Archive for July, 2017

Industry News, August 2017

Monday, July 31st, 2017

Cousins UK Material House Makes Progress in Swiss Court

A Swiss court in Berne has ruled that a Negative Declaratory Action (NDA) suit filed against Cousins Material House Ltd by the Swatch Group is inadmissible under Swiss Law and the case has been dismissed. The suit was brought against Cousins UK after the parts supplier had sent a legally required “Letter Before Action” to the Swatch Group warning them of a pending anti-competition lawsuit in the English High Court, unless they restored supply of spare parts within three weeks to independent distributors. The legal grounds for the lawsuit against the Swatch Group were stated as a “breach of a range of laws and trade agreements.” The NDA was an attempt by the Swatch Group to receive an early ruling from a Swiss court that their parts restrictions were not violating any British or European laws, ideally keeping the issue out of the English courts.

The conflict originated back in 2015 when the Swatch Group announced that it would cease the supply of spare parts for all subsidiary brands to independent distributors on January 1, 2016. The impact this would have on the independent repair trade prompted Cousins UK to work with the British Watch and Clock Makers Guild to set up an Industry Action Fund to help pay the legal fees of court proceedings against the Swatch Group.

This ruling does not mean that the Swatch Group must reopen the supply of spare parts to independent distributors, only that Cousins has the legal right to file their lawsuit against the Swatch Group in the High Court. The Swatch Group has until the end of August to decide whether they will file an appeal of the court’s decision. If an appeal is not filed or it is denied, Cousins will inevitably file the originally intended lawsuit. Managing Director Anthony Cousins has assured through public statements that they are “staying in this fight until it is won.”



Aaron Recksiek is an independent watchmaker in Salt Lake City, Utah. He is a graduate of the 2008 WOSTEP class at the Lititz Watch Technicum.

A Message from Our AWCI President – Fred T. White, CMW21, August 2017

Monday, July 31st, 2017

“It is not how many facts you know;
what’s most important is how you put them together.”

Fred T. White, CMW21, AWCI President

That big, silver bird set down in Austin, Texas, at 4:05 p.m. on June 28, and Shirley and I were met by Dennis Warner. After an hour’s drive, we were at his home, where his wife, Ruth, had dinner waiting. After dinner, Dennis and I set off on a three-hour drive to Arlington, Texas, for the NAWCC Convention. The next morning, we registered and got our AWCI display set up. Dennis brought a TV from home, and Jordan had provided us with a thumb drive with the many things that have gone on in our organization. I brought my computer with a large screen and played an endless loop of a watch that I had repaired. We had a good spread of HTs and other literature promoting AWCI. We talked with many people who were interested in what we, as an organization, are doing. Some people were members of both AWCI and NAWCC, and some were just NAWCC members.

Within the craft competition, some beautiful timepieces were on display, along with some novelty items using watch and clock parts. Pat Holloway exhibited some very interesting Christmas ornaments made with watch cases and watch parts. There were clocks and watches produced by some of the finest horologists; their skills are impeccable. Some very beautiful work was on display. One clock that caught my attention was made by John Thomsen. It was patterned after a tower clock, but stood only about five feet tall. It is the only clock I have ever seen with universal joints. The main drive for the hands came off at an angle from the dial, so the use of universals was necessary to drive the hands. The craft and design made this an absolutely gorgeous piece. Oh, by the way, it kept time to within approximately three minutes a month, which, to me, is pretty doggone good.

One of the most enjoyable parts of being there was the opportunity to visit with people who share my interest in repairing timepieces. One of many we met was a retired doctor, Leonard Steiner, who told us a story about a friend from medical school who had a photographic memory; he could remember everything in the books but was not a good doctor. Dr. Steiner made a statement that really rang true for me. “It is not how many facts you know; what’s most important is how you put them together.” If that is true in the medical profession, it certainly is true in our profession. You can read the books and study how a watch or clock works, but until you take a job in your hands and get the feel of it, you will never become a craftsperson. It is like riding a bicycle for the first time—it probably didn’t go so well. As time goes by, though, you master it, and so it is with what we do. I will never forget how intimidating it was to work on my first chronograph. Keep trying—one day you will master it.

Industry News, July 2017

Sunday, July 2nd, 2017

The first week of June in Las Vegas has increasingly become a focal point for professionals working in the jewelry industry. The JCK Show is the annual flagship event for Jewelers Circular Keystone, a news outlet and industry trends tracker that dubs itself the “Industry Authority.” The show’s success in drawing over 30,000 industry professionals to Las Vegas has enticed other industry-related shows to run concurrently with the JCK show. Couture, Jewelers International Showcase (JIS), and the Las Vegas Antique Jewelry & Watch Show all happen at the same time or within days of each other. However, the shows differ in who is exhibiting and who is attending.

JCK is open to all with careers in the jewelry industry—exhibitors and show attendees alike. It is designed to foster networking and business transactions between professionals, businesses, and retailers. Couture is open only to representatives of high-end jewelry retailers and the press. Exhibitors must be suppliers of finished goods only. Direct delivery of purchases is against show rules at the JCK and Couture shows. Las Vegas Antique Jewelry & Watch Show is open to anybody interested in purchasing secondhand jewelry and watches, and many of the exhibitors were representatives from prominent jewelry stores around the country as well as brokers and wholesalers. “Cash and carry” transactions are prominent. JIS is designed to deliver finished new goods directly to retailers with immediate delivery at the show.

Over the past several years, most higher-end watch brands have exited the JCK show system and found their way over to Couture. The atmosphere is more exclusive and many brands require appointments to even view their new products. Jordan Ficklin and I spent time approaching brands to familiarize them with what AWCI has to offer, encourage convention attendance, promote IAB membership, and get their ideas on the needs of the watchmaking industry. Couture didn’t do a very good job in informing attendees which brands were available, and many exhibitors were upset that traffic on the show floor was underwhelming. However, traffic at the JCK show seemed down as well, which may indicate a down year for the jewelry industry overall. Official attendance numbers for the shows are not yet available.

At JCK, Tom Schomaker was available to help fulfill the educational mission of AWCI by offering mini-seminars at the Bergeon Switzerland booth in the Essentials (tools) section of the show. AWCI would like to thank Gérard Meulensteen from Bergeon for the opportunity to be a part of their booth. Due to Bergeon’s generosity, AWCI could help spread the word of continuing education, membership in our organization, subscribing to the magazine, and directing retailers to our “Find A Professional” service. AWCI representation included Executive Director Jordan Ficklin, Instructor Tom Schomaker, Melissa Schomaker, and Board Member Aaron Recksiek. Bergeon was represented by Gérard Meulensteen and Guillaume Böttger, who will take over the North American market from Mr. Meulensteen next year. Witschi was invited to exhibit alongside Bergeon with CEO Daniel Schmitt and CSO Martin Schürch to represent their brand. Also present in the booth were representatives from Jules Borel & Co., Cas-Ker, and Otto Frei to assist in fulfilling orders for Bergeon and Witschi products.


Aaron Recksiek is an independent watchmaker in Salt Lake City, Utah. He is a graduate of the 2008 WOSTEP class at the Lititz Watch Technicum.