Dedication to the Craft: Making a WatchMay 11, 2017
Dedication to the Craft: Making a Watch For more than 100 years, Ben Bridge Jeweler has been acclaimed for our attention to what matters most to our respected clientele: flawless customer care. So when it comes to watches, only the best watchmakers in the field will fit the bill, ensuring timely and professional service for […]
Dedication to the Craft: Making a Watch
For more than 100 years, Ben Bridge Jeweler has been acclaimed for our attention to what matters most to our respected clientele: flawless customer care. So when it comes to watches, only the best watchmakers in the field will fit the bill, ensuring timely and professional service for those cherished timepieces in need of a tuneup or repair.
“Our business is built on long-term relationships. We aspire to be our customers’ personal jeweler,” says Marc Bridge, Vice President of Marketing. “That means our commitment is to more than just selling a watch and forgetting about it. Watches can be lifetime investments, and we want to ensure those investments provide lasting satisfaction.”
With stores across the west — 22 of which include resident watchmakers — as well as a thoroughly skilled watchmaking department in our corporate office, our commitment to timepieces is fervent and long-standing.
“Watches are deeply embedded in our DNA and have been since our founding in 1912,” Bridge further explains. “Sam Silverman, our founder, was a watchmaker who opened a small store selling and repairing pocket watches in Seattle after following the railroad west in the early years of the 20th century.”
The 38 watchmakers on staff range in age from their early 20s to early 70s, all highly trained in their craft. Most are alumni of North Seattle College’s Watch Technology Institute, which offers the rigorous two-year Swiss American Watchmaking Alliance program. Additional education ensues right here in our office, with associates availing themselves of in-store training and instruction directly from the watch manufacturers.
Each year, we service several thousand watches, from battery changes in quartz timepieces to complete overhauls of rare and vintage mechanical watches requiring movements to be completely disassembled. Turnaround time is often as short as two weeks, depending upon the service being performed, and all major repairs are warranted for two years.
“We can only provide this level of service because we have the best-trained, most knowledgeable and highly passionate associates selling and caring for our timepieces,” shares Bridge.
After an initial on-site triage by a lead watchmaker, technicians are engaged for “short jobs” like the aforementioned battery replacements, while watchmakers take on the more complex chronograph repairs, full-service overhauls and more. “If you’re not trained to work on it, you don’t work on it,” says Watch Repair Manager Jeff Grieff. Grieff is responsible for hiring our network of watch repair persons. “I want people to work with their strengths.”
Those strengths are progressively and rewardingly challenged as watchmaking – and consequently watch repair – becomes more complex.
“Within the past 10 to 12 years, training and certifications of watchmakers have raised the quality and professionalism of the craft,” says long-tenured Ben Bridge watchmaker Tim Louis, who attributes this to the increase in sales of mechanical and complicated timepieces. “Equipment has also greatly improved. We now use the same equipment and tools as the manufacturer,” he explains, thus making the case that highly qualified watchmakers at the store level are a win-win for both craftsman and customer.
Grieff concurs. “Since we are a large company carrying so many brands, we generally have few problems with access to the parts we need for repairs. Having a good, long-standing relationship with many of the watch manufacturers is increasingly important,” he adds.
“We listen to our customers about issues they are having with their watches,” Louis continues. “Having the sales associate, watchmaker, and customer involved as much as possible to get the most information about the life of the watch is crucial.” He cites details such as how often the watch is worn, and in what activity and environment, as being important to a successful outcome. “We problem-solve the issues of operation and function of the timepiece whenever possible before the customer leaves the store.”
Watch repair virtuosity aside, in the end it is client satisfaction and confidence that are the true tests of a company’s success. Our philosophy of building relationships as we build our business is part of a continuum of attentive service that spans more than a century.
“When you are investing in a fine timepiece, you want to know that someone will stand behind your watch and take care of it when you need help,” Bridge concludes. It is one of the many ways we are unique in the watch business.”
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