop telekinesis and go on a power-hungry killing spree.
  • Seems appropriate (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 22, 2006 @09:12PM (#17344806)
    "The release of atom power has changed everything except our way of thinking...the solution to this problem lies in the heart of mankind. If only I had known, I should have become a watchmaker."
    - Albert Einstein
  • Swiss watches, especially luxury ones are on the rise. 2005 it was a 10 billion dollar per year industry for the Swiss. It is expected to exceed 23 billion (with a B) in 2006.

    WSJ article at http://online.wsj.com/article/SB116674321288757160 .html [wsj.com]

    Swiss Watches Strike Export Record
    Surging Demand for Luxury Lines Has Makers
    Like Richemont Thinking About Capacity
    By MARTIN GELNAR
    December 22, 2006; Page B2

    ZURICH -- Swiss watch exports hit a record in November, suggesting that big watchmakers such as Swatch Group
    • ...cheap knock-offs of the luxury are on the rise too.
      With extremely aggressive marketing.
      Unfortunately.

      I wonder, couldn't Rolex sue for trademark infringement or damaging brand reputation or something? These spammers make me loathe the name.
      • by green1 (322787)
        leaving alone the futility of trying to sue a spammer, they can't sue for damaging the brand reputation as long as the spammer doesn't pretend that he is selling genuine rolex, as long as they tell you it's a replica up front (and the actual product doesn't claim to be a rolex either) then they're covered from that stand point... unfortunately.
  • by Matt Perry (793115) <perry.matt54@yah3.14159oo.com minus pi> on Friday December 22, 2006 @09:33PM (#17344958)
    With the rise in interest for mechanical watches...
    Do people still wear watches? I gave up watches long ago because it seems I'm surrounded by devices that tell time: cars, microwaves, computers, mobile phones, MP3 players, PDAs. Even my motorcycle has a clock on the instrument panel. Do Slashdotters still wear watches? If so, I'd be curious as to why.
    • by Vo0k (760020) on Friday December 22, 2006 @09:43PM (#17345028) Journal
      I do. I began recently, after being watch-hostile for over 25 years. I was one and at first wore it because it was a gift, with intention to get rid of it ASAP, but I found out that it's good, comfortable, precise and doesn't fail like the $3 watches I kept having bad experiences with ('fix it for me please!') and I found it WAY more comfortable to peek at my wrist than to dig in my pocket for the phone or bend over the computer to see the system tray, or peer into dark dashboard of the car, or turn back to see the clock on the wall behind and so on. A wrist-watch is really more comfortable - under one condition, that is its quality is sufficient that it doesn't become a nuisance.

      Now I'm pondering some 'integration' again - pick a watch with some other handy functionalities. Any suggestions?
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Quila (201335)

        Now I'm pondering some 'integration' again - pick a watch with some other handy functionalities. Any suggestions?

        You don't have to go electronic to get extra features. In mechanical watches, these are called "complications." Just look for a watch with multiple complications, such as stop watch, day, date, week, month, year, moon phases, perpetual calendar, etc.

        But be warned, when you get a quality watch with more than a few complications, you will be paying major money. The Patek Philippe Calibre 89 has 33

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward
        My suggestion? Don't. A good watch should tell time, and that's it. Anything else just means it's not going to do its main job as well as it could.

        My watch of choice is a quartz plastic Timex, with a nylon band. It's darn near indestructible (esp. with the nylon, rather than crappy leather or uncomfortable metal bands), pretty damn cheap, yet it has a huge face with analog hands. The only other thing I'd accept on a watch is a calendar, which I still need to fiddle with every other month, and only tole
    • by jfengel (409917) on Friday December 22, 2006 @09:55PM (#17345110) Homepage Journal
      Slashdotters may not, but watches are one of the only forms of jewelry allowed for upper-class and upper-middle-class men. Necklaces and earrings are still considered gaudy, and rings are restricted to a wedding band and perhaps a class ring/military ring.

      The sorts of guys who wear suits as fashion statements are very likely to wear a watch as well. It's not so much about knowing what time it is as about wearing something pretty (and expensive) on your wrist. Your tie and your watch are the most expressive things you're allowed to wear.

