A watchmaker is an artisan who makes and repairs watches. Since a majority of watches are now factory made, most modern watchmakers only repair watches. However, originally they were master craftsmen who built watches, including all their parts, by hand. Modern watchmakers, when required to repair older watches, for which replacement parts may not be available, must have fabrication skills, and can typically manufacture replacements for many of the parts found in a watch. The term clockmaker refers to an equivalent occupation specializing in clocks.
Most practising professional watchmakers service current or recent production watches. They seldom fabricate replacement parts. Instead they obtain and fit factory spare parts applicable to the watch brand being serviced. The majority of modern watchmakers, particularly in Switzerland and Europe, work directly for the Watchmaking Industry, and may have completed a formal watchmaking degree at a technical school. They also receive in-house 'brand' training at the factory or service center where they are employed. However, some factory service centers have an approach that allows them to use 'non-watchmakers' (called "opérateurs") who perform only one aspect of the repair process. These highly skilled workers do not have a watchmaking degree or certificate, but are specifically trained 'in-house' as technicians to service a small number of components of the watch in a true 'assembly-line' fashion, (e.g., one type of worker will dismantle the watch movement from the case, another will polish the case and bracelet, another will install the dial and hands, etc.). If genuine watchmakers are employed in such environments, they are usually employed to service the watch movement.