I am Colin Andrews, a watchmaker with a keen interest in encouraging people within the industry and helping to promote Britain’s pivotal role in watchmaking history; and hopefully being part of its revival.

At the moment I am busy working on creating a series of watches for sale, including “The Few”; a watch handmade from a WW2 Spitfire.

Previously I spent 7 years hand-making my own watch as well as training 5 of my own apprentices to become watchmakers.

In recognition of my efforts I was made a Fellow of the British Horological Institute in 2019. I have studied both the WOSTEP and BHI qualifications, and have attained 1st place worldwide in my exams in subjects including Technical Drawing, Practical Making of Components as well as earning the 1st place results for both the Diploma in Clock and Watch Servicing and the Diploma in the Servicing and Repair of Watches.

I was a relatively late starter into the industry, having previously spent 8 years in China, mostly running my own fine art business and having learned fluent Mandarin Chinese. I returned to Britain at the end of 2010 and I decided to embark a new specialised career path. After some thinking I chose Watchmaking.

Watchmaking seemed like a romantic choice of career. It was a real skill, and felt like a proper job. It also seemed that the British watchmaking industry was suffering, and this appealed to me as it was something that I could get my teeth into.

The experience so far has inspired me to continue on my personal journey within watchmaking, as my career is flourishing and I am able to use my position both at work and on-line to help inspire some of tomorrow’s watchmakers to follow along the same path.

If you’re interested in linking up, you can connect on Linked In. Here’s the link

Receiving watchmaker award
Receiving my award from the British Watch and Clock Makers Guild


  1. Pierre

    Nice to meet you Colin 🙂 I will link up with you on LinkedIn.

    1. Colin

      Nice to meet you too Pierre!

  2. Matt Webb

    Hi Colin,

    Really enjoying reading through your site. I think I have the same ambitions as yourself back in 2010 and it looks like the path you chose has really worked well for you. I’ll also connect on LinkedIn.

    Just out of interest, which company do you work for? I live in Salford and wasn’t aware of any companies around the Manchester area. Then again I’m very new to this.



    1. Colin

      Hey Matt, thanks for your message.

      Around Manchester there are two major official service centres. In the area of Salford there is LVMH in Walkden, which work with Tag Heuer, Dior and Zenith. Then in Oldham is part of the Swatch Group that deal with specific brands such as Tissot and Longines amongst others.

      Did you actually start on the watchmaking path, or did the whole idea stall? The nice thing about watchmaking is that it is never too late.



  3. Adrian Harahap

    Hello sir,

    I found your website and interesting topic here : http://great-british-watch.co.uk/how-to-make-a-windingstem/

    I got a pocket watch that i plan to convert to make it a watch, in this process i will need a new stem since the original stem only half threading. The movement is Hamilton 4992B.

    Do you think you able to provide service in making this winding stem sir?



    1. Colin

      Hi Adrian,

      Thanks for your message.

      The Hamilton 4992B movement does have a very short thread on it. If you are finding that it is too short, then you can just use a stem extension. This is basically a device that screws onto the end of the existing thread, and allows you to make the threaded part longer, or use a different tap size than original.

      If the stem is broken, then it is possible to make another to fit, but that generally isn’t a commercially viable option. Most of the time if you need a new stem then you can canibalise it from an old spares/repairs movement that is otherwise broken.

      I haven’t made a stem in a while, and so I’d probably need a day of practice, and then another day to manufacture it; which is the reason why it wouldn’t be commerically viable.

      A quick search on ebay shows that there is a stem for the movement available for $35.

      So I would suggest either use a stem extension, or give ebay a try.

      I hope that helps


  4. Klaus Beagleman

    Hi Colin,

    What do you use to remove material from the balance wheel when poising after re staffing?

    Thank, Klaus.

    1. Colin

      Hi Klaus, I’ve written an article on static poising a balance wheel here: http://great-british-watch.co.uk/how-to-poise-a-balance-wheel/

  5. Klaus Beagleman

    Nice article ta!

  6. George Clarkson

    Hi Colin I found your realy interesting website looking for information on how to become a watchmaker. I would love to professionally work on vintage watches, but am afraid my age (I am 43) wil be a problem… Your thoughts?

    1. Colin

      Hi George,

      Age isn’t an issue with regard to coming into watchmaking. Generally being older is an advantage as some important traits such as self-discipline and patience develop with age.

      I was 32 when I changed careers, and was considered young. 43 isn’t an issue, as you have at least 20 years of work ahead of you, and within this industry the actual retirement age goes on until your health falters.

      It’s a great career choice, and if you’re passionate and inclined towards it – incredibly rewarding. If you specialise in vintage watches you will never be short of work as each year there are fewer parts available and fewer people available with the knowledge to repair them.


