A watchmaker is an artisan who makes and repairs watches. A modern watchmaker is more likely to repair a wristwatch or a pocketwatch than to actually create a watch from scratch. A skilled watchmaker can typically manufacture many of the parts found in a watch. A person who primarily repairs watches, especially if he is not qualified to make all components of a watch, should properly be called a watch repairer rather than a watchmaker.

A watchmaker, as the name implies, works primarily on watches, not clocks. 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.

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 word following the WOSTEP curriculum.

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 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).

Albert Einstein, in discussing the advances of the nuclear era, noted that, "[t]he release of atom power has changed everything except our way of thinking... the solution to this problem lies in the heart of mankind. If only I had known, I should have become a watchmaker."

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