      Hey, I don't make the rules. I just talk about 'em. Me, I stopped wearing a watch years before I acquired a cell phone, and I don't wear any jewelry at all.
    • I only wear mine to meetings. Sometimes you're not facing the clock (and have cell phone off, and in a pocket). Also hooking at the watch hints that folks should start wrapping up.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by NeutronCowboy (896098)
      I never understand why people supplant watches with phones or pdas. My watch needs to have its battery changed once every two years, and is water proof to 100m. Meaning I put it on, and for the next two years, I don't have to worry about it. I don't lose it, I don't forget it, it doesn't run out of juice and is always accurate. It's got a stopwatch to boot, so I can use it to time cooking, running, swimming and sundry other things. Lastly, it's easy access. I flick my wrist, and know the time. There's no di
      • by Brummund (447393)
        If I do need to know what the time is, I can be 100% sure that the cell phone is around. If the cell phone isn't around, I don't need to know what time it is.
    • by Blkdeath (530393)

      Do people still wear watches?

      A short while ago I found out watches are more than utilitarian once I actually got a good one. Since I started wearing my Tissot, I couldn't conceive of wearing a Timex again. It's comfortable and I genuinely enjoy wearing it.

      Moreover, I'd like to echo a point I saw in another response; it's a PITA to look for a clock, dig for a cell phone and wake it up, or check the computer monitor. It's just convenient to have the time on my wrist.

    • by Dunbal (464142)
      Do Slashdotters still wear watches? If so, I'd be curious as to why.

            Yes, because it's handy when you have to take a pulse, among other things. Especially on a house call. I guess I could always slap my pulse oximeter on the patients' fingers and get their pulse THAT way, but I'm just old fashioned. Plus there are other things (dysrythmias, respiratory rate etc) a watch is useful for.
      • by b0s0z0ku (752509)
        Especially on a house call.


        Since when do doctors still do house calls?


        -b.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Dunbal (464142)
          Since when do doctors still do house calls?

                _I_ do. I'm not in the US though. Price of a house call, about $30 ;)
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by codeviking (685537)
      I wear a Waltham pocket watch made in 1908. My dad is a pocket watch collector/repair hobbyist. He can tear a pocket watch completely apart and rebuild them. It's incredible how tiny many of the parts are. A pocket watch is a work of art, and it's neat to have a watch that's nearly 100 years old in your pocket, and that runs incredibly well.
      • Bravo and likewise. My day-to-day watch is a 17J 1911 Hamilton pocket watch - runs like a dream. I have a couple of other that I've been meaning to fix up and tune, but just haven't had the time yet. It's really true that "they don't make them like that anymore." I love to show people the beautiful craftsmanship of the gearings, etc.
    • Do Slashdotters still wear watches?

      I don't know about all Slashdotters, but I sure do. It's just easier, as others have pointed out, to simply look at your wrist to check the time instead of trying to find your cell phone.

      There's also an appeal in having a piece of technology that's functional, isn't prone to errors, and works using age old technology.

      In the last decade or so, I've actually taken to collecting watches. Next to computers and stereo equipment, it's my biggest expensive hobby. I have a bea
    • I always wear my watch when I leave the house, but that's mostly because my watch doubles as a USB flash drive.

      For the win!
  • by pair-a-noyd (594371) on Friday December 22, 2006 @09:39PM (#17344994)
    there was a watch repair booth at the grocery store and an old man (as I remember him) sat there all day with his loupe repairing watches. My mom would drop me at his booth and I would just stand there, fascinated.
    I thought that was so freaking cool, to work on such tiny things like watches.
    I had a Mickey Mouse watch that broke and I got to watch him repair it.

    I was inspired by him (and other repairmen) to take stuff apart and see "what makes it tick"..
    Another thing that was common when I was a kid, there were handymen repair shops where you took just about anything that was broken and the nice man would fix it. Toasters, vacuum cleaners, TV's, radios, whatever.

