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Person repairing a watch in Thailand

A watchmaker is an artisan who makes and repairs watches. Since virtually all watches are now factory made, most modern watchmakers just repair watches. However, originally they were master craftsmen who built watches, including all their parts, by hand. Since modern watchmakers are required to repair older watches for which replacement parts may not be available, they must have some fabrication ability. A skilled watchmaker can typically manufacture replacements for many of the parts found in a watch.

A watchmaker, as the name implies, works primarily on watches, not clocks, the latter is called a clockmaker. Some watchmakers work on clocks, but the skills and tools needed to work on a watch are not always applicable when working on a clock.

A watchmaker working on a Railroad watch

Historically, in England, watchmakers would have to undergo a seven-year apprenticeship and then join a guild, such as the Worshipful Company of Clockmakers in London, before selling their first watch. In modern times watchmakers undergo training courses such as the ones offered by the BHI, or one of the many school around the world following the WOSTEP style curriculum. Some USA watchmaking schools of horology will teach not only the wostep style including the ETA range of movements but also focuses on the older watches that a modern watchmaker will encounter on a daily basis. In Denmark the apprenticeship last 4 years, with 6 terms at the Danish School of Watchmaking in Ringsted. The education covers both clocks and watches, as a watchmaker in Denmark also is a clockmaker.

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Watchmaker as metaphor

William Paley and others used the watchmaker in his famous analogy to infer the existence of God (the teleological argument) .

Richard Dawkins later applied this analogy in his book The Blind Watchmaker, arguing that evolution is blind in that it cannot look forward. Evolution, says Dawkins, is not directed by god(s). Instead, all intricate improvements in nature's mechanisms stem from survival pressures.

Alan Moore in his seminal graphic novel Watchmen, uses the metaphor of the watchmaker as a central part of the backstory of his heroic character Dr. Manhattan.

In the NBC television series Heroes, the villain Sylar is a watchmaker by trade. His ability to know how watches work corresponds to his ability to gain new superpowers by examining the brains of people he has murdered.

In the scifi novel The Mote in God's Eye by Larry Niven, the Watchmakers are a small technologically intelligent sub-species of the Moties that will repair/improve things you leave out for them (accompanied by food as payment).

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