people ask how charges are figured for restorations of timepieces.
My approach is very simple, economics.
This work requires skill, judgment, historical
knowledge and integrity. Not only that, but to do the highest
class work requires a major investment in equipment and tools.
Finally, there is a major investment in time in learning and perfecting
As an illustration, the cost of materials that goes
into a $250 clock restoration typically amounts to less than $5 worth of
brass. However, it takes skill to turn that brass into the needed
bushings. The remaining $245 of charges is ALL labor.
On a "standard" clock, this $245 accounts
for about 5 hours of work. Given that it costs $40 an hour to have
an untrained high school student swap out parts on my $1200 garden
tractor, which has no historical value; $50 an hour seems reasonable.
My pricing is based on a "value added"
approach. This means, I have done enough of the various styles of
clocks to KNOW what I will need to do on an "unabused"
timepiece. The work and parts covered by the "basic"
charge is explained in the sections describing the various restoration
charges. These charges will be the final charges in 90%
of the cases. They are based on labor and parts required to be
certain the timepiece will not "come back".
If a timepiece needs work beyond the "basic"
overhaul, the additional charges will be included in the repair
estimate; and based upon the rates quoted on the Custom
My rates are adjusted so that I can devote my entire
attention to that timepiece while I am working on it. I am not
thinking about the next job, or taking short cuts. For example,
EVERY pivot is burnished on the Jacot tool. Every
"botched" screw is refinished. This kind of work is as
much psychological as it is physical. In my opinion, it is
impossible to do good work "on the cheap"
For this reason, I have no such thing as a "trade
discount" for labor. Unlike parts and material, once labor is
expended, that time is gone forever. It is a non-renewable
commodity. So, unless the workman is willing to discount his
standards as well as his labor rates, I fail to see how
"trade discounts" work in the restoration field.