    That's what I wanted to do when I grew up, be a handyman, to just fix broken stuff.
    Now I'm older, have arthritis in my hands, my eyes aren't so good anymore, there's just no way I could do this sort of work anymore. That sucks because that's what I love to do more than anything, fix things, work on stuff..

    My favorite TV show is "How it's Made" [discovery.com]
    • by Anonymous Coward
      That's what I wanted to do when I grew up, be a handyman, to just fix broken stuff. (...) that's what I love to do more than anything, fix things, work on stuff..

      This gets rather personal, so I'm ACing it: Be glad that you didn't. My dad worked for IBM for 40+ years. He repaired computers (and before that, typewriters). He started back when you would measure radio tubes for defective bits and replace them, all through the way to replacing defective chips on IC cards.

      Today, nobody does that. You're a glorifi
      • While much of what you say is true, there are many situations where "scrap it, buy a new one" is not an option. There may not be any "new ones", since the originals were a limited production run and custom designed for a specific task.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Dun Malg (230075)

        Many times, even if you found an expert of the subject, it's just not worth it or he'll conclude "scrap it, buy a new one". Sorry to rain on your parade but it's just not as glorious as it sounds.

        There are still a few places where there's room for mechanical craftsmanship. High end Swiss watch repair, obviously. Me, I've been a locksmith for the last 15 years (except for those 2 years when my reserve unit got dragged off to Afghanistan, but that's another story), and I gotta say, the more things change, the more they stay the same. Sure, there's all kinds of fancy electronic stuff now, but the majority of it comes down to working with the same kind of mechanical designs they've been making since Li

    • In the pictures, you can see a watch that a student made after three years of studying. It looks insanely complicated. Really amazing. I'd love to see the insides of a really complex watch.
      • well, there's a number of forums online, but the most common place to see pics of watch movements is on ebay - many sellers will remove the back of the watch to show the movement...also search for 'skeleton' in watches for transparent cases - watch ppl were into case mods long before the LAN party crowd ;-)
  • Almost a watchmaker (Score:5, Interesting)

    by MajorDick (735308) on Friday December 22, 2006 @09:39PM (#17344996)
    I am fairly young (35) when I was growing up my Grandfater (a watchmaker by training) a boilerwelder by trade (it paid MUCH better) taught me how to clean and repair a watch from a young age.

    When I was 15 I lived with him to help on the farm since my Great Grandmother moved in with him. I asked for him to take me as an apprectice as a watchmaker (hey I lived there why not and I was good with guns, clocks, etc) besides my bedrrom was the "Watch Room"

    He said he wouldnt mind at all and thought I could make short work of it but he warned me he saw no future in it, as all the watches were going electronic and I could probably never make a living at it.

    Investing 8 hrs a day for 2+ years and not having it be a viable profession made my mind up , I decided not to

    Last year I was in L.A. I REAL WatchMAKER (not watch repair man, hack, etc, but WATCH MAKER, who can from nothing but raw metal make a watch from scratch command UPWARDS of 250,000 a Year.

    DOH ! I have my Grandfather last watch he wore every day, a Seiko, he loved it, it never needed cleaned, and kept perfect time.

    The article is about as dead on as it gets......I wish I wish I wish......
    • by Boronx (228853)
      I bet there's blacksmiths around that make a good living, and it's even possible to earn a buck or two driving horse and buggy.
  • by Quila (201335) on Friday December 22, 2006 @09:44PM (#17345034)
    I have some very nice mechanical and quartz Swiss watches. I used to be able to go by a local master watchmaker to have them serviced or fixed. Then he retired and there was literally nobody else around to do it. Now I'm supposed to ship everything back to the manufacturer. Nobody in town will even replace the batteries on the quartz ones.
  • I'm not interested in watch making as a profession--I've been thinking of getting into it as a hobby. I've surfed around and looked at some of the tools you need--little lathes and other specialized tools that are hard to find because it's a "dying" art. That's what makes me find it interesting--it's technology, but because it doesn't require a multi-million dollar fabrication facility, it's potentially accessable to a hobbiest. Also, time pieces can be works of art, not just tech. It's funny, I don't e

    • by Dunbal (464142) on Friday December 22, 2006 @10:03PM (#17345178)
      but the idea of having a miniature machine-shop in my apartment appeals to me on some level.

