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Watchmaker or Tinkerer?

by Jordan Ficklin

When you are a watchmaker everyone thinks you are a tinkerer. Inevitably I get asked if I repair clocks, or music boxes, or automata, or any sundry of other odds and ends. In fact I’m a good repairman when it comes to most things because I can figure out how things work and that is the key to good diagnostics.

I don’t repair clocks. Why? It requires a completely different set of tools than the ones I use in watchmaking. A small music box or an automaton, sure why not. As long as its parts are on the scale of a watch.

Today I was asked to repair a compass. I mean why not, they are both handheld and round. First they took it to a jewelry shop across the street and they told him (with confidence) I could fix it. So, what was wrong with the compass? you ask. The North end of the needle was pointing South. A quick view of the following video on youtube and I fixed the compass. The customer thought I was a genius and I learned something new. I can now repair compasses.

The fact is this problem was very easy to solve.

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  1. david
    Posted September 13, 2012 at 12:50 am | Permalink

    can’t view on my mobile, what was the fault?

  2. J.Peter
    Posted September 13, 2012 at 7:33 am | Permalink

    All I had to do was run a strong magnet across the needle from the back of the compass and the atoms aligned themselves appropriately for the end of the needle marked north (the south end) to point north.

  3. Posted September 13, 2012 at 3:01 pm | Permalink

    It’s true. People ask me on a regular basis if I can repair clocks. I’ve also been asked about music boxes, locks, adding machines, telephones, radios, printing presses, Victrolas, aircraft instruments (other than clocks), and, yes, compasses.

  4. DTW
    Posted September 14, 2012 at 6:15 am | Permalink

    “”I can figure out how things work and that is the key to good diagnostics.””
    So true

  5. Phillip
    Posted September 17, 2012 at 9:01 am | Permalink

    I’m definitely in the tinkerer camp when it comes to watches, being a computer programmer by day, but I find the same is true in my industry. There’s an old joke that if you’re having copier/printer/fax problems, ask the programmer, “Because hey, this machine has a computer inside it, right?” They, of course, require a different skill set, but I usually find myself agreeing to work on odd machines because “I can figure out how things work” as well. It’s amazing how often the solution is equally as simple as your compass repair.

    I think that’s one of the abilities that sets a person apart from his peers. Being able to do the job you were hired to do is good, but having the knowledge/ability/willingness to use what you know to solve semi-related problems makes you invaluable.

    But from now on, I’ll definitely send all of my compass repairs your way. ­čśë

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