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Guidance for Microbrands and Watch Builders

Caring for Your Neck While Working on Watches



Working on watches requires precision and attention to detail, often involving hours of focused work. Amidst the intricate tasks, it’s easy to overlook the strain that can accumulate in your neck.  Unless, of course, you find yourself in need of a heating pad or popping ibuprofen far more than you should be. 

So yes, proper care and simple practices can make a significant difference in preventing neck pain and discomfort. In this article, we’ll explore how to protect, stretch, and care for your neck while working on watches. 

And yes, I’m a victim to my own circumstances. I have built watches for years standing, which puts immense pressure on your neck because you’re looking down for hours on end.  I then got smart and raised the bench, which helped. A little. 

The following suggestions will hopefully give you some clarity on how you can keep your own neck in better shape than I did mine.  As with anything health related, I’m not a doctor nor is this to be construed as medical advice.  I’m just trying to help my fellow watch builders take care of themselves.

Protecting Your Neck: Ergonomics First

  • Workspace Setup: Ensure your workspace is designed ergonomically. Your chair and workbench height should be adjusted so that your neck remains in a neutral position while you work.  I’ve even found that at times it’s good to arch my torso forward (as though you’re bending over and looking straight), so that your neck is arched up, as if laying on a bed on your stomach looking at your phone.  I even follow a chiropractor that says he does this from time to time, i.e., he lays on his stomach and looks at his phone instead of bending over like while sitting.
  • Proper Lighting: Illuminate your workspace adequately to avoid straining your neck while squinting or bending forward to see the intricate details.  I personally use an overhead fluorescent light, as well as a magnifying desk light.  
  • Tool Organization: Keep your tools organized and within easy reach. Frequent stretching to retrieve tools can strain your neck over time.  And, although this isn’t a huge deal, it’s good to keep things within reach regardless.  Plus, you have the benefit of not losing your mind trying to find stuff.  There’s been times I’ve spent more time putting tools back than doing the actual build.  Trust me, it helps!

Stretching for Neck Relief: Simple Exercises

  • Neck Tilt Stretch: Gently tilt your head to the left, trying to touch your left ear to your shoulder. Hold for 15-20 seconds, then repeat on the right side.
  • Neck Rotation: Slowly turn your head to the left, aiming to align your chin with your shoulder. Hold for 15-20 seconds, then switch to the right side.
  • Chin to Chest Stretch: Slowly lower your chin towards your chest, feeling a stretch in the back of your neck. Hold for 15-20 seconds.  You can also place one hand on your chin, and the other on the back of your neck and press forward as if trying to drive your chin into your throat.  There’s plenty of youtube videos on this as well if you’d like a visual.
  • Neck Extension Stretch: Gently tilt your head backward, looking towards the ceiling. Hold for 15-20 seconds while feeling the stretch along the front of your neck.  Again, this is just like laying on your stomach and looking forward.

Quick Points to Save Your Neck

  • Take Regular Breaks: Schedule short breaks every 30 minutes to stretch your neck and change your posture.
  • Maintain Posture: Keep your neck aligned with your spine, avoiding prolonged forward bending or slouching.
  • Hydration: Stay hydrated to keep your muscles supple and prevent stiffness.
  • Relaxation Techniques: Practice deep breathing and relaxation exercises to reduce muscle tension.

Avoiding Neck Strain: Additional Tips

  • Avoid Neck Cradling: While focusing on intricate watch components, avoid cradling the phone between your shoulder and neck during calls.
  • Stay Active: Engage in regular physical activity to strengthen your neck muscles and improve overall posture.
  • Supportive Pillow: Use a supportive pillow that keeps your neck aligned while sleeping.