            Don't tell the government this, because you are obviously a terrorist.
      • A terrorist who builds really small bombs, right?
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Dunbal (464142)
          A terrorist who builds really small bombs, right?

                Small enough to fit in a... I know - a WATCH! Soon airlines will ban all timepieces on flights. Remember, it's not the size that counts.
      • by istartedi (132515)

        Haha! that's so ridiculous. If I'm a terrorist I wouldn't spend years learning how to build fine mechanical time pieces. I'd... well... nevermind what I'd do. However, given our current climate of color-coded civil rights violations, it wouldn't surprise me if this hobby put me on the... wait for it... watch list. Oh.... groan. Sorry, but I tried really hard to avoid watch puns in my parent post.

  • Check out this blog [blogspot.com] for some of the weird and wonderful watches out there. Some of them costing 200K or more. (yes, two hundred thousand) One of my favourites is the TAG Heuer V4, but I doubt I would be able to afford it.
    Sigh.
    A similar thing might well happen to analogue electronic engineers I suspect, with everything going digital these days. Why have a filter circuit composed of discrete components when you can program a DSP to do the same thing?
    Or maybe not.
  • Balderdash (Score:2, Insightful)

    by John Hasler (414242)
    > Thirty to 40 years ago, there was a watchmaker at every jewelry store.

    This is utter nonsense. Jewelry stores had watch repairmen, most capable of no more than cleaning, adjusting, and replacing movements.
  • You really want to make time with this [willowtip.com]?
  • Thirty to 40 years ago, there was a watchmaker at every jewelry store. That's not the case today.

    Maybe this [virginia.edu] will help explain why.

  • by Gorimek (61128) on Friday December 22, 2006 @11:23PM (#17345612) Homepage
    What you wear says a lot about who you are.

    And wearing a Rolex is the only thing I can think of that trumps driving a Jaguar for saying "I'm very rich and very stupid".
  • Earlier this year I bought an analog wristwatch from an old coot who claimed to be "the last certified watchmaker left in New York City". I bought one from him, though I could tell from my NTP-sync'ed mobile phone that his own watch was 2 minutes slow.

    I was in a room with a Master of the Way of the Dodo.
    • by b0s0z0ku (752509)
      I bought one from him, though I could tell from my NTP-sync'ed mobile phone that his own watch was 2 minutes slow.

      He'll have the last laugh when your mobile phone battery dies when you're hiking in B.F.E. BTW - does anyone make a wristwatch that syncs to a time source (cell net or whatever)?

      -b.

      • by Doc Ruby (173196)
        Who cares what time it is, except "twilight", when hiking in BFE (whatever that is)?

        The watch I bought from him runs on batteries too. But when it stops, I suppose it will be right twice a day. Except at night in the BFE, when I won't be able to read it.
  • by dino213b (949816)
    At least clock making in the U.S. history..

    Around 1700, it was very rare for a person to own a clock or a watch - something on the order of 1 in 35 prominent white males owned one. By 1800, most cities in New England had clock makers. These clock makers could produce only around a dozen clocks per year and they never did so preemptively. They would wait for an order to be placed and then take their sweet time to produce a clock. There was an old saying about the craft.. "No two clocks tell the same time," i
  • I bought one of those 2GB video watches [thinkgeek.com]. They are a bit bulky, but quite cool/nerdworthy if you don't mind recharging the battery after about 8 hours of it just boringly displaying the time.

    On it I have my limited MP3 collection and the Black Knight scene from the Holy Grail.

    You wouldn't believe how many chicks find this sexy!
  • It's an uncommon profession, absolutely, but my cousin is a blacksmith on a thoroughbred farm and he makes a pretty good living making horseshoes and whatever other odds and ends are required for keeping racehorses going. And, of course, there's all those folks who run the Renaissance Fair circuit who make swords and armor.
  • I believe most Swiss watches except for the, say Patek Phillipe-level that go from tens to hundreds of thousand dollars are actually factory-made. Still nice timepieces, but not really handmade. Possibly assembled by hand, at least in part... Not an expert, but that's what I've read anyway.
  • by Rix (54095)
    You mean those things we replaced with cell phones?
  • by WarwickRyan (780794) on Saturday December 23, 2006 @07:02AM (#17347356)
    He's dyslexic, so found schooling especially hard. However, he's excellent with mechanical things, so studied to be a horologist.

