Read these comments below on another forum that I found - as a newby, very interesting.
With no disrespected intended, I would compare a watch repair hobbyist to a car mechanic hobbyist. If one wants to tinker around a car engine, why not. But when it comes to working on an engine timing or other aspects that are more involved, like any other profession, going to specialized school of the trade is paramount.
Since a watch is a small object, one tends to translate at start “small-size” with “simplicity”. I think the following in a great read and will personally push me in near future to go toward the traditional learning route of watchmaking, even if I do not see It at this point as a profession - but who know what the future will bring.
This also relates to my wanting to start with “good” tools, in order to experience and appreciate more the watchmaking trade from the start. Upgrading several times usually becomes more expensive anyway and I rather take the time to acquire the proper tools. It is a hobby for me after all as it stands and as much as I look forward to getting my “hands dirty” I already have a profession and other problem solving hobbies that I can wrap my mind around... One of them being being golf
Just have a technical problem solving mind, I look forward to see if my hands can follow
If you are just looking to have fun, then do as woodwkr2 suggests, and get some books, watch some videos, etc. and have at it.
I would however suggest though that you go in with realistic goals. I personally don't have any problems with hobbyists (some professional watchmakers do), and if you have followed any of my posts here I try to help where I can for those here who dabble in repairs. Some help is posted, and a lot is not since it's done via PM or email. I only say this because I don't want you or anyone to think I'm trying to discourage you, or be negative...
The problem with people wanting to get into watch repairs, and eventually "service my own watches" as I see as the often stated goal, is that really you have no idea what is involved to do the job properly. Most people simply don't know how much they don't know about this subject. It's not anyone's fault, it's just how it is.
One thing that's hard to get across is that even on a very simple watch, they require quite advanced (for a hobbyist) work on them. It doesn't have to be a co-axial, chronograph, or anything else complicated to easily be way over the head of a hobbyist. A simple manual winding movement can require a lot done to it - things I do often, if not every single day on every single watch. On the most basic level, it's rare that I am not adjusting end shakes, manipulating the balance spring, or dynamic poising some watch during my day.
For example I'm working on a Speedmaster today along with others, and when all the chronographparts are stripped off, it's a very simple manual winding base movement. What I did to it today has nothing to do with it being a chronograph. I had to adjust the barrel arbor end shake (it was huge), adjust the end shake of the escape wheel (alsohuge), adjust the balance spring for flatness, concentricity, and centering between the regulating pins. Routine stuff for me to get the watch running properly, but the balance spring work in particular is something most hobbyists are not going to tackle. Even proper oiling of the pivots, and epilame treatment and oiling the escapement are going to be a major challenge for most hobbyists.
One problem is that even after a watch is serviced,many hobbyists will be happy if it runs and keeps decent time, but this doesn't mean it's been serviced properly. Getting a watch ticking is not doing a proper service as it would be done by aprofessional (at least a decent one). So even just disassembling, cleaning, properly oiling, and adjusting a watch to a high standard will be beyondmany, and we haven't started talking about repairs yet. Even if you start with a watch running well, there is a good chance you may break something during the service. If it's something cheap then you can just a get a new part, but if it's something more expensive (or even worse rare) then you may be in trouble quickly. Something as routine as replacing a balance staff would be pretty advanced work for most hobbyists, and it requires a fair bit of equipment to do...lathe, staking set, roller remover, balance spring levers, truing calipers, poising tool...
As I said, not trying to discourage you or anyone (the more you learn the more you will appreciate what professional watchmakers do) but just encourage you to be realistic. Most watch schools are 2 years in duration, and then the education really starts when you get hired and start servicing watches day in and day out...
Anyway, good luck and if you have questions, ask.
Balance spring work is best learned with someone there to guide you. The gold standard is having an instructor there who is experienced and can show you. Someone for whom "good enough" is not "good enough." Someone who will push you, and push you, and push you to get it perfect....over and over and over again. Very few people can do this on their own the way it's learned in a watchmaking school.
Reading in a book about how to place a bend to have a specific result is quite different than actually doing it. Almost more import than that is actually knowing what result you really need to have on a spring, so what bend do I need to make to fix a specific problem. In other words, the basic rules for making a bend are simple, but knowing what bend you need isn't always simple or apparent.
Also, part of this is training your eyes. Your eyes (and what's behind them) are valuable tools in watch repair. If you can't see the problem, you don't know it's there, so you can't fix it. For example what the average hobbyist sees as a balance spring that is perfectly concentric, will probably look out to me. It's just accumulated experience and being able to see very fine detail. For whatever reason, when you start out at this (we all start from the same place - no one is born with these skills), your eyes just can't see small imperfections. Only through doing this thousands and thousands of times do you get to know almost without looking hard that something is out.
Concentricity, in particular on a flat balance spring, is the easy part. On an overcoil balance spring it can present different problems though, and a different approach to correcting errors is needed. Now correcting errors in concentricity, without creating errors in the flat, is something you need to be able to do. But even if you don't create errors in the flat, they still show up, and need to be corrected. This tends to be the more difficult thing to correct for most people. But if you know what to look for, I can often look at a spring that is dished, make one bend, and it's perfectly flat.
And you need to be able to do this across a wide variety of sizes, strengths, and types of balance springs.
As has been pointed out., do you really "want" to learn this? This part of watchmaking is not fun, really. It's necessary, but certainly not fun, in particular when you get a really messed up spring in a watch...
Just something to consider.