The new exam expanded the areas of testing from four to ten in order to include all the various clock types that typically find their way into clock shops nationwide.
As of 2011 I am one of only six active certified clockmakers in the entire state of Ohio and I am one of only two in Ohio to hold the new Certified Clockmaker of the Twenty First Century certificate. I was awarded this designation after my work on the committee that wrote the test. As of 2010 there were only 137 active Certified Clockmakers nationwide!
You might ask yourself at this point why there are not more certified people? Some clockmakers do not want to take the test because it costs money to do so and it can a difficult and time consuming test. Most feel no need to prove their skill to anyone; customers or peers. Although few would admit it, I am sure there are some who are concerned they might not pass. They also say that their customers have no idea that a certification even exists so why would they need it. They feel that if people are continuing to bring clocks to them for repair and they leave the shop working they must be doing alright. These people will never know how their skill level stacks up against others in their trade and neither will the general public.
Let me give you an idea of how very serious this problem is. After the new watch certification test was developed the luxury watch company Rolex decided that this test was so good at determining the skill level of watchmakers that they decided to require it as a means to opening the door to acquiring a parts account. Everyone that currently had a parts account would now have to take the test in order to keep it. This sent a flood of watchmakers to AWCI to take the test. The skills required to pass were clearly explained in the Watchmakers Standards and Practices document available to all watchmakers. Since the test was developed (as of 2012) approximately 438 people have taken the exam and only about 57% of them are passing! This means that 43% of the people repairing Rolex watches, or indeed most types or brands of watches, were unable to do so according to acceptable standards. They only need score a 75% or better to pass! The people who have failed the test obviously would not have gone to the trouble of taking the test if they thought they would fail since the test costs almost $2000 and takes four days to take not to mention the travel, lost work time and hotel bills. Here is my point; these people all had a higher opinion of their repair skills than was justified. It was not until they were tested did they realize their areas of weakness.
I believe the same is true for most clockmakers. Unfortunately, at this time, we have not had many people take the new test so I cannot provide you with any specific numbers. No clock manufacturer requires any kind of testing so there is less impetus to drive clockmakers to take it.
If this is true, why did I take it? I took the test for many reasons, personal satisfaction being one of them. Most importantly, I wanted to be sure that I was truly qualified to perform the work that I was charging my customers for. I had been repairing full time for fifteen years at the point of taking the examination but I had to know that I could pass the test. Does being certified mean I am a better clockmaker than those who are not? Not necessarily, but it does mean that I care enough about my craft and have enough confidence in my ability to subject myself to being judged by my peers. It is also objective proof of my abilities. Anyone can boast of their skill but very few can prove it until after you have paid them!