    There is such a demand for horologists at the moment it's crazy. Not just for watches, mind, but also for mechanical clocks.

    Too many kids are soft courses at uni (art/media etc etc) that we're being left with a dearth of people who have useful skills..
  • Back to the topic? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by fullback (968784) on Saturday December 23, 2006 @11:15AM (#17348044)
    I was faced last week with the choice of either having my Rolex repaired, or throwing something with a replacement cost of $8,000 in the trash. Since owning one is considered to be a sign of stupidity to this crowd, I chose the stupid path - I ran for Congress. No, I decided to have it repaired.

    Once upon a time, in a land far, far away (Japan), I decided to check the Rolex website for information. It turns out that Rolex is light years ahead of most global companies. They are already embracing a new paradigm: Web 4.0.

    Web 4.0 you say? Yes, indeed.

    Web 4.0 is retro. The master site for Rolex has no email addresses. None. No email for the headquarters or any office in all their offices flung far throughout the world. No email for you today. It's pure genius. It took me back to my work-a-day world of the 1980s. We used to have businesses back then that managed to survive (and even thrive) without "IT guys." We used to talk on the phone, send letters, send telex or even use those new fancy FAX machines. We could just give the new guy a desk, a phone and some pens.

    Think about it for a minute. Which is more frustrating: not being able to fire off an email, or not getting a reply to your email? Or, heaven forbid, a nonsense non-answer or automated "empathy mail like, "We are sincerely interested in your customer service experience and are commited to providing you blah blah blah blah..."

    Nip that customer frustration in the bud instead of prolonging the agony of no, or nonsense answers, since you're only going to tell the customer to get lost anyway. The first thing it does for a comapny is eliminate the angst of having to read customer complaints. Who needs that first thing in the morning? It weeds all but the most determined whiners and complainers.

    It also eliminates all the IT guys running around without ties having meetings in strange "geekspeak" going frantic about needing the latest version of ComExpRo 9000 version 23.01 beta ($24,000 license fee) and a new Sparkmaster Database Servoserver ($72,000) with 128 Megagoobers of chrome plated exhausts. Or something like that.

    No internet. No email. No spam. No security problems. No spyware. No upgrades. No Vista!

    And no maps to the office in Tokyo on the web site. If you can afford a Rolex, you shouldn't be sending emails or need maps anyway. Get your secretary to call and get directions. Bingo. If you don't have a secretary, get a casio. No, you should have enough smarts to figure out how to call and get directions.

    Off I went to the Tokyo office. It just so happens that I was there about 8 years ago, so I vaguely remembered where it was. It was just a short walk from Tokyo station. Since I'm a guy (internal flawless GPS system installed), I asked my girlfriend to "confirm" my GPS at the station with a random person.

    "Oh, the Rolex building? Sure, it's blah, blah, blah..."

    It turns out that everyone in Tokyo has been to the Rolex service center since everyone bought several back during the bubble and they all need servicing eventually. I found it easily. I walked directly to the counter after being offered a friendly smile by one of the many friendly-looking counter ladies, only to be handed a plastic tag with a number. I turned around to see about a dozen Rolexers lounging around in leather chairs waiting for their number to be called. All reading Rolex catalogs and Rolex magazines (some were even post Y2K - Rolex had no Y2K problem...). They check your watch as you wait, then present you with an estimate to repair it.

    When my number was called, I presented my cold, dead watch to the woman. She was holding it when she asked my if it had stopped. I said something to the effect, "Yes... see?"

    She then asked me when it stopped.

    Now, this is Japan and all interactions between strangers/customers/gods is formal and exceedingly polite. I formally and politely smiled as I pointed to the watch face and read off the time and date. Grin. Wink.

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