      1. George Clarkson

        Hi Colin and thanks for your kind reply. I will be following your guide to become a watchmaker avidly, as I do with any other bit of information I find on the Internet regarding the subject. Problem is, I live in Germany, and there are very little ways (or few places if you will) to become a professional watchmaker, many if not most of it involve relocating and paying a small fortune in school fees, a second rent (I have family and kids whom I cannot force to move right now) and all the rest, not earning money in the process. I have looked into online courses, but apart from the most known ones that are affordable and being online won’t force me to move out from my family, are not professionally recognized: I would only earn a certificate stating that I attended the course as a “hobby”. It still would be useful to grasp the basics of watchmaking, but it is no proper school. So I am stuck basically.

        It is a hard choice, full of unanswered questions and that a person my age just cannot make lightheartedly.

        I do have the possibility to become a “dealer” in vintage watches, buying and selling, and this is what I am actually looking into, since it is the nearest thing to watchmaking I can professionally do, and that could allow me to suport my family while at it. I started an onlineshop and am slowly populating it with watches that I find and repare myself. I guess I am not allowed to post the link here so I won’t.

        Only issue, is getting to be “seen” on the Internet, and even if I have experience (I own a webdesign company that does also SEO) it will take some time before I see the fruits of my efforts.

        In the end, I will continue to follow your blog, as I do with many others, and try and learn as much as possible. Sorry for the long reply.


        1. Steven

          If I was you I would do the BHI distance learning course and find a local watchmaker that would allow you to work with him in your spare time and treat it very much as a hobby.

          By the time you got skilled enough to charge a professional fee and had enough customers to make a living from you would be well into your 50s and I’m talking if you went at it full time from now.

          I did the BHI in Birmingham University, have 8 years in the trade and I’m starting a business now and I really think I have the bare minimum experience necessary to go it alone. And even now there is not much money to be made for the learning and work you have to put in and the equipment you have to buy.

          1. George Clarkson

            Yeah, we are pretty much on the same page on this…. I wiill just continue it as a hobby, and eventually seek to become a good dealer of vintage watches and accessories. Thanks for taking your time in replying to me, I appreciate it.


        2. Colin

          Hi George,

          I’d tend to be a lot more optimistic than Steven. You’re not going to get rich from fixing watches, but you can be comfortable and have a stable income.

          The key is to value your time and skill correctly and thereby charge the right sort of hourly rate, which should be between £20-50 depending on your experience, plus the cost of any materials. Too many watchmakers are too quick to do favours for friends/family, or do a partial repair of a watch free-of-charge because it wasn’t a noted fault when the work was first estimated.

          Learn to say no to jobs that look like they’re going to be a can of worms, learn to re-estimate work as required, and learn to value your time and skill.

          The most profitable part of watchmaking is often quick and easy jobs such as changing batteries or fitting a new bezel or bracelet.

          For repairs you probably only need to advertise a little on-line, most people don’t like sending their watches off in the post and would rather hand it to someone directly. So local advertising will work best for you. Use on-line message boards, which are free and help you build up a reputation.

          Watches are generally very tactile things, and so particularly if you’re going to look to sell unusual or vintage watches, people will want to see what it is they are going to buy and see it working. Ebay generally is a tough business place. Again a decent forum, where you can build your own reputation in a closed environment, could work out best for you if you want to stick to on-line.

          Do the BHI’s distance learning course. I did it 1 year full-time and 3 years part-time and got it all finished. I worked in the industry after 2 years studying, so before I’d finished and become “qualified”; there are so few people who’re actually professionally trained in the industry that even partially skilled makes you in great demand.

          I would say that you’d need at least 3 years of bench experience before you can go alone; which is real-world practice at finding faults, making repairs, buying parts, dealing with customers, finding pit-falls, and knowing what to charge – and of course learning to work to a speed and accuracy that you can be commercially viable and not have all your work returned back.

          Like everything, it all depends on how much effort you put in. There’s a huge shortage of skilled watchmakers, particularly vintage watchmakers, and so if you want to make a decent go of it then the only obstacle is you.


          1. George Clarkson

            Hi Colin and thanks for your reply. I will take note of your advice and act accordingly. Thanks again 😉

  7. Matt

    Hi Colin,

    I just stumbled on your site and I’m loving it, lots of useful info. I am very much interested in training as a watchmaker, I have always loved small objects. There is one issue in my mind though, I am left handed. Do you think this would be an issue training and subsequently in my career? I wish you godspeed in your efforts to revive British watchmaking.

    Best regards

    1. Colin

      Hi Matt,

      Thanks for your message, I’m glad you found the information useful.

      Being left handed doesn’t really make any difference, as the primary tools; tweezers and screwdrivers, are ambidextrous. Just make sure that if you ever buy a lathe, that you get one where the attachments can be fitted on both sides – that way you can simply turn the lathe around to be able to use it with your left hand. Best of luck in your training!


      1. Matt

        Hi Colin,

        Thank you for your reply, it has allayed some of my concerns about being a leftie.

        Best regards

  8. Julia

    Hi I would like to subscribe to your newsletter please.

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