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A watchmaker typically works to make and repair watches and similar types of timepieces. Though clocks were often built and repaired by professional clockmakers in the past, with changes in modern construction and technology for timepieces, watchmakers will often repair and build clocks as well. In the past, watchmakers would often construct watches by manufacturing the individual pieces of the watch and properly fitting them all together to make the final product. A watchmaker today, however, typically works more on repairing watches than making new ones. Some watchmakers still continue to build watches as either a personal hobby or for sale to a niche market of watch enthusiasts.
As the name may initially suggest, one of the principal duties of a watchmaker has traditionally been the actual design and construction of watches. This involved not only assembling watches, which is a craft in itself, but also properly designing and fabricating the internal mechanisms and housing of the watches. Making a watch is a precise and delicate operation, especially analog watches that function through tiny mechanisms that must properly fit into each other and work together to move the hands of the watch at perfect intervals. Watchmakers will often undergo years of training at a school that focuses on horological studies to learn how to design, construct, and repair watches.
A watchmaker will also typically repair watches that have been damaged or have stopped working. This has increasingly become the primary duty for most watchmakers, since watches are typically manufactured through machine construction and are often digital rather than analog. Repairing watches can be as simple as replacing a battery or involve more complex work such as changing hands or other internal parts, and can potentially involve fabricating new parts to use to repair the watch. A watchmaker may still fabricate and construct pieces of watches, especially if he or she has undergone extensive training to become a watchmaker.
Due to advances in technology, a modern watchmaker could also work with computer components to create digital watches with mechanisms as intricate as watches of the past. These types of watches typically work using microcomputers and digital displays, rather than small, interconnecting gears and hands that move in precise rotations. A watchmaker who makes digital watches would likely have training in computers and electronics, rather than horology and the practical mechanisms of watch design. Some watchmakers can continue to work with analog technology, however, to create watches for those who want a more classical design.